3DSWiiDSGCWiiU

How Do Wii U's Sales Compare to Nintendo's Past Consoles?

by Neal Ronaghan - October 30, 2013, 2:54 pm PDT
Total comments: 21

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.

Images

Talkback

EnnerOctober 30, 2013

It bleeds money :(

KITT 10KOctober 30, 2013

This saddens and worries me a bit.

the asylumOctober 31, 2013

I hope the Wii U fails and fails miserably. Then at around 2018 or so we can expect a console that will actually be competitive with the rest of the industry, and be loaded with REAL games, and not be relegated to Shovelware Dumping Bin for the third gen in a row.

pyrokamileonOctober 31, 2013

if Wii U moved 3.91 million in ten months and 3DS sold 1.5 in 9 months.. then how does that prove that 3DS more than tripled what Wii U did?

AVOctober 31, 2013

2018? If things don't pick up I would think Nintendo will have a new system shown and released by end of 2015 .

Maybe I'm morbid but I want too see virtual boy vs wii u sales, it can't be that bad ....right

Decimal point in the wrong spot! It was 15 million! My bad.

Luigi DudeOctober 31, 2013

Quote from: Mr.

Maybe I'm morbid but I want too see virtual boy vs wii u sales, it can't be that bad ....right

The Wii U surpassed the Virtual Boy's lifetime total in its first month alone, so no, it's no where close to that bad.

chilenozoOctober 31, 2013

Quote from: the

I hope the Wii U fails and fails miserably. Then at around 2018 or so we can expect a console that will actually be competitive with the rest of the industry, and be loaded with REAL games, and not be relegated to Shovelware Dumping Bin for the third gen in a row.

Why would you expect that?

Are you blind? the fact is that Nintendo can't compete in hardware at the same level as Sony and MS!

They are a videogame company ONLY, they need to make money as quickly as possible. MS and Sony, since more than 10 years ago, decided that they will give you the best possible hardware at the expense of their own money, they moved money from other divisions, and waited until the instal-base was big enough to start making any money. Nintendo does not have that luxury. From what division they gonna move money from?

Power will not bring back AAA, 3rd parties, they have been rare compared to the other consoles since the N64, despite the Wii, DS, and 3DS being huge sellers!...clearly there are more politics involved than just lack of hardware!

The only thing that may bring back enthusiastic 3rd parties, is, again, spend as much money as MS and Sony and get some AAA exclusives...so do you believe that Nintendo has money to "waste" it for years while they sell a console at a loss (+ R & D expenses), while they pay 3rd parties to port their games, etc, etc?

Sorry but the only real thing that Nintendo can do is to sell consoles for cheap, and be ready to support their hardware as if they were the only ones supporting them.

If the WiiU would have cost, say 200, with 8+ Nintendo games at launch, plus another 8 games during the following year, that would have sold better. The Wii won cause motion controls and cheap hardware, the entire handheld division always wins cause they make Fisher-Price child-proof (and almost nuclear bomb proof ;) ) hardware at cheap costs, and they support them so well that like the 10 most sold games of the handhelds are almost always Nintendo games only!...

The 3DS is showing what Nintendo could have done...don't let 3DS numbers blind you, the big AAA 3rd parties (specially western studios) are not making games for it!!!! (always there are some exemptions, like CAPCOM)...despite that the 3DS is selling pretty well (destroying the nearest competition, the Vita, 10 to 1!!!...that has never happened with any other hardware before!)...cause Nintendo support that machine like crazy.

So, wrapping up. Nintendo is guilty for having underestimated price and support. Iwata has to answer what the hell did they do with the warchest (from Wii and DS years)....I couldn't believe that they delayed Pikimn 3, from the Wii to the WiiU...are you telling me that the last 3-4 years Nintendo EAD has only been making 2 or 3 games for the WiiU since years ago?....that's lazyness and lack of oversight!...Nintendo saw Sony buying studios like crazy cause they wanted to be ready to support their machines!...Nintendo should have humbled down and should have bought 2 or 3 studios (other than the ones they currently have) to help them making more games for the WiiU!...yeah, now they say that making HD is tough, but I am not going to forgive them cause they had the time and the money to be prepared, and they didn't. They left the Wii sinking for the last 3 years and they are telling me that they have not use that time to create HD games? WTF!

RazorkidOctober 31, 2013

Quote from: chilenozo

Quote from: the

I hope the Wii U fails and fails miserably. Then at around 2018 or so we can expect a console that will actually be competitive with the rest of the industry, and be loaded with REAL games, and not be relegated to Shovelware Dumping Bin for the third gen in a row.

Why would you expect that?

Are you blind? the fact is that Nintendo can't compete in hardware at the same level as Sony and MS!

