News Article

Latest U.S. Sales Show Decline in Video Game Market, Slow Wii U Momentum

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Wii U sales below 100,000

U.S. sales tracker NPD has issued its results for January, which reflect more challenging times for the video game industry in comparison to previous years. In raw figures video game sales increased 9% over January 2012, but this year's results cover five weeks rather than four; Gamasutra has estimated that in equivalent terms — for a four week period — overall retail sales dropped an estimated 13%.

So how does this affect Nintendo's latest system? NPD no longer provides specific hardware sales, but a source described the console's sales as "well under" 100,000 units, with Gamasutra estimating figures of between 45,000 and 59,000 units — those numbers are, naturally, unconfirmed. Games available on both Wii and Wii U also sold in greater numbers on the older system.

It's important to note with these figures, particularly the software comparison, that Wii U's install base is significantly smaller than the long-established Wii. The hardware figure being under 100,000 is disappointing, with Nintendo up against cheaper and established alternatives and arguably suffering from a typically quiet January software schedule. More expensive, new systems can take time to build momentum — comparisons to early Wii sales are, at this stage, clearly moot — and Nintendo is likely to be more interested in sales momentum once major planned releases in the Spring and Summer hit stores.

In terms of the bigger picture for video game sales in the U.S., the following summary from Gamasutra shows most areas struggling, with the exception of accessories that include paid-content cards and products such as Skylanders figurines; adjustments are made to reflect the additional week in the 2013 results.

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

What do you think of these results, and do those of you in the U.S. have a sense that the video game retail scene is dipping?


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User Comments (62)



OverturePT said:

Nintendo made a huge mistake with this disappointing line up of launch games and I hope things can get back on track when the games start popping out, but it may be too late for a lot of people. You can't make mistakes like this when launching a new hardware, pretty sure they are all very disappointed and even asking themselves how they thought this would be a good launch. No Pikmin and W101 date is unbelievable as well, they need to sort their heads. The head start for the Wii U is everything but that, if at all it's just making the console look bad and a lot more people won't give a crap about it when the competitors arrive. Put the bad marketing on top of that and yea... Nintendo messed up, let's just hope things get better.



MadJay1664 said:

I think it's all down to how much things cost now days. How much developing costs. How much shipping costs. How much games and consoles cost in store. People struggle to afford it now and us consumers are the ones who've gotta find the money to keep things going. People expect more than they can afford.



Peach64 said:

People need to stop defending the sales by saying 'of course it won't match the Wii'. The reported 55k sales is the lower than the Wii, PS3, 360, GameCube, PS2 and Xbox have ever done. It's Virtual Boy numbers.

Wii U is not doomed, it will be fine when the big games come, but people need to accept the sales for it now are awful and that's why you get decisions like the Rayman one, not because MS paid then to port it.



OverturePT said:

But it's because of decisions like Rayman that the console isn't selling better either, it's not that "simple".



Peach64 said:

But that's not Ubisoft's job. It would be a crazy business decision to make a loss on a project to help out another company.



Mk_II said:

@OverturePT it takes time to create a new Zelda or 3D Mario. Nintendo did not have that time as Wii sales were slipping fast.



Reala said:

as much as I like origins I doubt having legends being released when they said it would, would have sold any more wii u consoles honestly.



XCWarrior said:

The Video game market is no longer part of a fad. It's back to the way it was in maybe 2006, just something for the core. The casual market is gone the way of the tablet/phone. This doesn't mean the end, this just means that video game companies are going to have remember how to cut back on their budgets. Spend less time on the graphics, more time on the gameplay.

We should see less shovelware in the next generation, which is a good thing. But companies are going to complain rather than simply adjust to the new setting.

They need to make games so if it sells 100k, they make a profit. Like XSeed and Adtlus do. It can be done, and they produce great games. The bigger companies need to follow suit if they want to stick around.



OverturePT said:

@Mk_II I'm not saying it doesn't, but launching a console without a big ass title doesn't make sense, and like I said we don't even have Pikmin yet (which doesn't really sell much consoles, let's face it). If they couldn't keep up with a interesting line up of games releasing until the end of the year, maybe they shouldn't have released the console now. From November until now there's nothing coming out, the next game worth mentioning is Lego City in late March and that isn't good. It needed to be a better launch.



