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Monday, November 26, 2012

Nintendo\'s Wii U Starts Strong

In its first week on the market, Nintendo's new videogame console, the Wii U, sold about as well in the United States as the original Wii did at the same point in its life, according to Nintendo.

In an interview, Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, estimated that the company sold more than 400,000 Wii U's here from the product's introduction on Nov. 18 and last Saturday. Mr. Fils-Aime said that figure was based on sales data Nintendo collected electronically from retailers. He said total American sales for the product were likely higher.

A more complete sales figure for Wii U will come soon when NPD, a research firm that estimates retail sales, releases data for the product's first week on the market, Mr. Fils-Aime said. He said 475,000 of the original Wiis were sold during the product's first week on the market in 2006, citing NPD data.

The results are a good sign for the company's latest product. The Wii was an enormous hit that outsold competing systems from Microsoft and Sony, but its sales have faded in recent years, putting pressure on the Wii U to help lead a turnaround at Nintendo.

“We are essentially sold out at retail,” Mr. Fils-Aime said. “As soon as we replenish product to retailers, it sells out immediately.”

It's important to keep in mind that supplies of new game consoles are often very limited when they first go on sale, as manufacturers ramp up production. Nintendo has a very dedicated audience that craves almost anything new the company has to offer, not unlike Apple's fans. The real test of the Wii U's durability will come when the product is in better supply and more casual gamers, who don't dream about Mario and Zelda in their sleep, can more easily buy it.

Mr. Fils-Aime said another of Nintendo's more recent products, the handheld Nintendo 3DS, was also selling well, racking up sales of 6.4 million units in the United States during its first 21 months on the ma rket. He said Nintendo had sold one million more Nintendo 3DSes than it did an older handheld, the Nintendo DS, during the comparable time period.