They are a videogame company ONLY, they need to make money as quickly as possible. MS and Sony, since more than 10 years ago, decided that they will give you the best possible hardware at the expense of their own money, they moved money from other divisions, and waited until the instal-base was big enough to start making any money. Nintendo does not have that luxury. From what division they gonna move money from?

Power will not bring back AAA, 3rd parties, they have been rare compared to the other consoles since the N64, despite the Wii, DS, and 3DS being huge sellers!...clearly there are more politics involved than just lack of hardware!

The only thing that may bring back enthusiastic 3rd parties, is, again, spend as much money as MS and Sony and get some AAA exclusives...so do you believe that Nintendo has money to "waste" it for years while they sell a console at a loss (+ R & D expenses), while they pay 3rd parties to port their games, etc, etc?

Sorry but the only real thing that Nintendo can do is to sell consoles for cheap, and be ready to support their hardware as if they were the only ones supporting them.

If the WiiU would have cost, say 200, with 8+ Nintendo games at launch, plus another 8 games during the following year, that would have sold better. The Wii won cause motion controls and cheap hardware, the entire handheld division always wins cause they make Fisher-Price child-proof (and almost nuclear bomb proof ;) ) hardware at cheap costs, and they support them so well that like the 10 most sold games of the handhelds are almost always Nintendo games only!...

The 3DS is showing what Nintendo could have done...don't let 3DS numbers blind you, the big AAA 3rd parties (specially western studios) are not making games for it!!!! (always there are some exemptions, like CAPCOM)...despite that the 3DS is selling pretty well (destroying the nearest competition, the Vita, 10 to 1!!!...that has never happened with any other hardware before!)...cause Nintendo support that machine like crazy.

So, wrapping up. Nintendo is guilty for having underestimated price and support. Iwata has to answer what the hell did they do with the warchest (from Wii and DS years)....I couldn't believe that they delayed Pikimn 3, from the Wii to the WiiU...are you telling me that the last 3-4 years Nintendo EAD has only been making 2 or 3 games for the WiiU since years ago?....that's lazyness and lack of oversight!...Nintendo saw Sony buying studios like crazy cause they wanted to be ready to support their machines!...Nintendo should have humbled down and should have bought 2 or 3 studios (other than the ones they currently have) to help them making more games for the WiiU!...yeah, now they say that making HD is tough, but I am not going to forgive them cause they had the time and the money to be prepared, and they didn't. They left the Wii sinking for the last 3 years and they are telling me that they have not use that time to create HD games? WTF!

I agree with this assessment. And time will tell (very shortly too) where console buying habits are going in the greater economy beyond the core gamer.  With not very exciting  launch line ups and nothing really big to speak of coming in the next 3 months after Christmas, I'm really curious to see just how fast new system uptake will be, especially with the Xbone costing $500.  This is not to excuse Nintendo's lack of hardware sales, but if the PS4 and Xbone catch up to WiiU LTD sales by the end of Christmas, well, it will be sad. 

ymeegodOctober 31, 2013

"Nintendo does not have that luxury. From what division they gonna move money from?"

LOL?  Try the 20+ year warchest of something like 10+ billion dollars.  MS is just an giant but Sony's is in far worse shape than Nintendo--Sony's been bleeding money like made for the last 10 years or so in just about all their major devisions and they only reason they don't take larger losses (though they did take an 200 million loss just for the last quarter) is because they are selling assets. 
Sony's the one that can't afford to waste money, one of the main reasons why you don't see more exclusive Vita games, so this PS4 could as well be the last console from them if it doesn't sell (which I doubt because I think it's going be the "king" of next generation).

BlackNMild2k1October 31, 2013

Quote from: NWR_Neal

Decimal point in the wrong spot! It was 15 million! My bad.

You still didn't fix the article. that line confused me as well.

Quote from: chilenozo

The 3DS is showing what Nintendo could have done...don't let 3DS numbers blind you, the big AAA 3rd parties (specially western studios) are not making games for it!!!! (always there are some exemptions, like CAPCOM)...despite that the 3DS is selling pretty well (destroying the nearest competition, the Vita, 10 to 1!!!...that has never happened with any other hardware before!)...cause Nintendo support that machine like crazy.

So, wrapping up. Nintendo is guilty for having underestimated price and support. Iwata has to answer what the hell did they do with the warchest (from Wii and DS years)....I couldn't believe that they delayed Pikimn 3, from the Wii to the WiiU...are you telling me that the last 3-4 years Nintendo EAD has only been making 2 or 3 games for the WiiU since years ago?....that's lazyness and lack of oversight!...Nintendo saw Sony buying studios like crazy cause they wanted to be ready to support their machines!...Nintendo should have humbled down and should have bought 2 or 3 studios (other than the ones they currently have) to help them making more games for the WiiU!...yeah, now they say that making HD is tough, but I am not going to forgive them cause they had the time and the money to be prepared, and they didn't. They left the Wii sinking for the last 3 years and they are telling me that they have not use that time to create HD games? WTF!

