Nintendo sold 714k Wiis in the month that GTA IV launched and Mario Kart Wii sold 1.12 million units for second place. Nintendo claimed six of the top ten software titles, eleven of the top twenty.
The greatest challenge about reporting NPD numbers is the need to repeat the same question: "Will Nintendo slow down?" For the past couple years, the answer has been "no." April, 2008 is no different.
April 2008 U.S. Hardware Sales
Wii – 714.2k
Nintendo DS – 414.8k
PlayStation Portable – 192.7k
Xbox 360 – 188.0k
PlayStation 3 – 187.1k
PlayStation 2 – 124.4k
Who expected the Wii to sell another seven hundred thousand or so units? Month after month Nintendo has proven that their new console, with its motion controller and IR pointer technology, is no fad. However, April should have posed more of a challenge for them: the immensely significant Grand Theft Auto IV was released towards the end of the month for the Wii's competition, and with Super Smash Bros. Brawl already out on the market, the Wii could easily have been expected to lose some ground. It didn't.
Instead, the Wii sold 714,200 more pieces of hardware to American gamers. This is an even faster pace than last month as the NPD reported four weeks of sales for its April data instead of the five weeks that March included. In March, the Wii sold 144,200 units a week, and in April it sold 178,550 units a week. Instead of slowing down in the face of increased competition, the Wii actually sped up.
The Wii couldn't sell this much without Nintendo actually manufacturing and shipping the units to put (briefly) on store shelves. Nintendo shipping this many Wiis to the American market two months in a row is very curious. Could there be light at the end of the Wii-supply-shortage tunnel? So far, betting against the Wii has proven misguided at best and deluded at worst, but Nintendo's increased manufacturing capacity, soon to be raised to 2.4 million units a month in July, may allow them to keep selling record numbers of Wiis as long as people are tearing them off the shelf.
Of course, Nintendo may have repeated the large American Wii shipments due to the launch of their flagship Mario Kart Wii game. Also, as Nintendo's new fiscal year began on April 1, they may have decided to start with a bang. That said, May could be just as big of a month for NOA as March and April were. With WiiWare and Wii Fit both falling in May, it'd be expected that Nintendo continue to ship large numbers of Wiis to the American market, if they can.
The Nintendo DS held on to the number two spot for Nintendo. But the handheld fell 283,200 units from its March total, and sold less units per week too. Curiously enough, last month the DS had no titles in the top ten software charts, and this month, with lower hardware sales, it had two. This goes to show that there's more to the video game industry than just what makes the top ten list.
There can be no better proof of this than the surprisingly dismal performance from the rest of the field. Last month we described March's numbers as "uninspiringly flat," yet they all managed to dip even lower this month. One would expect that the run-up to the release of GTA IV would drum up support for the consoles that the blockbuster title would release for, but both Xbox360 and PlayStation 3 sales actually deflated to numbers below the 200,000 mark. Once again, the Xbox 360 managed to outsell the PS3, but by a margin so small (900 units) that it almost seems a Pyrrhic victory.
In addition, the PSP and the PlayStation 2 also dropped about 100,000 units each and ended up below the 200,000 mark. The PS2 ended up at 124,400 units in sales for the month, still respectable after almost eight years on the market, but slowing down.
2008 Year-to-Date U.S. Hardware Sales
Wii – 2118.2k
Nintendo DS – 1974.4k
PlayStation 3 – 993.9k
PlayStation Portable – 962.8k
PlayStation 2 – 956.2k
Xbox 360 – 934.6k
Approximate Lifetime-to-Date U.S. Hardware Sales
PlayStation 2 – 42.0 million
Nintendo DS – 19.5 million
PlayStation Portable – 11.4 million
Xbox 360 – 10.0 million
Wii – 9.5 million
PlayStation 3 – 4.2 million
Year-to-date sales standings switched around a little due to the April sales. The Wii passed the DS as the top selling game console in the U.S. for 2008 with more than 2.1 million units so far. It's sold more than twice as many units as any of the non-Nintendo offerings on the market, all of which are just shy of the million mark.
Lifetime-to-date hardware sales also form an intriguing picture. The Wii is now about 500,000 units behind the Xbox 360 in terms of total consoles sold in the U.S. In April, the Wii closed the gap with the Xbox 360 by a whopping 526,200 units. How soon the Wii passes the Xbox 360 in American install base isn't just dependent on Nintendo's sales, though. It's also hard to imagine that the Xbox 360 will perform just as poorly in May as it did in April. May will be a full month of Grand Theft Auto IV sales, not just the five days that were included in the April data.
"It could be that many of those that went to buy the game in its first five days at retail were already owners of one or both of the systems," speculated NPD's Anita Frazier. "Down the road game sales may spur [further] hardware sales."
Still, since Grand Theft Auto IV couldn't do anything to raise Xbox 360 and PS3 sales in April, its effect in May is no longer a foregone conclusion. Indeed, the depressed sales of both the PS3 and Xbox 360 raises the question of just what Nintendo's two competitors need to get back into the game. It's only added fuel to the fire with regards to speculation as to when Sony or Microsoft or both will announce price cuts.