New_3DaSh_XL said:

Let me make a list of games that will make the 3DS and Wii U sell. Some more than others.

Rayman Legends
Animal Crossing New Leaf
The 3D Mario to be unveiled at E3
The MarioKart to be unveiled at E3
Super Smash Bros. 4 (and that'll be on 3DS AND Wii U)
Wind Waker HD
Zelda U
Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon
Mario and Luigi: Dream Team
LEGO City Undercover
LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins
Pikmin 3
The Wonderful 101
Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei (did I spell that right?)
Professor Layton Vs Ace Attorney
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies

AND a ton more I'm forgetting. AND E3 hasn't even come yet. STOP being so doom and gloom, it's REALLY annoying.



6ch6ris6 said:

next year we will laugh about all the people now saying "wiiU is doomed"

WiiU will be fine after e3 and the holidays 2013



Undead_terror said:

As of right now im not getting a wii u because I just don't have that kind of spending money, no games out yet that interest me, im more of a hand held guy then a console guy.



OverturePT said:

I don't think it's about saying that it is doomed, it's about "it could have been doing much, much better". The opportunity to sell more consoles isn't being taken with the current titles we have. Obviously the console will eventually sell a lot more when other titles come, but it is also true that it will sell less when it has competitors out on the market. Not to forget the amazing titles coming to PC/Xbox/PS3 still this year, all of this makes the Wii U look bad for now.

It will get better... sure, it will, but wouldn't it BE better if this wasn't actually happening?



New_3DaSh_XL said:

Also, I find it annoying how people are complaining about the Wii U launch titles. Little Inferno, NSMBU, Nintendo Land, ZombiU, etc. That was a pretty good launch line-up. No, it can't be perfect. But it's pretty dang good. Also, if you're complaining, you obviously don't remember the 3DS's launch.

Also, about games like Pikmin 3 not being at launch, to quote Miyamoto...
"A delayed game is eventually good. A bad game is forever bad."
Would you prefer a good game or a bad one? Personally, if he makes it better than it could've been at launch, then I'm all for waiting.



WaveGhoul said:

I honestly don't see what's to complain about....Other than RE: Revelations complete lack of pointer controls. Really, there are a ton of brilliant looking games coming out on both the Wii U and 3DS this year + the big suprises that await us at e3.

I'm not paying attention to this doom and gloom 'less than stellar' sales crap anymore. It's not like the Wii U's going to drop dead mid way through this generation the same way the sega dreamcst did.



Tasuki said:

Honestly its also due to the economy. With so many people out of jobs video games aren't a priority. I am sure that movie ticket sales have been down recently does that mean the movie business is doomed?



OverturePT said:

It's not just about the games that launch with the console, you gotta give it momentum. What games came out since then? In my opinion not one worth mentioning, much less worth buying a console for, and that's the problem, you can't just launch a console and then leave it on a desert for 4 months.

I don't care really, since I'm mainly a Nintendo fan, I enjoy their games and I know they will eventually come, I'm just saying this because Nintendo doesn't want just to appeal to their long time fans, and this is not the way to do it.

As for the 3DS launch, there's a reason I still don't own one... I will buy this year, but it would be better for Nintendo if I had bought before the price drop, right? And like me, many others.



New_3DaSh_XL said:

@OverturePT All the developer put everything that they could into the launch. This isn't rocket science. The 3DS started off badly too! Now it's sold like 20 million+ units!



OverturePT said:

What isn't rocket science is seeing why the sales are so bad. Really, I don't get it, we are "all" Nintendo fans here, but can't we see when they mess up? Anyway, I guess I made my point, we all have different opinions. Let's just wait for the games we want to play, those will be happier days.



McGruber said:

They need a blockbuster game and we haven't seen any yet. With games like Smash Bros. and Zelda so far off it looks like the WiiU could be out a year or more before it gets it's first big game.



WaveGhoul said:

Pikmin 3. Too bad most fail to relase how amazing this franchise is. I'm more interested in it at the moment rather then another 3D mario or Zelda game.



Hardy83 said:

Regardless of how much it costs to make, I do think the current retail MSRP is too high for most people. It needs a price drop.