I agree with this.

jayarOctober 31, 2013

You know what would make this article really shine? A bar graph.

smallsharkbigbiteNovember 04, 2013

I used to think that Nintendo would just ride out this generation like the Gamecube.  Now I'm not so sure. 


The recent investor meeting Nintendo didn't change the seemingly ridiculous sales target for the next 6 months and Iwata said (paraphrasing) that if Wii U sales didn't improve they would have to do something else.  This would make me sad.  I've bought a Wii U and I actually think it's fairly good hardware if lacking in games. 


If Nintendo drops the Wii U, I think the only rational response if for them to go home console 3rd party.  PS/Microsoft have an ecosystem that 3rd parties like.  Making a powerful console alone won't bring them back.  They'll have to moneyhat pretty hard to start bringing third parties back and they won't do that.  I don't want them to start a Sega death spiral and release a new console every 2 years. 

Kytim89November 04, 2013

It's absolutely insane to think that Nintendo will go third party in the same way that SEGA did twelve years ago. Even if Nintendo bails out of the home console market it will only be temporarily. Nintendo is not the game company that had to burn through billions of cash just to get where they are now. Nor have they had to sell head quarters, or have their stock rating reduced to junk status. Nintendo would simply regroup for a return in 2015 or 2018. During this time Nintendo would put their full support behind the 3DS, and eventually its successor.  Nintendo would most likely reveal a handheld/home console hybrid at E3 2016 or E3 2018.

smallsharkbigbiteNovember 04, 2013

The hybrid console concept has been beat to death.  If you choose to believe the mythical creature will save Nintendo then good for you.  I'm not going to go into another detailed discussion about it.  I'll just summarize what I've said before.  The home console market is about power (which no hybrid would be able to compete with at least at a reasonable cost) and games which the 3DS can't compete with (GTA5, COD, Battlefield, Halo, really any 95% of the games in the NPD top 50).  The 3DS gained success when it had a huge price cut to differentiate it from tablets.  The handheld market is extremely price sensitive and I don't think a $300 handheld could be successful. 


The Wii was a successful gimmick.  Take that out and every Nintendo console since the SNES has been less successful.  Sure the Wii U could save itself but 460,000 sold is pretty good indicator that it won't be the success they expected.  From a sales perspective N64>Gamecube>Wii U.  If they let go of the Wii U go after two years I don't know why we all expect the next system to do well.  The Wii U is good hardware at least in the ballpark of the PS4/XboxOne unlike the Wii.  The reason people aren't choosing it is games.  Nintendo doesn't get the 3rd party games people want and first party games aren't enough for people to buy a $300 console when people are getting fulfilled with the games they want on other systems. 


When Nintendo was a monopoly or at least market dominant they could stronghold third parties.  Now they can't but they haven't changed their relations with third parties leading to third parties dropping them.  I don't think they can get them back without either offering money hats or creating a very successful console.  But how do you create a very successful console without 3rd party support? 


Nintendo will probably will come out with another home console.  But I think it's 50/50 they do worse than the Wii U.  That would be catastrophic when you factor in the billions in R&D a console costs.  Now, it wouldn't bankrupt them yet, but when do you stop beating your head against the wall thinking doing the same thing will turn out better this time?  I just want Nintendo games and I think Nintendo would be a much stronger third party than Sega because they have better brands and have more first party talent.  I think they could get mad moneyhats and I think they could be GTA5 big as a third party which could turn out more profitable for them in the long run. 

Stoeff.atNovember 06, 2013

As someone owning almost every Nintendo console and handheld - and none of MSs or Sonys - I think Nintendo deserves bad sales for building shitty hardware and making mistakes people could not even understand in the Gamecube era.

AdrockNovember 06, 2013

I never want to see Nintendo go third party. Ever. I don't want to potentially be locked out of platform exclusive titles. Buy a Playstation for Mario or Xbox for Zelda. F that noise. Twice. In the face. Half of the games I buy are published by Nintendo. I'm content buying one console and one handheld from them. Nintendo just has to stop being so stubborn with certain things and they could immediately have a much more successful home console.

And again, the hybrid console/handheld won't work. I'd rather Nintendo continue releasing two platforms that do what they do individually really well than one hybrid that does two things not as well.

Luigi DudeNovember 06, 2013

If Nintendo went third party, we can kiss all the niche games they released goodbye.  Some people love to say all Nintendo releases is Mario, Zelda and Pokemon, but then forget some of the niche games they release like Sin and Punishment or The Wonderful 101.  The reason Nintendo releases these niche games in the first place is to help fill the gaps in their lineups and to try and make their library a little more appealing to people who aren't fans of Nintendo's bigger series.  That's one of the reasons they're funding Bayonetta 2 as well, even if the original wasn't that successful for Sega. 

