News Article

Western Markets Vital For Nintendo Hardware Sales as Japan Gains Ground

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

More 3DS units sold in Japan than North America

With Nintendo no doubt plotting its route to profitability in the coming financial year, one area of consideration is likely to be boosting sales outside of Japan. Worldwide results are important, of course, but the Wii U and 3DS are showing patterns of dropping sales in the West as compared to Nintendo's homeland — this is particularly relevant for the 3DS, as Japan is its highest selling 'region', one country outselling The Americas and Europe / PAL on an individual basis.

Taken from the latest financial updates, below are figures from the last three generations of systems, showing the gradual shift in momentum as Japan becomes increasingly vital to Nintendo's business.

Game Boy Advance Hardware Sales

Japan — 16.96 million units (20.8%)
The Americas — 41.64 million units (51.1%)
Other (Europe / PAL) — 22.91 million units (28.1%)
Overall — 81.51 million units

DS Hardware Sales

Japan — 32.99 million units (21.4%)
The Americas — 59.93 million units (38.9%)
Other (Europe / PAL) — 61.07 million units (39.7%)
Overall — 153.99 million units

3DS Hardware Sales

Japan — 15.89 million units (36.7%)
The Americas — 14.58 million units (33.6%)
Other (Europe / PAL) — 12.85 million units (29.7%)
Overall — 43.33 million units

GameCube Hardware Sales

Japan — 4.04 million units (18.6%)
The Americas — 12.94 million units (59.5%)
Other (Europe / PAL) — 4.77 million units (21.9%)
Overall — 21.74 million units

Wii Hardware Sales

Japan — 12.75 million units (12.6%)
The Americas — 48.46 million units (48%)
Other (Europe / PAL) — 39.85 million units (39.4%)
Overall — 101.06 million units

Wii U Hardware Sales

Japan — 1.81 million units (29.3%)
The Americas — 2.81 million units (45.5%)
Other (Europe / PAL) — 1.56 million units (25.2%)
Overall — 6.17 million units

While North America was dominant in the Game Boy Advance era, the phenomenal success of the DS brought Europe slightly beyond North America, with Japanese sales third for both of those generations. With the 3DS, however, there's been a significant swing so far to establish Japan as the leading market, a sign that despite the handheld's success it's perhaps losing more traction to smart devices — for example — in the West. The home console market has consistently had The Americas as nearly half the share over the past three generations, though in the case of the Wii U Europe and 'other' regions have fallen back from Wii highs and behind Japan. It's still early days for the latest system, but the last time Nintendo's home console sales were higher in its homeland than in Europe / PAL regions was with the Famicom / NES and Super Famicom / Super NES.

Europe and PAL regions are a concern with both 3DS and Wii U, while the percentage of portable sales in The Americas has seen a drastic decline. If Nintendo is to boost its sales and return to expected levels, a greater impact in the West must surely be a priority.


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User Comments (48)



Socar said:

@Ony Putting games what consumers want isn't going to boost the sales for the system. The only thing Nintendo can do now is make more games for both systems.



Jazzer94 said:

Better 3rd party support and more western games those really are two of their biggest problems they fail to fix every generation.



PJR0cks said:

Uh, the numbers speak for them self, Nintendo is becoming irrelevant in the western culture, 90's style marketing is no longer a viable options these days, and Nintendo doesn't want to adopt to the changes.



AyeHaley said:

Its worrying it took Nintendo such a long time to realize they needed to change strategy. Glad they're changing I love their recent Nintendo Directs a lot. I just hope they haven't announced anything due to E3 being around the corner and not them having hardly anything to show. I wonder if Pachter is correct this time, saying Nintendo will show the most new games of all 3 this E3..




Takerkaneanite6 said:

If Anything, The People Here In The U.K Need To Broaden Their Game Choices, To Much Call Of Duty And Rehashed Fifa, I've Played Fifa 11 That Came With My PSP And Fifa 13 Demo On Wii U And They Both Feel The Exact Same. But The Main Problem I've Found Is A Lack Of Advertising In The U.K, I've Seen A Total Of 3 Wii U Adverts Since Launch, One Advertising The Wii U, One For New Super Mario Bros U And One For Mario 3D World, They Need To Advertising The Living Daylights Out Of Mario Kart 8 To Build Up Hype For The Game And To Convince People To Buy A Wii U, I've Owned A Wii U Since Launch And Am Excited For Mario Kart 8, So I Don't Need Convincing



BigH88 said:

No 3rd party support is killing the Wii U. It looks like its gonna stay that way as well. Sad.



MadAdam81 said:

@Ony That wouldn't sell anywhere near as much as Wii Sports U or Mario v Sonic v Pokemon Kart Racing. Most Metroid and F-Zero fans already have a Wii U, and most FPS fans probably wouldn't care for it, as its not CoD or Halo.