Software is fine, but with a lot of people knowing a new xbox and playstation on the horizen, a lot of people are probably holding on to their money.

In the long run, whatever they do, they'll make money. They always do. lol



FJOJR said:

Video game sales decline? So people are actually getting tired of sports games and shooter games with just a new coat of paint.



SkywardLink98 said:

@Mk_II Still no excuse. No one's going to buy a console saying "it takes time to create a new Zelda or 3D Mario." They'll either buy it then, at a lower price or not at all.



New_3DaSh_XL said:

You do realize that at $300 and $350, Nintendo is selling Wii U at a loss? They can't afford to have a price drop.



Haxonberik said:

Nintendo did not provide enough content for the Wii U once almost all their non-launch launch window games were moved to either March or out of the window. The Wii U is rapidly losing momentum, and they cant afford to have it sleeping all the time since the release of Pikmin 3 to fall. Of course it can find its way again later on but then it will already have to compete with the PS4 and the New Xbox.

Then again Im not spelling doom for the Wii U as it still has a strong place with Nintendo fans and seems to be attracting a lot of indie devs (its just that no ine will buy a console for indie games). If it can secure enough third party support until before the new consoles, it can still avoid the Wii situation, but that just seems harder and harder now.



Reala said:

no one will buy a console for indie games? ouya will be hoping your wrong on that one.



GreenDream said:

Jeez, I guess the people who think the Wii U is struggling, considering the circumstances, don't remember (or aren't able to remember) the Sega Saturn... You wanna talk about consecutive blunder after blunder inside an expanding market...

We need to remember that there's LITERALLY thousands of game choices now. The age of monopolies in this industry is over. If anything, this just shows that the Sony and Microsoft executives are the ones who should REALLY be worried about their gaming division's future. We're not going to see PS2 blowout numbers anymore.

I would also argue that existing markets have hit a point of saturation. Other places around the globe, outside of the typical heavily industrialized triumvirate of USA, Europe, and Japan need to be given far greater consideration in the future.



Rapadash6 said:

I don't think these sales are good at all, and Nintendo is in a really dangerous position right now. Of course the company as a whole has the elbow room (in the form of rediculously large cash reserves) to bounce back, but it's still very important that they rebuild the Wii U into a more respectable endeavor right now.

To do this, I think they have to rebrand the system in consumers minds. A lower price point should help, and is innevitable if things continue as they are, but Nintendo also needs to bring everything they have in 2013. No more can they afford to hold key titles back from audiences at huge events like E3, nor can they afford to stingily roll out content in the slow plodding matter they have in the past. They have to be more aggressive, and take more risks with thier IP, and NOT at the sacrifise of quality. Nintendo, despite their current challenges, is a lucrative company with the resources to make this happen. Perhaps these misteps will force the company to evolve in ways they've, up until now, refused to, and in the end that's really best for everyone.

I'd also like to say that these numbers aren't just bad for Nintendo, but the entire industry as a whole. So many assume Sony and Microsoft will fair better with their systems, but with the economy the way it is, the value offered by iOS gaming, and the general disconnect between what "gamers" want compared to the desires of the general consumer, each hardware manufacture has huge challenges ahead of them. It really isn't about Nintendo vs. Sony vs. Microsoft anymore, but more Video Games vs. a rapidly changing market.



GreenDream said:

@Haxonberik There are plenty of people around the globe who would be willing to spend $100 on a PC-type console which plays indie games and new PC games. Especially in low income markets, of whom would have great trouble affording $1000+ PCs. Indie games are among the bread and butter of PC titles and online services, such as Steam and Good Old Games.



rjejr said:

@GreenDream - I think they DO remember the Saturn. And the Dreamcast. And they know that Sega is now a 3rd party software only company. That's exactly the point. If Nintendo doesn't sell enough Wii U by either lowering the price or putting out better games than they'll go software only.

And anybody blaming Ubisoft and Rayman Legends - these are January sales numbers, and imaginary at that, Ubi only pulled the plug a few days ago. And January numbers are always bad, it's January.

As much as I'ld like to see a sale so I could buy 1, (I'ld rather see a Wii U Pikmin 3 bundle though) Nintendo should hold onto the price for now and see what Sony and MS have to offer.

