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Wii U still struggles in February sales charts
Wii U still struggles in February sales charts
March 14, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

March 14, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi
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    33 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



The NPD Group has released its U.S. video game retail sales figures for February 2013, furthering the trend of retail decline we've been seeing for quite some time.

Overall retail sales across new hardware, software and accessories was down 25 percent from where they were during February of 2012.

Hardware sales were hit hardest, with a 36% decline as purchases trail off in the shadow of new hardware such as the PlayStation 4 expected this year.

Wii U struggles continue

All eyes are on Nintendo's Wii U, which saw an incredibly rough January that may have seen sales as low as 57,000. This month, the NPD Group says that sales on a weekly average increased around 40 percent, meaning that monthly sales for the console were in the neighborhood of 64,000.

Its performance, when averaged out by week, is still significantly worse than any performance on record for either the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

Sources tell Gamasutra that January's performance was affected negatively by holiday speculators returning systems to stores when they couldn't resell them at a profit. However, it's hard to imagine that this was much of a factor in February, and these figures are alarming for a console only in its fourth month on shelves.

Top 10 software chart (SKUs combined)

(Note: SKUs are listed in descending order, with the first SKU listed being the one that sold the most units at retail)

1. Dead Space 3 (360, PS3, PC)
2. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (360, PS3, Wii U, PC)
3. Crysis 3 (360, PS3, PC)
4. NBA 2K13 (360, PS3, Wii, Wii U, PSP, PC)
5. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3, 360)
6. Aliens: Colonial Marines 2013 (360, PS3, PC)
7. Just Dance 4 (Wii, 360, PS3, Wii U)
8. Far Cry 3 (360, PS3, PC)
9. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3, PSV)
10. Madden NFL 13 (360, PS3, Wii, PSV, Wii U)

By the numbers

Percentage changes year-on-year

Video game hardware: $244.2M (-36%)
Video game software (console, handheld): $352M (-36%)
Video game software (console, handheld, and PC): $369.9M (-27%)
Video game accessories: $213.9M (-3%)
Total video game sales: $810M (-25%)

Estimated used game, rental and "other physical" sales: $90M
Estimated digital sales: $319M
Total estimated video game spend in US: $1.2B


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Comments


Phil Maxey
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I didn't understand Nintendo's thinking when I saw what the Wii U was, and I don't understand what their plan is either. To release well known francises on the Wii U and hope that diverts everyones attention from the PS4 and XBox 720 ? Did they think that a half way house between tablet and console was going to convince people to dump their iPads?

Some of my favourite games over the past 20 years have been Nintendo games. My favourite console of the past 20 years is a Nintendo machine. I'm not someone who wants to see Nintendo fail but equally how they seem to see the current/future gaming environment is baffling. Handheld gaming machines have been replaced by phones (I think we can drop the "smart" bit by now) and tablets. And Sony and MS are going to be going all out to try and control the living room.

If Nintendo wanted to jump ahead of the competition they just needed to release a true tablet console, they could of consolidated their handheld business and console business into one and would of had a device which would of taken on their true competitor which is Apple.

Can you imagine a SNES looking tablet/console, which you could also plug into a big screen? With new versions of Mario world, Mario Kart, Metroid and Zelda available at launch? It would of sold by the bucket load.

Bob Johnson
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The plan is a 2nd screen videogame system experience.

Phil Maxey
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Great, but that's not the public see it. They see it as a console that comes with a tablet, except it's not.

Johnathon Swift
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The Wii U could have fit on a tablet certainly, Tegra 4 is a good match in some ways technologically.

The whole "second screen" stuff they've tried to sell is dumb. We already KNOW two screens doesn't work for games unless you're doing some ultra wide field of view or ultra hardcore MMO stuff.

Phil Maxey
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@Johnathon

Exactly and they could of gotten away with current Gen visuals because everybody has lower expectations of the graphics capabilities of a tablet than they do a supposedly next Gen console.

Bob Johnson
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@Phil M

The public will eventually learn about it.

Bob Johnson
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@Jonathon

NintendoLand shows off interesting 2 screen ideas.

Standard split screen gaming is arguably better with 2 screens as well.

Phil Maxey
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@Bob Johnson

"The public will eventually learn about it."

But that's the point, why launch a perceived inferior console right at the start of the run up to the 2 biggest console launches of the last 10 years? Everyone is waiting for the PS4 and XBox 720, everyone is I suspect saving their money to buy one of those machines.

There's no time for anyone to "learn" about it because everyones waiting for consoles from the big 2. And don't forget it's going to be in competition with the Android consoles which are going to be a lot cheaper.

