The console – which features a tablet-style controller with its own screen – will start selling in the UK on 30 November for £300 in time for the crucial festive shopping season.
A successful launch is pivotal for the Japanese company after it posted its first financial loss in 30 years in April. For entertainment retailers, the launch is a chance to revive flagging interest in a market that has struggled for sales due to the rise of casual gaming on smartphones and on social networks.
Game, which came of adminitration in April, is preparing a major marketing campaign to target both gamers and more casual players in a bid to drive pre-order purchases. The retailer will launch above-the-line adverts in the run-up to the console’s launch alongside a raft of promotions on its Facebook and Twitter profiles.
Meanwhile, HMV is preparing a major in-store marketing campaign that will run over the next three months as the company looks to the console to boost its Christmas sales.
A spokesman for HMV says: “We’re excited about the release of the Wii U as there hasn’t been a major console launch for a while, and you need that to stimulate the games market every now and then. The timing is pretty spot on as it should help to create a lot of impetus as we head into the final few weeks of Christmas.”
Elsewhere, Sainsbury’s is preparing in-store activity that will launch over the next month once the company launches its pre-ordering service for the console. The company, which says gaming is a key part of its entertainment offering, sees the console as a key format in its proposition for years to come.
With new consoles from both Microsoft and Sony expected in 2013, sales of the Nintendo Wii U will offer some indication as to whether more next-generation hardware can boost interest in the video games market. UK video game retailers suffered their worst week in history during August after software sales dipped to just 394,688m (£8,4m) items, according to UKIE/GfK Chart-Track data.
The general decline in the sector has led to Nintendo ramping up a broader entertainment strategy around its new console. The console will allow users to make personal TV and video programming lists as well record shows through services such as Netflix and Amazon.
A spokesman for Nintendo declined to offer any information on its own marketing plans for the console.
Samuel Gee, technology analyst at Mintel, says the the outlook for gaming sector over the next five to ten years is extremely positive despite the lack of new hardware since the Nintendo Wii launched and the recession.
He adds: “The wide demographic range of videogame players brought into the fold by the Nintendo Wii means the upcoming opportunities for publishers are both plentiful and profitable.”
Sony is to launch a sleeker and slimmer version of its Playstation 3 model from next Friday (27 September) as it looks to stimulate demand. The new model will look to go head-to-head with the Wii U this Christmas as a cheaper alternative.