For the first new game console in six years, the weekend’s U.S. launch of the Nintendo Wii U turned out to be solid if not spectacular. A new PlayStation 4 from Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) and a new Xbox 720 from Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) are due in time for the 2013 holiday season, so Nintendo has this holiday season all to itself.
The Wii U is reportedly sold out, but one report noted that early buys of the $300 basic console were immediately listing the new controller on eBay for up to $500.
There have also been complaints that the multi-player software does not come installed on the device and requires a download that uses up most of the storage space on the 8-Gbyte version of the console. Buyers who get bored by the whole process — which can take up to two hours — and either unplug or restart the device risk find that the console no longer works. Ouch.
The online user hub, called Miiverse, couldn’t handle the user demand and suffered a temporary outage under the crush. The company did acknowledge that problem.
One might reasonably argue that Nintendo should have waited until it had all the bugs sorted out before launching the new device, but some analysts believe consumers will be forgiving, provided the problems are solved quickly. That one-year head start on Sony and Microsoft can evaporate in a very short time.