The console manufacturer which emerges from the next 5 years is going to be the one that grabs the current market opportunities first, and I don't think Nintendo have done that.

I think it stands a chance of some success if they cut the price drastically, I think maybe $149 plus Mario Kart etc it would sell to keep it going, otherwise it's just going to be squeezed from all sides.

Bob Johnson
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@Phil M

Well they didn't purposely launch a perceived inferior console out of the gate. lol.

They did what they did with the Wii. I don't see much difference. IT just wasn't a lead off home run.

But eventually the games pile up and the price drops and the public learns more about it and it looks more attractive.

The other guys aren't going to look super great out of the gate either. Their price points are going to be high. The games are likely to be ports of 360/PS3 games for a good year at least.
And launch games are going to be rough for the most part.

But as always if no one likes what they are selling and the games don't turn it around then they will fail. That is always the challenge.

Jimmy Albright
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Biggest problem right now is a lack of quality titles. I was just at the store the other day and was looking through the WiiU shelf and didn't see a single new exclusive WiiU title. If these numbers don't improve with Monster Hunter 3, Pikmin 3, Wind Waker rm etc, then I think that's the time to start worrying about nintendo.

I'm a firm believer in that games sell consoles, and getting some big exclusives out there needs to be Nintendo's biggest priority.

Ian Fisch
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The crazy thing is that they haven't even announced any titles to get people excited.

Would it kill them to release a couple screens of a Wii U Zelda or Mario Kart? It's like they're asleep at the wheel.

Michael Pianta
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@Ian Well, they did announce those things. They just haven't shown them. Mario Kart and 3D Mario are going to be revealed at E3 (and playable, which makes me think they'll probably come out this year). They also announced that they are working on the next proper Zelda, although that will probably not be shown at E3 based on what they've said so far. We can therefore assume that it is several years away. The HD Wind Waker is also supposedly coming out this year. They also announced and showed off that incredible looking Xeno-whatever game. I doubt that will come out this year though. Presumably that yarn Yoshi game will come out this year. Pikmin 3, Wonderful 101 are obviously coming out soon. Hopefully Bayonetta 2 will make this holiday.

Thinking about it just now they have announced high quality upcoming exclusives in nearly every major genre. But I think the issue is that people don't know in what time frame to expect these games. Will they come out soon or are they years away? You could interpret Nintendo's reluctance to put a date on it as a sign that they're still a long ways off, but I'm not sure that it's jus that. I think Nintendo likes to do these sort of "stealth" launches. I remember they used to hype games for years sometimes before they came out, and while they still do that some, they also now routinely keep things under wraps until just a few months before release. Case in point - Retro. What are they doing right now? We'll probably find out soon - certainly at E3 if not before. Recall that DKC:R was announced in June of 2010 and released in November that same year. Depending on what they're doing something like that could happen again.

Ian Fisch
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@Micheal

A picture is worth a thousand words. A trailer is worth about 1800 pictures, depending on the framerate.

Jorge Ramos
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The reason I've yet to pick up a WiiU include the fact that I'm still waiting for more bona-fide "mature" action games on the system. What I've seen of ZombiU interest me, but as a rule I never purchase a console for ONE game only. I'm hoping to see perhaps a successor to No More Heroes, and MadWorld, on the WiiU before I bite.

Even then, I'd still be keeping my original Wii plugged in; I still want my Gamecube fix every now and again.

What IS perplexing is that at first I was pleased that Nintendo finally seemed to take a page from the homebrew scene on the Wii and enabled native support for external storage for the WiiU... and at the same time basically don't allow being able to do anything meaningful with it. To my understanding, a WiiU will recognize external storage, but WILL NOT:
- let me install any games on it
- let me RUN any games FROM the external storage
- allow saves to be stored or loaded from it

So with these limitations, what the hell good is it to have an external hard drive attached to the WiiU? Personally I feel this is a HUGE oversight or knee-jerk of paranoia on the part of Nintendo, and felt like "one step forward, four steps back". It's rather sad that USB usage on the Wii's homebrew scene allows more than what Nintendo has officially allowed thus far with the WiiU. I hope since this system can be update, that Nintendo will reconsider and allow more freedom with the ability to support games and saves to and from external storage as well.

Bob Johnson
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Pretty sure you can run games from an external hard drive.

Jimmy Albright
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Biggest problem right now is a lack of quality titles. I was just at the store the other day and was looking through the WiiU shelf and didn't see a single new exclusive WiiU title. If these numbers don't improve with Monster Hunter 3, Pikmin 3, Wind Waker rm etc, then I think that's the time to start worrying about nintendo.

