We compare the Wii U's opening months to the 3DS, Wii, GameCube, Nintendo 64, and DS.
The latest financial report from Nintendo regarding the Wii U isn't too uplifting. From the system's launch in late November 2012 to the end of September 2013, the Wii U moved 3.91 million consoles. In the past six months, only 460,000 consoles have sold. Even the Wii sold more over the past six months.
Things are so dire that Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said that the upcoming holiday season is hugely important in deciding the Wii U's future. Depending on the outcome, the company's direction might change.
So how does the Wii U's poor showing compare to other Nintendo systems to date? The obvious comparison is with the 3DS, which was widely derided for flopping after its early 2011 launch. Well, from the early 2011 debut to the end of the year (a span of about nine months instead of the Wii U's 10 months on the market), the 3DS sold 15 million units, more than triple the Wii U's sales to date. In the Wii U's defense, the 3DS endured a full holiday season, but even still, the disparity is massive.
However, comparisons with the Wii are much clearer since both systems launched in late November. The Wii sold 1.3 million units from its November 2006 launch to the end of September 2007. Over the same period that the Wii U sold 460,00 units, the Wii sold 7.3 million, and it had supply constraints to boot.
But the Wii was a success, so of course the Wii U, which is very clearly not one, looks poor stacked up against it. The last Nintendo system before the Wii U to disappoint was the GameCube. In the same period of November to September, the GameCube sold 6.68 million units, about 2.5 million more than the Wii U. Furthermore, the GameCube sold 2.8 million units during that same dark period that the Wii U sold 460,000.
It's a little harder to uncover Nintendo 64 sales from the first year. However, during the fiscal year 1998 (April 1, 1997 to March 31, 1998), which occupies roughly the same window in the life of the N64 as the one the Wii U is going through where Nintendo hopes to sell 9 million Wii Us. In that time, the Nintendo 64 cracked 9 million units, 9.42 to be exact. If the N64 did it in 1998, I guess it is possible for the Wii U to sell 9 million in a year. Although, I'll bet good money that the N64 sold more than 500,000 from April 1997 to September 1997.
And in case you were curious, the DS sold close to 9 million in its first nine months, and then proceeded to sell far more than 10 million a year from 2005 to 2011. As we all know the DS printed money, and has outsold the Wii U in territories outside North America and Japan over the past six months.