The Wii U era is set to come to an end relatively soon, according to statements coming from Nintendo’s Japanese headquarters and American subsidiary.
Official word of the coming end of the Wii U first came from Nintendo’s own Japanese website (Google Translate), which says that both the base system and a Splatoon bundle will see “production coming to an end soon (in Japan).”
“As recently posted by Nintendo on the Wii U website in Japan, Wii U production will end in the near future for the Japanese domestic market,” Nintendo of America told Ars Technica. “We have nothing to announce in terms of exact timing.”
And what of the system’s fate outside of the company’s Japanese home? “We can confirm that as of today, all Wii U hardware that will be made available in the North American market for this fiscal year has already been shipped to our retail partners,” Nintendo of America said. “We encourage anyone who wants Wii U to communicate with their preferred retail outlet to monitor availability.”
Nintendo’s fiscal year ends in March, which means Nintendo of America has said it won’t be sending out more Wii U hardware to retailers for the next five months. The retail channel usually only maintains console hardware stock that it plans to sell in the next month or two, according to industry analysts, so this strongly suggests Nintendo of America is not planning to produce any additional Wii U systems in this time frame either.
It’s technically possible North American production could start up again in the next fiscal year, we suppose. Still, combined with Nintendo of Japan’s statement and the March launch of the Nintendo Switch, that seems exceedingly unlikely.
The update on the Wii U’s fate comes just a week after Eurogamer reported that “multiple sources” were saying the Wii U would shut down production in short order. Nintendo pushed back against that report at the time, telling a Japanese newspaper that “even though the Nintendo Switch is slated to go on sale, [Wii U] production is scheduled to continue.” That statement seems hard to square with the latest word from Nintendo, though.
Even with the planned March launch of the Nintendo Switch, a better-selling Wii U might have continued to be a market force for years. The much older Xbox 360 was produced until this April, for instance, and production on the ancient PlayStation 2 continued all the way into early 2013 (PlayStation 3 production continues to this day).
As we’ve reported before, any discontinuation of the Wii U this year would make it Nintendo’s shortest-lived home console by a good margin. Nintendo fans can take solace, though, that the Wii U’s lifespan outlasted the Sega’s Dreamcast production run, which lasted less than two years. And unlike Sega, Nintendo will be following up its biggest home hardware failure with a new console.