I'm a firm believer in that games sell consoles, and getting some big exclusives out there needs to be Nintendo's biggest priority.

Jonathan Murphy
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I saw parents cringe when they were told in store the Wii U costs, "$350". The employee then said, "Don't get the $300 version, it's crap." They left.

Nintendo should go into a store and watch people buy random crap they don't need. Take notes. I do all the time. There are too many freaking problems with this console. They recreated the PS3 with less horse power, less appeal, and no competition at launch!

A W
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No body (but maybe one person) paid any attention to the story. They all just focused in on what Nintendo is doing. I believe the story is painting a doom senario for gaming as we enjoy it if things don't start picking up fast.

Ian Fisch
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We're at the end of the longest console generation in history. This is to be expected.

What's crazy is that Nintendo decided to launch a $350 console that's roughly as powerful as consoles that released in 2006.

Ian Fisch
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@Christian

The playstation 2 launched in 2000. The playstation 3 launched in 2006. Six years.

The xbox launched in 2001. The xbox 360 launched in 2005. Four years.

So yea, this generation is the longest in history. Not to mention, you're comparing new hardware (Wii U), with hardware that's been available for the last 7 years and has probably come close to the saturation point.

Jonathan Murphy
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The price point is unfortunately matches the fall of the US dollar. To make a next gen console that is powerful, and not a profit loss may be impossible. However I will argue that controller did more harm than good. Do we need next gen gimmick $100 controllers?

If the US economy continues to spiral to the bottom you will see hyper inflation next next console generation. If game consoles rely on the USA for bulk sales they could be looking at an end. Profit will be no where near expected, because of the shrinking middle class(which currently runs on pocket change). Awareness of economy is the greatest factor to a successful console launch.

Bob Johnson
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@ian

Nintendo spent their money on the 2 screen gaming experience. And not on the best visuals.

A W
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First if your going to put the word gimmick next to Nintendo in your paragraph as a negative effect to stem from the real problem the overall market is facing, I'm not going to pay attention to that, because I believe after this years CES and the PS4 conference a lot of "Gimmicks" are coming from a control mechanized standpoint in gaming.

Whether Nintendo developed a controller you think is a gimmick or not is beside the point. And if you are a person that creates chip sets that go in to the technology we use, you have the authority to enlighten us on the power of the consoles, smartphones and the like, but if not then please refrain from that hollow argument as well. The point Christian has been making is extremely valid and if you are paying attention you will see that the gaming sector is moving into a direction of more at cheap, and has been for some time now. Your getting large swaths of PC / Console core gamers that are using Steam for deals only. You are getting gamers that have been educated to wait until the price drops on hardware, or to wait until the special edition software hits the selves with all the DLC contain in it for next to nothing, and your getting the buy it used because... argument. The Core gaming market is erratic and they are looking forward to the next bad news to argue over the net about, and to justify their buying habits. They obviously are not playing AAA games at good lengths or are not playing games at new retail prices. They are plaing them at used and sell prices. Then some are using outlets like Gamestop (which every core gamer seems to hate but continue to use) to get back more money off of their used / sell games to buy more used / sell games they may not like despite the grand epic time it and money it took to make them.

All I'm saying is that the Big three are really not noticing the trend here, and are continuing to produce high powered consoles at the expense of better graphics. I think the problem most have with Nintendo as of now doesn't stem from what they did, or what they are doing via controller or power per say. I think the problem is in the fact that they have joined the pretty graphics HD era when they seemed to have railed against it for a time. Gamers keep saying stupid stuff like "if they had of made a Wii2 HD and just had a standard controller then..." then what? You would be OK with that. They did just that and you are still not OK with it. I'm still trying to figure out what a standard gaming controller really is because in my experience with console gaming there has never been a standard controller. Any fool could have predicted that Nintendo would eventually catch up with the TV market once they believed the saturation was good enough. Now gamers want to talk about game consoles and computers supporting TV sets they couldn't even fit in their house or afford (4K anyone?)We are stuck arguing about sales records and power when we should be playing games on those systems. So what does that tell you about the deliver methods and enjoyability of those game that take so much money to make. People aren't enjoying them like they are some of the lesser titles on iOS and android devices.

All I have to say about the whole thing maybe for a blog post or something, but All I'm saying is if people are waiting for this or that because this or that has not occurred; this is not a good sign of things to come. It is a bad sign because there are too many people trying to predict the future rather that enjoying what they have now. People are not happy with now and that is what is causing this rift. Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft are going to do what they need to do to survive or they will leave the gaming market in some fashion. We are the market they leave when they do.

