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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.