April 2008 U.S. Top Twenty Software Sales
Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360) – 1.85 million
Mario Kart Wii w/ Wheel (Wii) – 1.12 million
Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3) – 1.00 million
Wii Play w/Remote (Wii) – 360k
Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii) – 326k
Gran Turismo 5: Prologue (PS3) – 224k
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness (DS) – 202k
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time (DS) – 202k
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Wii) – 152k
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Xbox 360) – 141k
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP)
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (Xbox 360)
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3 (PS2)
Game Party (Wii)
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (PS2)
New Super Mario Bros. (NDS)
Mario Kart DS (NDS)
Rock Band (Xbox 360)
Mario Party DS (NDS)
Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
It's no surprise that Grand Theft Auto IV sold a whole load of units, enough to claim two of the top three spots on the software sales chart. The Xbox 360 version lead the pack with 1.85 million in sales, and the PS3 version took third place with a million units for Sony's console. However, since the Xbox 360 has a significantly larger install base in America compared to the PS3 (10 million versus 4.2 million), Sony can claim that GTA IV sold to a higher percentage of PlayStation 3 owners than Xbox 360: about 23% to 18.5%.
However, Nintendo held its own against the Grand Theft Auto juggernaut. Mario Kart Wii managed to snag the No.2 spot for Nintendo, selling 1.15 million units more in April and edging out GTA IV on the PS3.
Nintendo systems also managed to grab a majority of the top ten with four Wii games and two DS games making the charts. Extend that to encompass the top twenty and games from Nintendo systems hold eleven spots.
In fourth place is the incorrigible Wii Play w/ Remote, an evergreen success story with about 5.4 million units sold in the U.S. alone. Its success is both baffling and astounding. In comparison, the Xbox 360 version of the hardcore blockbuster Call of Duty IV (falling to tenth place for April) has sold only 4 million units.
Nintendo's major March release, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, also aided Nintendo's dominance with another 326,000 units sold. Combined with March data, this puts Nintendo's mascot-based fighting game at over 3 million sold.
The Nintendo DS was represented in the top ten by the two Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, each selling 202,000 units in seventh and eighth place. Activision's Wii version of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock is still selling strongly, adding another 152,000 units to lifetime sales that likely hover around 2 million. It will be sad to see GH III go, as go it must, for Guitar Hero Aerosmith launches at the end of June and will likely replace its predecessor in sales.
The top twenty contained several more entries from Nintendo platforms. Midway's Game Party can be found in fourteenth place, and the mini-game collection may be charting the same course that Take-Two's million-selling Carnival Games took. Indeed, Midway recently announced that the title has shipped more than 800,000 units worldwide. The other Wii game to appear was Nintendo's own Super Mario Galaxy, still hanging on as the twentieth best-selling game. Additionally, New Super Mario Bros. for the DS appears in sixteenth place, Mario Kart DS at seventeenth, and Mario Party DS at nineteenth.
April 2008 Top Ten Wii Software Sales
Mario Kart Wii
Wii Play w/ Remote
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
Super Mario Galaxy
Mario and Sonic: Olympic Games
Mario Party 8
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08
April 2008 Top Ten DS Software Sales
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time
New Super Mario Bros.
Mario Kart DS
Mario Party DS
Mario and Sonic: Olympic Games
Pokemon Diamond Version
The World Ends With You
Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day
April 2008 Additional U.S. Software Sales Numbers
The World Ends With You (DS) – 43k
Ninja Gaiden Dragon's Sword (DS) – 23.7k
Speaking of Carnival Games, it's still showing up in the Wii-specific top ten list. The specific Wii and DS sales charts also highlight another third party success story: Sega's Mario & Sonic: Olympic Games. Although these charts give no exact numbers, they do show that these older titles can continue to sell month after month even if they don't chart in the top ten.
Of the game sales NPD numbers that are available, we can find the sales of two third party DS titles. Square Enix's The World Ends With You racked up 43,000 units in April sales and was the ninth best-selling DS title in April. Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword sold only 23,700 copies. It is rare to see handheld titles achieve the sales numbers required to make it into the top ten software sales charts. However, titles for portable platforms are much cheaper to develop and can therefore prove profitable with lower sales numbers.
Overall, the video game industry sold $1.23 billion worth of products in the month of April according to NPD. But pure sales dollars may have put Nintendo in the lead despite lower priced games and hardware. Next Generation added up sales statements from both Microsoft and Sony press releases and subtracted their resulting April sales revenue estimates from the $1.23 billion industry total. Whatever was left could be Nintendo's slice of the gaming industry pie. They arrived at a surprising possibility: it may be that "consumers are now spending more per month on the Nintendo Wii than they are on the Xbox 360."
In addition to information from the NeoGAF Official NPD thread, this report also contains information from reports by the simExchange, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, Game Daily, and Next Generation.
Correction: the abstract for this story originally stated that Mario Kart Wii had sold 1.15 million units. It has since been corrected to the 1.12 million units that the text correctly described.