/rant

Chris Hendricks
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@A W Great rant. I'd like it twice if I could.

Johan Wendin
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So, video game hardware is down a staggering 36% (albeit year over year since the monthly stats are not shown) yet the Wii U increases by 40%, and is struggling?

Yes, the total amount is not high still. This is not surprising as the real system sellers aren't there yet (bad move on Nintendos behalf) - but an increase in monthly sales is a good thing, which the article seem to imply otherwise.

kevin Koos
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Does any one have the Wii sales numbers? I wonder how close they are to the Wii U in sales...

Adam Bishop
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One reason that sales might be falling is how one-note the gaming industry has become. Look at the charts: there are two sports games, 5 shooters, and Metal Gear Revengeance which is a gory action game. There's so little on offer in the console space any more that isn't aimed primarily at 16-24 year old males. Why should we be surprised that the audience is shrinking when the range of available games is shrinking too?

I went through my PS2 collection the other day and counted up the number of games where shooting was the primary game mechanic and found very few. Even the games I own from that era that feature guns often featured them as a small part of the overall experience (Silent Hill, Metal Gear Solid, etc.) Now almost every big game seems to feature gun play. Where are the games for people who like to do things other than fire assault rifles?

A W
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The independent brand has taken that market over, and they have been reluctant to make console games. I see a lot of them starting to make games for the e-shop markets these days, but exposure is a key method that the console market has to work on. I see e-shop doing a good job of exposing me to other types of games like Trine 2 and Runner, but it took a generation just to get that working right. I think that's why the Lego games are so popular, because they provide that other gaming experience that is sorely lacking these days in many games.

Zirani Jean-Sylvestre
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Well, every game will end as a shooter. If a game is successful, then team and budget will increase and business will put pressure to make next iterations as broad and mainstream as possible. You can say bye to "risky" design that would put ppl off.

I think that If you look up "Shooterization" in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Mass Effect 3.

Gern Blanston
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A W-

"The independent brand has taken that market over, and they have been reluctant to make console games."

Rather it's console manufacturers and major publishers that been reluctant to utilize their talents. I think most indie talents would jump at the opportunity if ever given the chance.

Zirani Jean-Sylvestre
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Is anyone really surprised ?

Mario Kummer
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As some said it looks like core games are changing their buying habits. I also changed how I buy games, from buying almost all good games on multiple consoles during launch to saving a lot of money buy just lagging behind.

For me there are 3 reasons: Lock in, DLCs and Backlog.

1. Lock in: most games now force you to lock them to an account. Of course such a game is not worth as much as a free tradable one. I used to sell a lot of games to buy new ones, the whole reselling thing enabled me to buy so much games and consoles. And can anyone remember exchanging games with their friends and family? Not so easy anymore. So for me I just dropped the price that I am willing to pay for "lockin" games.

2. DLC: I want to see the whole game, I realized with some games how much I hate it to get back into the game, maybe get used to control and environment again just for a few hours (not a full scale expansion) again and again. I don't do this any more, if a game like Skyrim or MassEffect 3 releases. I wait for the "All-In-One-Happiness" Version.

3. Backlog: For me there are more games then time. This weekend I finished Heavy Rain and then I started playing GranTurismo 5. I have so much games to play left, there is no reason to buy a game for 60 and not play it till it is already reduced ;) So a game has to be very very good to be bought new. For example Assassins Creed: Last Steam sale I bought 3 games as collection for I think 25 or 29. And I have finished 2 of them, still 1 to go, then there is another reduced part of the franchise and when I finally arrive at AC3 it will already be reduced.

The Backlog problem already hit the WiiU, for a long time its the first console that I don't buy on launch. I decided to maybe buy it in 5 years or so when all the Nintendo games I like are released. I will never have enough time to play through my backlog and catch up with the new games again. The result is that I spend less and less money on games while I still play a lot.

Wayne Beck
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"Sources tell Gamasutra that January's performance was affected negatively by holiday speculators returning systems to stores when they couldn't resell them at a profit. However, it's hard to imagine that this was much of a factor in February"

If, as your cited article heavily implies, Nintendo's sales numbers were under estimated because a sale was removed for every console returned, January Sales were closer to 100k. Accounting for the five week month, that's 80k. 40% of 80k is 32k. If February sales were up 40% week to week on January Sales, that would mean the sales in February were actually 112k. Double what your estimating in this article.

I would say that is "much of a factor".


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