Unless stores stop taking shipments and Nintendo has to halt production b/c they have nowhere to put the things - these are the real hard news articles I'm keeping an eye out for - then everything is fine.



Jellitoe said:

I'd expect these numbers to be higher in April when alot of people are getting their income tax returns and Monster Hunter is out.



BestBuck15 said:

Wii U is not doomed but it is not in a good place. I reckon it'll be a lot cheaper in six months than it is today though. But I think Nintendo had to rush the release because they had to hit the market before Sony and Microsoft. The big tell will be, when the Wii U does get a price cut, will that lift sales because if it doesn't then Wii U will be dead in the water. That's what I think sorry.



Farmboy74 said:

Maybe we heading for some sort of video gaming correction i.e. not one console is going to sell in huge numbers, the majority of casuals I bet have moved onto tablets and mobile phones. Also it's not the economy for people buying video games in huge numbers. Personaly I'm looking to buy one full priced game every other month and eshop games possibly monthly as they tend to be cheaper as I just ain't got the cash for one full price game every month. We will really see what type of market we're operating in when the new PS360 launches, as if these are going to more expensive than the Wii U, again I can't see eithier of them selling huge numbers to begin with. Games developers are going to have to be more creative and not rely on yearly franchises like FIFA, Madden & COD for example. The games are coming but it's going to take time, Nintendo should have had some more first party games ready at launch and not rely on third parties ala 3DS as the two launches look remarkably similar.



Dreamcaster-X said:

These numbers are not encouraging at all. No other system has sold so low numbers since the Saturn for a given month. I have faith Nintendo can turn it around later this year with their 1st party titles but 3rd party games could be rough going it's starting to look like. What's weird is everyone holds it up against the Wii which was just a lucky phenomenon, had that not been such a huge hit the views of the Wii U would be more flattering but that's not how the media like to spin things.
I also suspect that Sony's early announcement of the PS4 is to try & do to Wii U what they did to the Dreamcast back in the day and scare everyone into waiting for their more powerful system. It could actually work again.



bluecat said:

Wii U will be fine. It's only been a couple months. I think a console has to be out for at least a year before declaring it a failure or not... :/

@Jellitoe I'm getting my Wii U this Sunday with my tax return! ZombiU bundle here I come! I was actually waiting for my tax return to get a Wii U, that was the plan.



ritsuka666 said:

Uh, maybe the recession is finally catching up to the video game industry. $60 for a new game could a week’s worth of groceries for some people.



eviljustin321 said:

sales are slow becouse nintendo is failing to advertise the system, they really need to bring more tv ads.



potomas said:

A lot of people on about monster hunter do u really think this is a system seller keep dreaming.All my mates and work colleagues couldn't care less for Wii u,
All they talk about is new Xbox and ps4.



Void said:

It doesn't really have many games coming out now, or untill march, it's not too surprising that sales are low currently.



TheHeroOfLegend said:

Its only been out for a couple months and theres so much criticism! I hate these doom, gloom, and bad sales article!



drunkenmaster76 said:

Ive still not seen it advertised in the UK and most people here still don't know what wii u is and most still think its a tablet device for your wii.



scrubbyscum999 said:

The launch sales are sub par but the announced fames show there is light at the end of the tunnel. A tunnel that wasn't that long to begin with.



Neram said:

The Wii U is not doomed, Nintendo will do fine, everyone just enjoy their new Wii U systems. It's only going to get better from this point on, with Spring and Summer game releases and system updates, everything with be just peachy. It's better to have fun playing games than worrying about sales figures, the new Nintendo console is here to stay, and you know it.



SpaceApe said:

There is nothing wrong with the video game market. There is everything wrong with when the Wii U launched. Bad timing on Nintendo's part and it is showing via sales.



GreenDream said:

@Dreamcaster-X The PS2 came at a "perfect storm" timing. Sony was healthy, the market was expanding rapidly, and hundreds of studios couldn't wait to start working with Sony's dev kits.

The PS4 won't have that massive advantage. Sony's going to be the ones fighting for their lives this time, especially if the same thing happens to the PS4 as has happened to the Vita. (Cannibalism)

The Wii U won't need to worry about 32X and Game Gear woes. Nintendo was in more trouble during the Gamecube era.