Ninhau said:

the problem is not the console missing 1 game, like Metroid. You honestly believe all it takes is Metroid?



rjejr said:

For the 3DS Nintnedo really needs to work on price drops. I know the 3DS had that huge 25% drop months after launch, but that was 3 years ago and it hasn't changed since. The 3DS XL has been $199 since launch 2 years ago. You just can't keep hardware at the same price points for that period of time. It needs to be yearly, preferably in winter early spring after the holdiay sales. It spurs interest and gets people buying when they normally aren't.

Everybody talks about smart device software being free o r99c, but peopel ar ealso very used ot yearly updates on the hardware as well. Eveyr year a new iPAd o riPhone or MAazon Kindle fire, HD, HDX. I know Nintneod can' tproduce new hardware every year and for that reason they need to drop prices every year, even if it's only $20. 3DS started $249, which was realistic, then $179 that same year. It should have been $149 then next, then $129, Xl $179. Components get cheaper every year, the hardware should as well. Common knowledge. Just so the retailers can advertise the price drop. Maybe throw in a sale discount or GC on top of that. But it has to be Every Year. No way no how XL should still be $199, that's absurd. At least 2DS seems to b e$99 now, down from $129 a few months ago at launch,

The same obviously goes for Wii U but it did have a price cut last year and probably will this year, so that's not it's problem.



Peach64 said:

I'd say Japan is an equally big concern. 3DS sales figures have now slipped under half what they were last year. I don't think Nintendo has done a lot wrong with the 3DS, and we might just have to accept that mobile has taken away a big chunk of the market.

I don't think Nintendo will do it as they're too concerned about squeezing every penny out of us, but they could make a lot of money from a netflix type model for Virtual Console. None of this drip feeding. We all know they are just ROMs and they can dump all their own titles onto it. Make it playable across 3DS and Wii U, charge $10 a month and most people would sign up without a second thought. It's a model being adopted across various media. WWE Network, Marvel Unlimited etc.



XCWarrior said:

Great article. Loved all the stats. Nintendo though isn't going to market to NA anymore. At least it sure doesn't feel that way. Their reluctance to actually do commercials is mind boggling. And doing commercials solely for Youtube doesn't count. They need to be on TV.

But eh, I'm enjoying both systems, so that's all that matters.



BertoFlyingFox said:

"If Nintendo is to boost its sales and return to expected levels, a greater impact in the West must surely be a priority."

Good luck with that. Personally, they've never been good at drumming up support in the West. They put themselves in a bubble during certain parts of their growth and splintered their regions in all kinds of different ways.

WiiU hardware sales show the Americas with 45.5%....I think that puts it at 126,450 units away from being responsible for half of its total hardware sales. So then wouldnt it be smart to "read the room" and check out what fans in the Americas want most on their WiiU's? If they did do that and all they got from some random focus group was "GBA games on WiiU" then they need to pick their focus groups better. The Club Nintendo questionnaires must fall on deaf ears.



rjejr said:

@Peach64 - "charge $10 a month and most people would sign up without a second thought"

I can't imagine them doing an "all-you-can-eat" Netflix model but I'm still waiting for a PS+ like Nintendo eSelects* where we can get 1 retail and 1 eShop or VC title per month. Or 1 indie and 1 VC.

*Because ePlayers Choice just sounds weird.



biglittlejake said:

What about a EShop with better games. Maybe release good GBA games. Release N64 on the Eshop, also put GC games on there. Why would the Wii U not sell if the Wii U had more Zelda, Mario, Kirby, and Yoshi games. I know people that would buy a Wii U if you could play Ocarina of Time or Majoras Mask. If Nintendo isn't selling well why not only release their best sellers to make it sell? I mean release more good classic games and it will sell better.



TingLz said:

@Peach64 Except $10 a month is a horrible idea when each user can just buy 2 games per month... There is very little profit here



unrandomsam said:

@Jazzer94 Funnily enough - The 4 games Retro were originally making when they were set up as a Western targeted Studio interested in me far more than Metroid Prime.



Lobster said:

One thing I think about the 3DS in the US vs. Japan is StreetPass. Over there it's so much more crowded, you're much more likely to get hits. Here, not so much unless you live in a big city or are on a campus or something. Ever since I graduated college the only time I get StreetPass hits is when I'm travelling on vacation.



Heiki said:

Just keep the Japanese games coming and forget about Western stuff... That's fine for me anyway. I don't care much about Western developers.



PuppyToucher said:

Nintendo needs to make a pokemon game similar to skylanders for the wii u, while they are at it they should also make a mushroom kindom skylanders type game. Both of those would sell really well and would make parents want to get their kids wii u's. I also think making an f-zero, starfox, and metroid game would help more than people think if those games included not only an amazing single player campaign, but also well thought out and feature packed multiplayer modes. The problem is nintendo doesnt embrace online features like they should and this is why they dont sell as well in the west anymore. Western countries are all about online multiplayer and nintendo needs to get with the times and start embracing that more with the wii u if they hope to keep up.



HaNks said:

nintendo is increasingly out of touch with the western market. it's going to take time and a lot of the right people to turn it around. buy/form/collaborate with more western studios, whatever is needed...just look at the barren wii U release schedule.



jjmesa16 said:

I don't understand why there aren't more western releases. I mean look at those numbers. The Americas sell almost twice as much hardware (except the 3DS) as Japan. If Nintendo and other developers wanted money faster they would release their games in the west first.



