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?