Activision 'somewhat disappointed' with Wii U launch

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick says his company has witnessed "slower-than-expected adoption" of Nintendo's new game console.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Nintendo investors aren't the only ones bummed by Wii U's uptake.

Speaking yesterday during an earnings call with investors, Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick said he was "somewhat disappointed with the launch of the Wii U." That dagger came just minutes after Kotick acknowledged that his company faced "challenges from slower-than-expected adoption of the Wii U."

It's no secret that the Wii U has faced some trouble since its release in November. Last month, Nintendo released its earnings for the nine-month period that ended December 31 and revealed that the company mustered only 3 million unit sales of its new console. Nintendo didn't directly discuss Wii U demand, but the company did say that its upcoming release of classic games for the console should "help Nintendo gain momentum for the Wii U."

In a discussion with reporters in Tokyo after his company's earnings were released, Nintendo chief Satoru Iwata said he feels a "deep sense of responsibility for not being able to produce results for our year-end business."

Although Wii sales during the same point in its lifecycle were just at 3.2 million units, they would have been much higher if not for Nintendo's inability to meet its massive demand. For years after the Wii's launch, the device was hard to find on store shelves. By contrast, the Wii U is readily available.

In the U.S., especially, Nintendo is facing some trouble. Research firm NPD Group announced last month that during December, Microsoft sold nearly 1 million more Xbox 360s than Nintendo sold of its Wii U.

Still, Nintendo is by no means ready to wave the white flag. Famed game developer Shigeru Miyamoto told reporters last month that Wii U demand will rise once people get their hands on it and "see it is fun."

Activision, like other game publishers, is negatively affected by slower-than-expected hardware sales. The larger the number of hardware users, the greater the likelihood of game makers selling their products.

That said, Activision Blizzard has little to worry about. The company yesterday announced revenue (PDF) of $1.8 billion during the fourth quarter, up from $1.4 billion during the same period in 2011. Activision Blizzard generated a $354 million profit, up from the $99 million in net income it posted in the year-ago quarter.

Updated at 8:25 a.m. PT to add "million" to net income for 2011.