Wow, THIS is IRONIC.
Back in late '06 or early '07 a poster named John Lucas predicted Wii would sell 20m in 2007 and win the generation - easily. At that time everyone on this site thought he was A) crazy, B) a joke or C) the ultimate deluted Nintendo fan. I and one other member were the only people who agreed and I explained in detail why. But people then couldn't see past their own little world of core gaming. The idea of soccer moms and elderly folks buying a Wii was beyond their imagination. I got it. I predicted Wii would succeed when vertually no one else did.
Now today, I am the lone voice saying Man-Bear-Pig is RIGHT.
Anyone who's seen my posts knows I've been calling the WiiU the anti-thesis of the Wii. What Wii did right the WiiU is doing WRONG.
Nintendo understood that dual analog controller was what was keeping the general public from games. So they removed that limitation with the Wiimote. Now they have put it back in the gamepad. WTF?? Worse they added a touch screen. You might think that's a good idea, it's casual friendly, but it's a terrible idea because to a casual non-gamer, it now looks like a tablet controller. Tablets are cool! Except it's not a tablet. There's no apps. No free games. It's single touch. It can't go anywhere (outside the house). Can't do anything except play games and watch tv. So in comparison to a true tablet device the WiiU looks like a bad value. It's a value equation Nintendo can't win so they should never have put themselves into that equation. They should have made a better Wii.
Casuals love their Apples and Android devices and instead of offering an completely difference experience to pull them away from those devices, WiiU offers a comparible one. MISTAKE. Apple will kick their ass without lifting a finger to do so. Worse, multiple Android devices will be on the market this year with (removable) game controls which will compete directly with WiiU for that audience. They will have infinitely MORE games (not better...), FREE games, and be cheaper and do a whole lot more than play games. At it's current rate of power increase, ipads will be MORE powerful than WiiU in a year or two. WiiU looks like a poor value in comparison to the casual observer.
But... you say... WiiU will appeal to core. F--- that. Not going to happen. Japan maybe thanks to Dragon Quest X & Monster Hunter but home consoles are not big in Japan. Portables are. In western markets core will stick to their current gen systems - which plays all the same core games - HELLO! (Yeah, yeah, Bayonetta 2 - big whoop)
Besides, Gamecube had lots of core titles. Even had RE exclusive for a while. Had all the big Nintendo titles. 20m. It didn't work then, it won't work now either. The gamepad adds TOO LITTLE to draw anyone away from their current system/friends list.
Will it get ports when PS4/720 come out? People here think so, I'm not so sure. We have no idea what those systems will be capable of. Graphically, it may not look much different, but processing difference will be IMMENSE. Think Dead Rising: Chop 'til you Drop all over again. WiiU's ports will be vastly inferior. That's obvious.
So WiiU has little appeal to core. Little appeal to casual. That leaves Nintendo fans. They number around 10m-20m tops. Look at any core Nintendo title without casual appeal - 3D Mario, Zelda, Smash Bros, Metroid, Star Fox, F-Zero, Pikmin, Kirby (and most of those have some limited casual appeal) - none exceed 11m for a single game in sales - ever.
For casuals Wii is a distant memory. Apple is the story today (and even it is starting to get stale). WiiU won't change that. Having 'Wii' in the name won't help sales, much if any as Wii is yesterdays news. WiiU should have come out in 2010. It would have been huge then. It's 2012, almost 2013. WiiU is too little, too late in a market that's forever shifted by the Apple effect. It's a compromise system, some Frankenstein cross of Wii, Apple and 360, no one asked for and few will see value in.
IF, and that's still a big IF, MS can pull off what the rumours claim, they WILL capture the casual audience. Because they will offer that Apple/Android/WiiU/PS4 can't. A wholy new experience that everyone will want to experience for themselves. Nintendo had the market for a while but they lost it, unable to keep producing truly fresh experiences. I am highly skeptical MS will do as well as Nintendo did at appleasing the casual market, but the potential is there. Regardless of tech, 720 will be priced affordably - day one - with their 2-3 year contract plans. People are used to 3 year monthly contracts. They'll accept it here. MS will also keep their core base, and if Sony releases another stupidly expensive system while 720 is at $99 (with 3 year contract) MS will steal a lot of Sony's too (again).
I won't call WiiU a flop. But it doesn't have the imaginative fire Wii did (or 720 might). It will be much more like the Gamecube than the Wii but will benefit from an expanded market and residual afterglow of Wii. In that respect to say it will double Gamecube's numbers, means it will at least in part attact beyond the Nintendo core and little kids but that's still 40m. I expect less 'core' gamers to own it than Wii. Mainly because until 2010 Wii offered experiences PS360 could not so it made sense to own both a Wii and a HD system. That's simply not the case here. There's not even a convincing argument to buy a WiiU when you have a current gen system now.
I've no idea what Sony is doing. I wonder if Sony does. If they follow the same path as PSP, PS3, PSVita they will get the same results. Another last place finish. So let's hope they smarten up.
I'd say 40m is a fair estimate of WiiU lifetime sales. I also predict it will have a shorter lifespan (little over 4 years) but launching Wii3 two years after PS4 will allow Nintendo to (potentially) put out the last great home console we're ever likely to see and once again, come out king.