Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 23, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 23, 2014
PR Newswire
View All
View All     Submit Event

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:

UK: Xbox One and PS4 software sales very strong against Wii U
by Matt Matthews on 12/06/13 12:18:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


After only a week on the market, Microsoft's new Xbox One has moved as much retail software in the UK as Nintendo's Wii U did in eight months, according to new data from GfK Chart-Track reported by MCV UK. For its part, Sony sold more than 75,000 units of retail PlayStation 4 software in the UK prior to the release of the system itself.

These early results show the strength of Microsoft and Sony in a territory that adored Nintendo's last console, the Wii. More than 8.4 million Wii consoles were sold in the UK, and it wasn't until this past summer that Microsoft's previous console, the Xbox 360, was able to surpass Nintendo's installed base.

For years now, sales rates for Nintendo's older systems have been declining, leaving the market open to an aggressive Microsoft and hungry Sony. Now consumers appear poised to embrace the new consoles, while simultaneously rejecting the lower-priced Wii U and Nintendo's slate of unique software.

To get an idea of the scale of the situation, the table below shows estimates for the software sales units per platform for the past 12 months. This data runs through the end of the retail month of November, which ended before the release of the PlayStation 4 hardware in the UK.

Unlike the data that the NPD Group reports in the U.S., this data includes software that is bundled with hardware. And, in the case of the Xbox One, that includes thousands of bundled copies of Forza 5 and FIFA 14. That accounts for approximately one third of the total software units listed above for the Xbox One.

Also, I put the new platforms at the bottom, because they've not really comparable to systems which have been out for at least a year.

However, as the figures show, the Xbox One had a tremendous launch compared to the Wii U's launch a year ago. And, given recent reports on hardware sales in the UK, the platforms have roughly the same size installed hardware base, even at this early point in the Xbox One's lifetime.

Depending on the follow-through in December, and the tempo of Xbox One sales in 2014, the Xbox One could surpass the Wii U in software sales as soon as January or February.

And that leaves open the question of what's going to happen with the PlayStation 4. We already know that the 250,000 system PS4 launch in the UK has given it around an 80,000 system lead over the Xbox One. That means that its software sales should be just as robust when they are revealed in the coming weeks.

If Sony and Microsoft have both sufficiently primed the market for their systems, and don't leave consumers lacking for software in the coming months, they will likely find the new year much more favorable than the beginning of 2013 was for Nintendo.

Nintendo does have some good news in these figures, as the Nintendo 3DS has seen its software sales rise significantly as the Nintendo DS ends its life on store shelves. For example, just looking at November sales, the Nintendo 3DS saw its sales increase 33 percent from 2012 to 2013. However, total Nintendo handheld software sales fell 24 percent overall since the gain in 3DS software didn't come close to offsetting the decline in DS software.

And while Sony has seen great success with its PlayStation 4, the same cannot be said for the PlayStation Vita. Sony's newest handheld saw its November sales fall a staggering 65 percent from the same period in 2012. At least Nintendo still has Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. to put out on the Wii U – what does Sony have that could possibly encourage consumers to give the PSV another look?

For the sake of completeness, here are the estimates I have for total revenue generated by these platforms.

Related Jobs

Nexon America, Inc.
Nexon America, Inc. — El Segundo, California, United States

Localization Coordinator
Petroglyph Games
Petroglyph Games — Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

DeNA Studios Canada
DeNA Studios Canada — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Analytical Game Designer
Xsolla — Sherman Oaks, California, United States

Senior Business Development Manager


André Pequeno
profile image
The article is being too negative about the Wii U. Who wrote is just jumping on the bandwagon of the "Wii U is dead" (when pretty much all consoles sell poorly in their first semester; that happened to 3DS, to the PS3 and to the Xbox 360 as well).

Also, everybody knows that the Wii U didn't do well in the first semester and that the end of year results would not be good. However, what's important now is the second semester, when the console started to get more relevant titles. If the Wii U had a reaction, then we could see a future for it. On the contrary, yes, you could say it is really dead.

And guess what? The Wii U is doing a lot better now.

In July it started selling more than 30k a month, something that hasn't happened since March. And the console had strong October and a even stronger November. You can see this even better with compare it with the PS Vita.

In September they were both at 36k. But in October the Wii U took the lead with 66k, while the Vita remained at 36k. In November the Wii U was at 88k while the PS Vita was at only 44k.

We can expect a pretty strong December with sales easily surpassing 100k (maybe even going beyond 150k).

