As we're now into July — and melting in a heat wave to suit the time of year — sales data has emerged for UK video game sales in the first six months of the year. Gamasutra has broken down the key data as published in MCV magazine, and from Nintendo's perspective it's a tale of two platforms on very different trajectories.
The estimates given revolve around software, which explains why the 3DS has enjoyed a strong six months courtesy of its exceptional lineup. Perhaps as a sign that Nintendo's strength in the UK isn't quite what the company would hope — a point enforced by Satoru Iwata in two consecutive annual financial results briefings — the 3DS has just started to outstrip the software sales of DS. Up until April physical retail sales of games for the two portables were almost equal, but in the last two months (particularly June) the 3DS has leapt ahead and secured its spot as the system with the fourth best software sales in the UK, behind PC, PS3 and Xbox 360; it's worth pointing out that eShop sales aren't included.
For the Wii U the figures are, somewhat predictably, poor. With issues of a relatively thin release schedule and seemingly poor sales even of games that were released, the system has accumulated just 179,000 physical retail UK software sales in the first six months of the year; that puts it behind the Vita, and for comparison the 3DS shifted 799,000 units. Important and legitimate points can be made about the Wii U's small install base at this point, with game sales peaking at around 45,000 units in March, when releases such as Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and LEGO City Undercover hit the market; since then the monthly figures haven't gone beyond 27,000 units, and even if you add 10% to sales for assumed eShop purchases, it would still "barely match retail software sales for the moribund PlayStation Vita".
What's been clear since Spring is that Nintendo, essentially, backed off the Wii U and has been focused on a major shift in momentum in the second half of the year — the company said as much back in April, again, to investors when publishing its annual financial results. There's an impressive lineup coming to try and reverse that poor performance and grab the public's imagination ahead of the Holiday season. These figures aren't necessarily a surprise, but at the very least highlight just how poor sales momentum has been for the Wii U in the UK, with these trends generally considered to be similar in the U.S. and other countries. That the system has had a bad 2013 to date is impossible to deny.
But then, we knew that, but the figures at least highlight the scale of the challenge Nintendo will face in bringing the Wii U to the forefront of the public's minds, not to mention persuading retailers to give the platform meaningful shelf space to help that turnaround happen. Nintendo has achieved these kinds of turnarounds before, of course, as the worldwide sales of the 3DS demonstrate — even if the UK market is still a bit of a weak point, overall.
You can see the graphs produced by Gamasutra below. Let us know what you think of these results, and what you expect the equivalent figures for the second half of 2013 to tell us.