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January sales show continued rough tides for the Wii U
January sales show continued rough tides for the Wii U
February 14, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

The NPD Group has released its U.S. video game retail estimates for January 2013, but they require a little bit of explanation.

The NPD's reporting schedule aligns with the National Retail Federation's, including its "leap week", which happened to fall on this January's monthly calendar.

So when we say that video game retail sales jumped 9 percent in January, that's not a fair comparison: January 2013 was a five-week month, whereas January 2012 was only four.

With some simple math to adjust for the difference and estimate what a four-week January would have been, overall new retail sales across hardware, software and accessories is down an estimated 13 percent, from $765.6 million in January 2012 to roughly $667.8 million in January 2013.

The Wii U

While the NPD no longer provides specific sales numbers for hardware, a representative does tell us that sales of the Wii U hardware for its first three months on the market are down 38 percent from what the Wii's numbers were at that same point.

We're told by someone with access to the NPD's data that sales for January were "well under" 100,000 units. By our estimates, sales were somewhere between 45,000 and 59,000 units for the month, which is lower than any of the three previous-generation home consoles sold in their worst months, with the possible exception of a recent performance by the original Wii.

Similarly, we don't know any software sales numbers, but from NPD's report we can see where Wii U SKUs of multiplatform games compare to other SKUs, and it doesn't look good.

In instances where a game exists on both the Wii and the Wii U (Just Dance 4, NBA 2K13, Madden NFL 13, Skylanders Giants and FIFA Soccer 13), the Wii version came out on top every time. In Madden's case, it was even outsold by the portable version for Sony's ailing Vita handheld.

Top 10 software chart (SKUs combined)

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (360, PS3, Wii U, PC)
2. Far Cry 3 (360, PS3, PC)
3. Just Dance 4 (Wii, 360, PS3, Wii U)
4. NBA 2K13 (360, PS3, Wii, Wii U, PSP, PC)
5. Madden NFL 13 (360, PS3, Wii, PSV, Wii U)
6. DMC: Devil May Cry (PS3, 360)
7. Halo 4 (360)
8. Assassin's Creed III (360, PS3, Wii U, PC)
9. Skylander Giants (Wii, 360, PS3, 3DS, Wii U)
10. FIFA Soccer 13 (PS3, 360, PSV, Wii, Wii U, 3DS, PSP)

By the numbers

Video game hardware: $205M (+4% actual, -17% adjusted)
Video game software (console, handheld): $373.1M (+1% actual, -19% adjusted)
Video game software (console, handheld, and PC): $392.9M (Flat actual, -20% adjusted)
Video game accessories: $256.6M (+30% actual, +3% adjusted)
Total video game sales: $834.7M (+9% actual, -13% adjusted)

Estimated used game, rental and "other physical" sales: $141M
Estimated digital sales: $382M
Total estimated video game spend in US: $1.3B

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Bob Johnson
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We will see these headlines for a good 12-18 months until the game lineup shores up.

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To make it look like bad news, Wii U numbers where compaired to Wii numbers in the same release time frame. Want to see this comparison happen for Next PS and Xbox when they hit, if they hit this year. Wii U needs a weather channel app, a star map app, and Wii U sports.

Leon T
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I can see them dropping the price if they have a few more months like this or lower. They might just ride it out though and hope one of the games that come out this year lift sales.

Leon T
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Nothing is going to help if Nintendo doesn't push the system. I don't see the Wii U advertised anywhere. When they launched the Wii I saw it everywhere.

William Johnson
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I personally didn't buy a WiiU because its priced too high. I assume that I'm not the only one that thinks that.

Despite how critical I am of Nintendo, I still enjoy their games (usually). But the console is straight up $100 too expensive for me to justify it. I think Nintendo knew this too, but didn't want to suffer WiiU shortages like they did with the Wii, so they priced it higher to insure that they could control supply and demand. Same exact thing happened with the 3DS.

I don't know if its good to start off so slow out of the gate. Because success begets success. That's what happened with the Wii. It was affordable, everyone talked about it, which got more people to buy it, and talk about it more, so it was a pretty good ride for 3 years.

But of course when an economist looks back at it, they think about how much money Nintendo left on the floor for stores to price gouge consumers to try and curve demand. But I honestly think the Wii wouldn't have been able to be as successful at anything higher then $250.

Anyway, I suspect that Nintendo will be announcing a price drop around E3 and an ambassador program, like they did with the 3DS.

Wolf Wozniak
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Waiting for a new Nintendo IP.

Ian Fisch
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I don't think a new IP is gonna move systems - especially since it will be competing with games from the next xbox and playstation.

I think really eye-popping Mario Galaxy and Zelda sequels is what they need.

John Flush
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To this day I'm surprised that people don't think all Nintendo has to do with their games is add some depth. I mean they could take the Wii bowling game right out of sports and turn it into a real bowling game with very little effort. Leagues, progressions (beyond one dumb little graph) averages, tournaments (online or off) and make a real game out of it. Same thing with Pilotwings, if they actually made a game out of it instead of a tech demo all their games would be instantly revitalized and actually appeal more to the core gamer.

They don't need a new IP, they need to actually make their current Wii 'Mii' brand into real games.

Ron Dippold
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Well, they don't have good exclusive games, and no games that are so good you have to buy the system are on the way either (or they wouldn't be hauling Luigi out). This is just treading water.

Ujn Hunter
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Bayonetta 2. The only reason I bought a Wii U. ;)

GameViewPoint Developer
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They need to drop the price of the Wii U, and I'll be surprised if that's not the plan as a way to compete with the new Xbox and PS.

Sean Kiley
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Just needs the games. Wii U will sell out once they release a skylanders-like pokemon.

Dane Warnick
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I think that people are just off put by the gimmicky nature of the Wii U, plus like other comments have said there are no must have games out for it as of now. Also since the holiday rush is over I think we are starting to see real sales numbers, not just hype.