Instead of writing a biased article trying to get easy views from the crowd who would love to see the Wii U failing, why not write something more balanced and well thought?

Yes, this year wasn't good for the Wii U. Yes, the PS4 and Xbox One had both impressive launches. Yes, this is bad for Nintendo.

But the Wii U has been clearly reacting. New games like Pikmin 3 and Mario 3D World are clearly doing a good job at making the Wii U look more appealing. And December is looking good the Wii U.

Why not analyse the charts as they really are?

Ben Sheftel
profile image
The article is split into home consoles and handhelds. Contrasting the Vita to the Wii U seems to be more of a forced comparison than the author's. Also, why would a bunch of game developers love to see the Wii U fail?

Kujel s
profile image
@Ben Sheftel: Many devs in the west have it in for Nintendo sadly, probably due to the fact most publishers don't care about quality like Nintendo and thus vastly under sell Nintendo's own games, that and it's cool to hate Nintendo these days for some reason.

Ian Fisch
profile image
I think most western developers wondered why Nintendo thought it was a good idea to sell a console with last gen specs for $350

Steven Bobson
profile image
"Nintendo does have some good news in these figures, as the Nintendo 3DS has seen its software sales rise significantly as the Nintendo DS ends its life on store shelves. For example, just looking at November sales, the Nintendo 3DS saw its sales increase 33 percent from 2012 to 2013."

3DS's increase in October and November is entirely due to Pokemon and probably not a trend for the system.

Matt Matthews
profile image
André: I believe that I've written a reasoned analysis of the figures in the proper context for the market right now. The Wii U has almost zero support from third parties in the coming months, particularly Western third parties, and that limits its future significantly. I believe the market results reflect that the consumer sees little value in the Wii U. As I said in a recent column, the Wii U will effectively be a Nintendo-only platform going forward. If you're happy with that, fine, but the market will likely show that consumers are not willing to spend a lot of money on such a system. That's my belief.

Kujel: I don't know if devs have it in for Nintendo, but I do believe that Nintendo has a history with retailers and publishers that is currently making an already difficult market even more challenging for them. There is certainly blame to go around. As I've said before, publishers have ignored the huge installed base of the Wii, and failed to exploit it -- that is on them as much as Nintendo.

Steve: Yes, that's true, but I think any strength for the 3DS is a good sign for Nintendo. They have lost much of their audience in the UK, now that the NDS is practically gone, but the 3DS results show that Nintendo's system still has a following that can be relied upon to buy the important titles.

Thanks for the comments, all.

Kaze Kai
profile image
Who buys a Nintendo console for third party games? That's not counting the ones that are their permanent bitches like SEGA.

Leonardo Martinez
profile image
While I think it is a detrimental element, I don’t think that the lack of 3rd party support is necessarily the most limiting factor for the Wii U going forward. It seems to me that the price is the most pressing issue. I believe that given the fact that in the west, the 3DS is being carried on mostly by Nintendo’s 1st and 2nd party software, as most of its 3rd party software consists of small digital games or Japanese RPG or similar niche titles. While it has not gathered the same level of success as the DS, the 3DS is still in a very solid position worldwide in terms of sales, so it seems to me that there still exist a viable market for Nintendo platforms, but said market is just unwilling to buy a Nintendo dedicated machine at $300.00 USD.

That price is just too high for the young, casual and family audiences that Nintendo tends to cater to, as well as the “core” gamers who would be willing to buy a second console for the Nintendo games. It’s also too close to the price of the way more technically advanced PS4, while too high compared to the more technically comparable PS3 and X360. As things stand, while I really doubt it would have repeated the success of its predecessor, or reach the same level of sales that the PS4 and Xbox One are achieving right now, I think the Wii U would be in an overall better position if it had launched at $250 USD, even with its “last generation” specs.

In that sense, I think the fact that Nintendo can’t lower the price of the Wii U enough without compromising their own finances is probably a more pressing issue than their failure to get 3rd parties on board. I think the Gamepad, that neat but very expensive controller, on which they invested the differentiating factor for their new console, has inadvertently become a rock tied to the neck of the Wii U. It pains me to say that, because what I have played of games like Nintendo Land, Game & Wario and Rayman Legends actually makes me believe there is actually potential in that controller, but as things stand, it just has not become the hook that Nintendo expected.

