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Nintendo Doing Major Recall; Xbox 360 Gaining In Japan

Nintendo announced over the weekend it was recalling all the straps for its Wii controller. The strap, which keeps the controller from flying out of players’ hands, was proven faulty after it broke a few televisions and injured a person or two, creating a lot of internet panic. The new strap is almost twice as thick, is already shipping with new consoles, and 3.2 million of the new ones will be sent out.

While the strap probably doesn’t cost a lot to make, the modest cost, plus the shipping, plus the slightly bad publicity, all of it is going to cost Nintendo some significant coin. I won’t even consider buying a Wii for at least a few more months, not until we can see for certain that the “flying Wii-mote” problems have been resolved. My TV is way too valuable to me for that. The Wii is selling incredibly well, a real breakout success compared to either Microsoft or Sony’s console, so they don’t want to suffer any setbacks.

Here’s the latest sales figures, counted near-daily from Nexgenwars:


These numbers aren’t completely accurate, but they’re compiled from all available industry resources. Click to view it full-size.

Meanwhile, the Xbox 360 actually had a decent (although not winning) week in Japan, thanks to the release of RPG Blue Dragon. The 360 moved 35,343 units in Japan from December 4-10, up 772% (or 31,290 units) from the week before. The 360 jumped into fourth place, beating the PlayStation 2 for the first time in that country. Also, Blue Dragon sold 80,348 copies, presumably one copy to every single 360 owner in the country.

Microsoft sold well under 2 million original Xbox consoles in Japan, and it is important that the 360 do somewhat better. At this point, everyone needs to play this generation under the assumption that Sony is going to lose, which means Microsoft needs to take advantage and press hard in Japan. If the 360 is not viable in Japan, Sony could save itself by being the only place for Japanese gamers to turn for adult gaming. Also, if Sony tanks completely, Microsoft needs to sell enough to not let Nintendo take the entire Japan market.

December 19th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | 7 comments
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  1. What I don’t get with this Wii strap hysteria is: Why don’t people just hold the d*mn controller? Then it won’t fly. Are people really that dumb … ? Why would you open your hand and let the thing fly?

    Comment by Markus | 12/19/2006

  2. It’s not a recall, Nathan, it’s a replacement program. The media has been reporting this wrong. See:

    (also linked as an update to the original Joystiq post Friday)

    If you check the official Nintendo press area (see recent Hmm post for details) there’s no mention of this.

    Comment by TDavid | 12/19/2006

  3. I have a Wii with the original straps and I have to tell you… I really don’t see how these straps are breaking under any normal force. All I can think of is that people must be really pushing it, i.e. throwing or letting go of the remotes at a really high speed, a speed probably not actually required for the games.

    That said, though, I have my replacements ordered and on the way. But, my little bro is playing Zelda as I type this.

    Comment by Patrick | 12/19/2006

  4. C’mon, T, that’s just semantics! A faulty product is offered to be replaced for free due to causing propert damage and minor injuries, that is a recall. I agree that this is more overblown than it should be, and kudos for Nintendo for admitting that there is a problem and fixing it, but it would be foolish to ignore that there was a very real problem.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | 12/20/2006

  5. Just semantics…I know your not trying to be misleading but after your article about the register I thought you more than anyone would be more careful with this sort of thing.

    Comment by Aaron | 12/20/2006

  6. “but it would be foolish to ignore that there was a very real problem.”

    Then call me a fool.

    Nathan - do you have a Wii? Have you played with the Wiimote yourself? Our whole family has been since launch day, have the thinner strap, and I wrote about the experience here:

    I’m strongly suspicious that the people breaking their TV sets are doing this on purpose — or playing with such incredible force that they will break the heavier straps too. There is something to personal responsibility and using a product as it was intended.

    And what is the deal with the class action lawsuit? Come on, is right.

    Comment by TDavid | 12/20/2006

  7. I have been reading up on recalls, and as far as I can determine, there isn’t even a semantic difference between a “product recall” and a “replacement program”. They’re the same thing! When a company offers to replace all of a product due to defect or safety issues, that is effectively a recall, even if the company does not call it as such. Thus, even though Nintendo may not want to declare it a recall, since recall is practically a dirty word, it still is a recall in the usual sense of the word.

    T: I would assume that nearly every case of a person claiming injury or property damage due to the Wii is a fake. I do not own a Wii, but I have used one on three seperate occasions, and I agree that for the most part it is difficult to drop the Wii, and even harder to break the strap. You would have to be swinging it FAR more than necessary to break the damn thing, but it is still possible.

    That said, I would still worry about breaking my TV. I’m a naturally forgettable guy, sometimes just plain clumsy, and if anyone would let it slip from his hand, having not fastened the strap (or tightened it), it’s me. I don’t like the idea of swinging that thing around, and I hope someone offers some sort of self-tightening strap, to make up for my mistakes. For now, I’ve got my Xbox 360, so I’m willing to wait a few months to let everything play out.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | 12/20/2006

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