Dark-Link73 said:

If you look closely at all the console stats, you'll see that (statistically speaking) NA is just within a deviation of the normal percentage range of sales. This means that the NA market is on target of its proportional sales compared to other markets. The European market, on the other hands, has seen a decline of about 15% of proportional sales from the Wii generation.

If there's a market that needs to be targeted is the European market. However, the real focus here should be on targeting ALL markets in order to increase the RAW data. Not just the statistical data.



ungibbed said:

The one single thing Nintendo has failed from the start is mainstream advertising. Television commercials for big games and the hardware itself.

Mario Kart 8 has the potential to sell systems. I remember the ad campaign for Mario Kart Wii, you couldn't escape them! That was a damn good thing! What happened next? Sales!!!

Grow a pair Nintendo, be bold especially with Smash U coming up as well. Don't play out your hand on a bluff and hope consumers will bite.

Spend some of that cash that the Wii printed and get your rear in gear! Advertise the console and the variety of quality games already on it and Mario Kart 8 being an ACE, be bold and gamble a bit. Get it on the Telly post haste (NOW!) and hopefully you mayoce a few more units than ever expected.



Minotaurgamer said:

@Ony Metroid doesn't sell systems. Nor F-zero. Neither Star Fox, Pikmin, waverace and pilotwings. Heck, even 3D Mario isn't as strong as it appears.



PuppyToucher said:

@jjmesa16 Do you honestly believe pokemon rumble u even counts? It wasn't even a full game. Nintendo cannot expect to make tons of money off of something when they don't even put out a full game. If they actually put out a retail game on the same level as skylanders then it would be a hit, especially if they partnered with a big retailer and advertised it a lot.



TwilightOniAngel said:

@shigulicious Is not going to help the wiiu what are you talking about. Do you know how many years since a new metriod game out ages, if they do make a new metriod game that will help the wiiu sell.



jjmesa16 said:

@PuppyToucher Pokemon Rumble U was not a great game and definitely deserved more attention from GameFreak and Nintendo. I think what Nintendo needs is not a game like Skylanders, but a game more like Disney Infinity. Nintendo has so many great characters, nothing compared to the amount of Disney characters though, that they could use. Imagine creating your own castle or creating 2D/3D levels that you can play with your friends. The game should be a cross between Super Smash Bros. (characters) and Disney Infinity (ability to create worlds). That would be a cool game.

PS I'm not sure if Pokemon Rumble U counts as game like Skylanders in terms of quality, but it does have NFC toys like Skylanders.



jjmesa16 said:

@minotaurgamer Super Smash Bros. has the best chance to sell systems. If Super Smash Bros. fails to sell systems, I don't think anything can save the Wii U. Not even Zelda.



thanos316 said:

ninty needs a killer app right now for the wii u. they have zelda, metroid, mario, f zero, smash bros, pokemon. they are just taking too long with their games. take the reins off. lets get something hard hitting, something dark. the 90's aren't here anymore and your fan base has gotten older. they have millions of people out there that would love to see something new and fresh from ninty.



GreatPlayer said:

Nintendo should make Mario versus Sonic Racing. They will probably outsource the game to Sega to make it anyway, and so it will not waste Nintendo resources.

Nintendo should get out of their reliance on Mario in nearly every of their first-party games.



jjmesa16 said:

@PuppyToucher Well there you go. 😃



PuppyToucher said:

@jjmesa16 I will definitely be very interested in learning more about this at e3 but it sounds like they have the right idea. Hopefully we can start seeing some of these figurines this holiday season!



AshFoxX said:

@AyeHaley Doubt it, I can't even remember the last truly GREAT Nintendo appearance at E3. I really hope I'm wrong, but I've been let down for a long time by lackluster E3 performance.

Seems the last time E3's Nintendo booth really blew me away was pre GCN era.



LordGeovanni said:

Biggest problem that people say on the East Coast of the USA is that the 3DS doesnt have all that many games. They always site things like the fact that we STILL dont have Dragon Quest VII even though Japan has had it for a while. If more games come over, the 3DS would probably sell higher...

Until we start getting more than 50% of the games made, I doubt that the % in the NA region will rise...



scrubbyscum999 said:

@Heiki Pretty much what you said. Japanese games have an international market. Add some indies that take more after the JPN style and your good.



3Daniel said:

they simply need games. we havent heard of anything coming after mk8 for wii u other then vague 2014 placeholders. its hard to recommend the wii u when it essentially serves as a $300 emulator of overpeiced NES games. at least release a game that makes full use of the gamepad that doesnt feel like an overinflated tech demo. i love the wii u but its severely lacking in variety when it comes to software other then halfbaked ports and sporadic mario titles. unless nintendo is going to surprise us at e3 with near releases of some major titles i am expecting another drought in the summer and if that is the case it will be the nail in the coffin of my 20 year plus relationship with nintendo home consoles.

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