LinktotheFuture said:

I think a Wii Sports U would really help. Combine all the games from Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, plus more games, HD graphics, and with the ability to play online would be awesome.



Zombie_Barioth said:

I think the market is just too saturated with technology these days for anyone to have much of an advantage over the competition. There are just so many alternatives to consoles especially if your a casual gamer. Most of the casual market already has a console to keep them occupied and probably won't see the point in upgrading, with more than enough games to satisfy them. Only the Xbox fan will have have much if any incentive since MS will likely drop the 360 like they did with the first one.

Never mind how tight money is these days, $400-$500 is a lot of money to drop on entertainment and those $60 games can really add up. Many people will think of better uses for that kind of cash, heck thats a good chunk of your rent or a month or two of groceries.



Gamer83 said:

It took a while but the poop economy is finally having an effect on video games as well. It doesn't help when the majority of stuff releasing is been there, done that sequels. Will be interesting to see how PS4 and the next Xbox perform.



KnightRider666 said:

I haven't bought one yet because I haven't had all the money together at once to spend to make such a purchase. I originally had the deluxe set pre-ordered, but 2 weeks before it came out; I had lost my job and had to cancel it to get the deposit back. Honestly, at the time I was bummed out, but looking back now I'm not too broken up about it. The only games I am interested in are New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land. Nothing else really caught my interest, and I'm really not too happy about Nintendo charging us to port our online download games to the new console. I can't say this enough, they need to follow suit to how Sony allows you to tie all your purchases to a user account, not a system. I may wait for a price cut, or better games to be released before investing $400.



AmishThunder said:

@XCWarrior this is one of the most intelligent posts on the future of the gaming marketplace that I've read in a long time. Thank you for this!



Slapshot said:

This news just shows the the 12% for the overall year of 2012 is still continuing into 2013. It's not surprising in the least and with the excitement now building for the PS4 and Xbox 720, Wii U sales will most likely continue to trickle along until full details on those two consoles emerge.



OdnetninAges said:


"Also, I find it annoying how people are complaining about the Wii U launch titles. Little Inferno, NSMBU, Nintendo Land, ZombiU, etc. That was a pretty good launch line-up. No, it can't be perfect. But it's pretty dang good. Also, if you're complaining, you obviously don't remember the 3DS's launch.Also, about games like Pikmin 3 not being at launch, to quote Miyamoto..."A delayed game is eventually good. A bad game is forever bad." Would you prefer a good game or a bad one? Personally, if he makes it better than it could've been at launch, then I'm all for waiting."

You got that spot on. I agree with you completely.



Psylumin said:

I don't think this is necessarily a problem with Nintendo.
I think its just the industry going back to the days where gaming wasn't as mainstream as it is today, but that's just what I see around me since many of my friends, once passionate gamers, have stopped caring about the hobby for the most part or just stick to older games and systems to save money.

Personally, I think the Wii U and 3DS have brought me more joy than the last 4 years of gaming, but that is just my own taste. I am very sad to see Nintendo losing money when they are developing and publishing quality products like the games that I am currently enjoying so much. It seems I am in the minority though, as most people seem very disappointed with everything (not just Nintendo).



Minny said:

@Psylumin I agree with this being a larger problem than simply Nintendo (I too enjoy both the consoles mentioned). The issue is really two-fold. One, this archaic and insane desire for video game publishers to make playable demos for E3 in June (eating away resources in that they have to show polished game play, and not let the process unfold naturally) then releasing 80% of games in Sept-Dec for Holiday Shopping. Then when consumers choose which games to buy and which ones to pass on until there is a sale, they wonder why games sell poorly.

2) With the potential of another 2 new consoles this year, game publishers (read 3rd party) are not going to invest into 3 consoles with a limited user base over the older stuff that can reach hundreds of millions world-wide. It simply comes down to money, and game publishers will go where they can make the most money, which is usually where they can have the largest group of consumers.



iPlayNintendo said:

The problem for me is a lot of the good games I am interested in are never even localized and don't make it to the states. It's a vicious cycle. People don't buy the Wii U in the states, so they don't localize games to the U.S., so people don't buy the Wii U, and so on. There's more to it like everyone is saying... but this particular situation aggravates me

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