The Wii U has never had it easy. What started out as an intriguing concept quickly became the butt of an industry-wide joke: the Wii U has struggled with third-party support, technical limitations and overall terrible sales since day one. Then, last year, Nintendo announced the 'NX' as the Wii U's successor — and it was starting to seem that even the console's creator had given up on it.
Somehow, things are only getting worse for the Wii U: according to reports from Nikkei (translated by @serkantoto on Twitter), Nintendo has plans to end Wii U console manufacturing later this year. Not only that, but some of the console's accessories have already ceased production — and Nintendo is currently hoping to deplete the rest of its entire inventory by the end of 2016.
If these reports are true, it looks like Nintendo is gearing up to fully support the NX whenever it's ready to launch — and, while that's good news for Nintendo's next console, it's basically the final nail in the coffin for the Wii U.
To clarify, the report isn't claiming that the NX is coming out this year. Nintendo's next console is expected to make its debut at this year's E3 convention in June, but there's still no word on when gamers will be able to actually get their hands on it — or if it'll even launch in 2016 at all.
On top of that, just because Nintendo is ending production on the Wii U doesn't mean the console will suddenly be impossible to find. Nintendo is likely sitting on warehouses full of unsold Wii U hardware — if anything, the company could end up discounting the Wii U to help get rid of its leftover stock.
However, if the reports are indeed accurate, this essentially marks the end of the Wii U's short life cycle. The console has been a massive disappointment for Nintendo, and cancelling hardware production is probably the company's way of trying to cut its losses as early as possible. Nintendo may continue to support the Wii U in smaller ways, such as software and firmware updates ... but even so, it looks like the company is done trying to support a dead console.
As with all rumors and reports, until Nintendo makes an official statement, nothing about the Wii U or its production cycle has been confirmed ... but it's starting to look like Nintendo is ready to put one of its bigger failures in recent memory behind it.
Expect to hear more of Nintendo's plans for the future at E3 2016 this June.