OSAKA -- Nintendo will end production of the Wii U video game console as early as this year in light of sluggish sales, shifting its focus to a new product.
The Wii U console, which debuted in 2012, had sold only 12.6 million units by the end of last year. In comparison, sales of its predecessor, the Wii, topped 100 million units.
A lack of games that go with the Wii U is largely to blame. The Wii U comes with a liquid crystal display on the controller enabling players to use two displays including the television screen. But this unique equipment configuration makes for more complicated software development, so many game developers refrained from creating titles for the Wii U.
In the meantime, major game developers have released big titles for Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation 4, allowing that console to maintain brisk sales.
Some components of the Wii U have already been discontinued, a parts supplier says. And parts inventory will run out as soon as this year. Even while ending production of the Wii U, Nintendo will continue developing games for it.
When game console makers release a new product, they often continue production of the predecessor model for a while. This will not be the case with Nintendo, which is slated to announce the NX console as early as this year. Details of the NX have yet to be disclosed.
The Kyoto-based company likely took into consideration the likelihood of Wii U sales slowing even more when the NX debuts.
Nintendo's portable game console, the 3DS, has fared well, but its unit sales for the year ending March 31 are seen shrinking 24% to 6.6 million. Weighed down by a stronger yen, Nintendo's group sales are seen declining, with net profit poised to plunge nearly 60% to 17 billion yen ($151 million).
Amid such headwinds, Nintendo will cut inventory risk by ending Wii U production early and focusing resources on the NX.
Since the 1983 introduction of the Family Computer system, which has sold about 62 million units worldwide, Nintendo has released new video game consoles every several years. Wii U's sales have been weaker than any of the predecessors.