Nintendo will reportedly be ceasing production of the Wii U by the end of 2016, according to Nikkei.
The news was translated via multiple tweets from Dr. Serkan Tota, a Tokyo-based industry consultant. He writes that Wii U production will be coming to a close this year, and that the NX will finally be unveiled.
Assuming these reports are accurate, Nintendo appears to be taking a large step toward a 2016 launch for the NX. This would be a break from tradition for the platform holder - both the Wii and Wii U were unveiled more than a year ahead of their eventual launches - but time is of the essence for Nintendo. Nintendo recently revised their projected sales of the 3DS from 7.6 million units to 6.6 million, and the Wii U has been mostly stagnant. Now would seem to be the time for Nintendo to make their move.
If Nintendo opts to hold the NX until next year, then they will most likely make one final push with Zelda for the Wii U and 2016 before halting production and prepping for a 2017 NX launch. The new Zelda, as it happens, is the key to Nintendo's plans. There has been persistent speculation that Zelda will either be pushed to the NX or receive a split release like Twilight Princess. If it is indeed shifted to the NX as a launch game, then a 2016 release for the platform seems likely.
For now, we still know comparatively little about either the new Zelda or the NX. Back in October, the Wall Street Journal reported that NX development kits have gone out to developers, and that it will feature "powerful chips." Speculation has centered around it being a hybrid handheld machine and console.
As for the Wii U, it's certainly had its bright moments, but its overall been a disappointment for Nintendo. Though it has passed 12 million units sold, it hasn't come close to matching even the GameCube, which managed to sell 21 million units over its lifetime. The Gamepad, neat as it is, has proven to be an albatross for the console, pushing up its price beyond the budget level needed to compete with more powerful consoles. Third-party support has also been weak, forcing Nintendo to rely heavily on its own library.
Still, the Wii U has blossomed into a worthwhile system over the past few years, and the prospect of it going out with a whimper is a little sad. At the end of the day, though, we're ready for the NX.
We've reached out to Nintendo for comment on this story. We'll let you know if they send a response.
Update: Nintendo Corporation Ltd. has responded to this rumor by clarifying that Nikkei's report does not represent an official announcement and that Wii U production will continue for at least the next two fiscal quarters of 2016.
This doesn't mean Nikkei's claim was wrong; Nintendo's assurances only vouch through the end of September. Conspicuously, the official statement doesn't address the original report's statement that Wii U production will cease by the end of the year. Nintendo clearly doesn't want people viewing Wii U as a terminal product, but at the same time has left itself room to close down manufacturing toward the end of the year without technically lying. Take that as you will.
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