As things stand, and given that most of the games they have released or are going to release in the coming months don’t use the Gamepad in any meaningful way, I wonder if it would be better for them to take the same measure they took with the 3DS and 2DS, and offer a basic, lower priced bundle of the Wii U without the Gamepad at $200.00 or so, while selling the Gamepad separately (probably bundled with Nintendo Land or other similar game). On the other hand, I also wonder if taking said measure would fragment the potential market for the Wii U in a more damaging way.

E Zachary Knight
profile image
I think it is pretty bad for the Wii U when the previous generation Wii is selling a lot more software than it is. This might be because the Wii is a whole lot cheaper than the Wii U and there is little reason to choose the Wii U over the Wii.

I was having this discussion yesterday. For every major game touted for the Wii U, there is an equivalent title for the Wii. Donkey Kong Country is both. New Super Mario is on both. There is a 3D Mario on both (two on the Wii for less than the cost of 3D World), There is Pikmin on both, Zelda on both, and a whole lot more.

Matthew Mouras
profile image
You have an interesting point in the games comparison. For example, the generational gap between Super Mario World and Mario 64 is probably much larger than the difference between Mario Galaxy and Mario 3D World.

There were enough unique features on the Wii U to pique my interest. I picked it up after the price drop and have been greatly enjoying it, however, I'm probably not the average video game consumer. I'm over 30, have a child, and don't get much TV time. The Wii U appealed to me because of the first party games and the ability to play console games in bed at night on the gamepad. It is also a joy to see 1st party Nintendo games in high definition.

Yes remote play is appealing on the PS4/Vita as well, but it will be another year or more before there are enough interesting titles for me to make a purchase.

Maybe I'm just a Nintendo apologist? I don't think there are other games out there like Mario 3D World, Wonderful 101, or Zombiu. There are currently many more interesting experiences on the Wii U than there are on the PS4/Xbox One, but I'm sure there are many fine games coming down the pipe in those platforms as well.

Christian Nutt
profile image
Though that argument also extends to next gen consoles, for the most part, so I'm not sure it holds a lot of water, at least intrinsically "X is on Y so who needs A on B?" What I mean is: Assassin's Creed, Need for Speed, Killzone, etc. Those are the games on the next gen consoles at the moment. They're all rehashes. The only new games are, what, Knack... and... eh?

Dedicated players tend to like sequels.

There's a conversation to be had on whether Nintendo is saturating the market but that's a specific argument.

E Zachary Knight
profile image

That may be true about dedicated and hardcore players. But what about people who never owned the Wii before? Or those who bought a Wii but didn't buy a lot of software?

Kaze Kai
profile image
Hey if you know a Wii equivalent to Lego City Undercover I will totally give that a try.

Also the only Zelda game on the Wii (exclusively) was crap anyway so how does that even count?

Chris Hendricks
profile image
There were many fans of Skyward Sword. I was on the fence, personally, although I did enjoy myself with it most of the time.

I'm puzzled why Zachary added Pikmin to the list of Wii games, though. While there was technically Pikmin with "New Play Control", they didn't really catch on. Pikmin was a GameCube series.

E Zachary Knight
profile image

The point was that there is a Pikmin game available for the Wii. If you have never owned a Pikmin game but were determined to try it, which would you rather get, a $100 Wii and a $20 Pikmin 2 or a $300 Wii U and a $60 Pikmin?

E Zachary Knight
profile image
I really don't want it said that I am bashing the Wii U or want it to fail, I am not. I am simply expressing my opinion on why I don't think Nintendo is making a compelling case for owning one. Of the 3 current gen consoles, the Wii U is the only one that I see myself buying at any point in the near future. But I am not really excited about any of them to the point that I must have them.

My game comparisons are simply what I feel as a Wii owner who has not bought a lot of software. I Have tons of games that I still have not bought for it that I want. Many of them are counterparts to the current Wii U library.

Kaze Kai
profile image
What kind of insane tasteless jagoff buys an xbone anyway when the PS4 is a thing? :V

Oh by the way I love my wii U, can't wait for more first party Nintendo games, that being the sole reason that I own one.

Jonathan Murphy
profile image
They spent the bulk of last gen losing core, and hardcore gamers. Casual grew, but casual goes where ever they want to(tablets). If Steambox sales are good that will mark the end of the Wii U. The sales numbers don't lie. Nintendo has dug themselves a very deep hole in 2013. 2014 will be make or break.

Cordero W
profile image
All I have to say: Burst sales vs. longterm sales. Short term vs. longterm. The Hot In Game vs. the Persistent Enjoyment Game.

I'll let you figure it out.