Sony and Microsoft's Sales Data Shows Just How Badly Nintendo's Wii U Has Failed

Nintendo's Wii U had a 12-month head start on Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 -- time completely wasted, in light of new sales data that should be seen as troubling for Nintendo.

As of December 28, Sony has sold 4.2 million PlayStation 4 consoles, while Microsoft had sold 3.1 million Xbox Ones as of the end of 2013. In comparison, Nintendo's Wii U -- despite debuting in November 2012 -- has sold just 5.2 million (based on recent sales estimates). Unless something completely changes in the first quarter of 2014, Nintendo should miss its Wii U targets, as both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 easily surpass it in popularity.

Nintendo's 9 million target
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has held steady in forecasting 9 million Wii U sales by the end of March. That's certainly possible, but seems highly unlikely. When Nintendo last reported earnings, it said that it had sold 3.9 million Wii Us as of the end of September.


Recent estimates from third-party sources (via VGChartz.com) put current sales higher -- near 5.2 million. But with the holiday shopping season over, Nintendo would more or less need a miracle to move another 3.8 million units by the end of March.

Nintendo's management had been hopeful that the fourth quarter would turn out well for the Wii U -- the company pushed a bundle that included two free Super Mario games alongside the console, while at the same time releasing Super Mario 3D World in November. That game garnered nearly universal praise, making it onto many video game publications' best-of-2013 lists and being dubbed a "creative masterpiece" by The Guardian.

Nintendo's Wii U is holding back its game sales
But because so few gamers actually own a Wii U, very few bought the title. In the U.K., rival platforming title Knack actually outsold Super Mario 3D World in November, despite receiving lukewarm-to-poor reviews.

In contrast to Nintendo's title, Knack's numbers may have been boosted by demand for Sony's console -- with only a handful of available games, some gamers may have purchased Knack simply to give themselves something to play on their brand new PlayStation 4.

Microsoft's Xbox One hasn't sold as well as Sony's PlayStation 4, but given that it's $100 more expensive and launched a week later, differences in sales data should be expected. Compared to Nintendo's Wii U, however, the Xbox One is an overwhelming success -- Microsoft's $500 console is more than 60% more expensive than the Wii U, but in two months Microsoft sold almost as many consoles as Nintendo did in 11.

Nintendo's living room strategy is hurting its shareholders
Despite the failure of the Wii U, it isn't all doom and gloom for Nintendo's business. Its 3DS continues to sell quite well, with more than 40 million consoles now sold worldwide. Nintendo-made 3DS titles like Pokemon X/Y and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds dominate video game sales charts. But as Nintendo is selling its Wii U at a loss, most -- or all -- of the money generated by its handheld business could be subsidizing its ailing living room console. In October, Nintendo reported an operating loss of more than $200 million, blaming the Wii U for a disappointing quarter.

While I had previously believed Nintendo's strong slate of games would help it deliver a solid quarter when it next reports earnings, it's hard to like Nintendo when Sony and Microsoft are absolutely dominating the living room.

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The article Sony and Microsoft's Sales Data Shows Just How Badly Nintendo's Wii U Has Failed originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Paul Morphy

It is great news, finally Nintendo will be truly forced (if pride comes in the way they lose more) to release classics for mobile platforms, idiots, if they had done so earlier they wouldn't have lost millions, also de wii u name re-brand and the hardware was trash at best, which says key important people at Nintendo are not around anymore. You want proof that famous franchises wont ever make up for the loses? look no further, welcome to reality.

January 11 2014 at 6:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Simon Stevens

Fair article, fair points, premature to be saying it failed at this stage though, as it's still very much the early days, Though I don't think it's going to set the world aligjt like the Wii and Ds did, and not even like the 3DS is doing right now, I still believe it can be a very profitable console for them, they've always sold more first party games than any of their competitors and typically always sell the most software in any generation, maybe 3rd party isn't there and for the fans and owners that's a shame but as long as they sell their first party games and get 100% profit on them, i can see them somehow outperforming the ps4 and xbox 1, in the wallet if nothing else, as nobody really makes money on hardware sales, and even third party sales are very minimal at best after the initial fee to port it over, as a whole Nintendo are still the dominant force in gaming, stats and figures tell you that, I like Nintendo a lot, they have a very good business model (no micro/mega transactions, free online, safe non complex environment for kids), it's all straight forward, but with that being said, improvement is needed if there ever going to hope of the Wii U being a success, there's still time and it's still very much alive, so as of right now, it's far from a failed console, a 9 million unit console by March though?, no chance.

January 10 2014 at 6:19 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Brandon Taylor

Why not also mention that Nintendo stocks are worth more than Sony stocks? Or that the Wii U has more exclusives than the PS4 and Xbox One combined? The 3DS was struggling at first, and now look at how good it's doing, while the PS Vita is far behind, just wait. Even Sony president Shuhei Yoshida said that nobody should underestimate Nintendo, and that Nintendo is a sleeping giant, waiting to be awaken.

January 09 2014 at 12:53 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Tara Sorensen

Fortunately Wii U also has games.

January 09 2014 at 12:28 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply