The Wii U is having a bad day. First, Ubisoft announced that it is delaying Rayman Legends and releasing it on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as well. Then Activision chief executive officer Bobby Kotick said he is disappointed in the new Nintendo console’s performance. Not angry … just disappointed.
In a conference call to investors to report the company’s annual earnings, Activision’s top executive said that the slow adoption of the Wii U would pose a challenge for its Skylanders gaming franchise.
Skylanders is Activision’s action-game series aimed at children that combines physical toys with a virtual in-game world.
During a question-and-answer session with investors, Kotick elaborated about Nintendo’s newest home console.
“We were somewhat disappointed with the launch of the Wii U,” he said. “It’s a challenging environment. One of the things we’re worried about is what the install base will be for 6 to 12 year olds.”
Combined, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 — both at the end of their console life cycle — sold over 100 million units. The Wii U is only just getting started and is still under 10 millions units sold. The same thing will happen to the next Sony and Microsoft systems, and Activision is aware of the difficult transition.
“It’s something we’re concerned about,” said Kotick.
But Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg is confident that Skylanders will push through the slim early months of the shift to new hardware.
“The [properties] that do the best on new consoles are the ones that finish out the best [on the last systems],” said Hirshberg.
Since its 2011 debut, the Skylanders franchise generated more than $1 billion in revenue and sold over 100 million toys. Activision is planning to release the third game in the series this year, Skylanders Swap Force.
And what about new competition from Disney Infinity, which combines the toy-based gaming model of Skylanders with the brand power of The Walt Disney Company?
“We take every competitor seriously, but Skylanders is a proven force,” said Hirshberg. “If the response we’re seeing from toy fairs is anything to go by, we expect to increase our presence at retail [this year].”