If Nintendo was to suddenly become third party, they lose the reason to even release these more niche series in the first place because they don't have any console they're trying to support by themselves anymore. 

Mop it upNovember 07, 2013

I don't even think Nintendo's big games like Mario and Zelda would be as good on other platforms as they are on their own. Nintendo design the hardware that best suits their games and also the type of hardware architecture that they work the best with, so if they had to use another company's hardware then they probably wouldn't do as well making games with it.

MagicCow64November 07, 2013

Imagine how half-assed their forced achievements would be.


"Kills 20 Moblins: Kill 20 Moblins"

smallsharkbigbiteNovember 07, 2013

Quote from: Adrock

I never want to see Nintendo go third party. Ever. I don't want to potentially be locked out of platform exclusive titles. Buy a Playstation for Mario or Xbox for Zelda. F that noise. Twice. In the face. Half of the games I buy are published by Nintendo. I'm content buying one console and one handheld from them. Nintendo just has to stop being so stubborn with certain things and they could immediately have a much more successful home console.

I agree, but I'm also a realist.  I absolutely think Nintendo can compete with Sony/Microsoft but they choose not to.  They continually choose not to so I don't have much hope that they will suddenly become competitive even though it's easy to armchair quarterback and say where their shortcomings lie. 


Nintendo has a very successful handheld model going.  I think they can sustain multiple failures.  I don't have the angst of an Ian against Nintendo.  But I bought a Wii U.  I've bought numerous Nintendo games.  If they give up on the Wii U, I'm not going to buy their next console until they show they aren't going to abandon it.  Sure, I'm one of only 4 million people that bought a Wii U so they may not feel loyalty to me since we can't support the Wii U the way they want.  But I think this is a tipping point for Nintendo.  Do they keep releasing a non-traditional console every 2 years trying to find the next gimmick until one sticks?  It's not easy to keep finding gimmicks.  Motion control worked.  Tablet with console appears to have not worked.  3D in the 3DS appears to have not worked.  Yes, that handheld was successful, but they are now releasing a 2DS and comments from Nintendo seem to indicate they won't bring another 3D console to market. 


In my head my thinking is Sony has enough similar (albeit less successful) franchises that they wouldn't pay for Nintendo games.  I think Microsoft has nothing similar and would chomp at the bit to have exclusive Nintendo games or they would release games for both consoles.  So you wouldn't have to pick up both consoles to experience Nintendo games. 

Quote:

If Nintendo was to suddenly become third party, they lose the reason to even release these more niche series in the first place because they don't have any console they're trying to support by themselves anymore.

I don't see this.  Nintendo has X employees working on games and they want to keep those people gangfully employed because they believe in the work they do.  Reading Iwata's comment they don't want to layoff staff.  They can't just go from Mario game to Mario game unless they are trying to devalue the brand and turn Mario into Sonic.  Nintendo has been emphatic that they will not intentionally lose money to bring something to market.  Sometimes the time is right for things.  Maybe VC sales of Sin and Punishment were very good and they thought a Wii version would make money.  Maybe it was a low cost/low risk game and they wanted to try it out.  I don't know, but I'm sure they had a business plan that said it was a good idea.  They won't bring a FE game to the Wii U because they are afraid it will lose money.  I'm sure they didn't think let's release a Sin and Punishment that will lose money for the fans.  Ultimately a game making money is indicative of the fans appreciating it (or at least having interest in it) and they aren't ever going to aim to bring a niche game to the market that they think will only sell 50,000 because honestly losing money for 50,000 fans is never good business and those resources could be spent making a larger portion of the base happy. 

Quote:

I don't even think Nintendo's big games like Mario and Zelda would be as good on other platforms as they are on their own. Nintendo design the hardware that best suits their games and also the type of hardware architecture that they work the best with, so if they had to use another company's hardware then they probably wouldn't do as well making games with it.

Could you explain further?  Obviously Wii Sports/Nintendo Land are fun diversions that couldn't be done on other consoles.  But as a core gamer, Mario/Zelda/Metroid are the games that mostly bring me back to Nintendo as a game company.  I don't see how an HD version of those games without forced waggle control wouldn't have been better on the PS3 rather than the Wii.  I owned both a Wii/PS3.  I love Nintendo games mostly more than my PS3 games (PS3 was my first Sony console), but the PS3 was by far a better gaming experience for my taste.  I mean Mario in HD in 2007 would have been great.  I hated the forced motion controls in NSMB Wii.  Absolutely hated them.  I'm sure others didn't, but I still don't know how they were at all better than just tacking on classic controller support with no motion controls whatsoever. 

Got a news tip? Send it in!
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement