Oh man, like if Nintendo or the Wii U needed any more wood on that fire that’s been burning for months. Just a couple of days ago EA announced that they have absolutely zero games in development for Wii U. And just as you would’ve expected everyone came out spreading fear and calling the Wii U the Dreamcast, among other things. To be honest, I’m a Nintendo fan but I’m not blind. This is obviously not good news at all. There is no way we can spin this in a good way, but is it game over? Should Nintendo just throw the towel and call it a day? Or do the numbers suggest something completely different? Let’s look at this situation with a business and analytical approach.
Right now it seems like this is a battle between David against Goliath and Goliath is obviously winning. But we all know how that story ends. I think the question we need to ask ourselves is the following. Can Nintendo survive without EA or other third-parties? Well, to answer this question we need to go back in history. Let’s start with the Gamecube.
The Gamecube came in last place selling around 22 million units two generations ago. The Xbox in second place sold around 24 million units. There were 649 games released for the Gamecube which sold a total amount of about 208 million. This is an avg of 320,000 units sold per game. Now, let’s look at the 10 best-selling software for the GC.
Gamecube’s Top 10 Software Sales
1. Super Smash Bros. Melee 7.0+ Million
2. Mario Kart Double Dash 7.0 Million
3. Super Mario Sunshine 5.9 Million
4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker 4.6 Million
5. Luigi’s Mansion 2.64 Million
(Are you picking up a trend here?)
6. Animal Crossing 2.32 Million
7. Mario Party 9 2.0 Million
8. Metroid Prime 2 Million
9. Pokemon Colosseum 1.81 Million
10. Sonic Adventure 2 1.73 Million
I hope that you picked up the trend, if not here it is. The top 9 sellers were all Nintendo titles and only 4 out of the top 16 were third-party titles either by Capcom or Sega. But let’s go a bit deeper than that. Out of the top 25 titles sold in the GC era, 19 were published by Nintendo. Not only that, but these 19 titles make a grand total of around 48 million units. That constitutes to almost a fourth of all software sales for the GC. Not only that, but in close examination, in average, every Gamecube owner had at least 2 of these 19 Nintendo titles. But, I know what you are going to say, “Well, wasn’t the Gamecube a failure?” Perhaps, so let’s do something else. Let’s look at the Wii numbers.
The Wii was a phenomena. Every one wanted or needed a Wii. The motion control idea was something completely revolutionary in 2006 and you had to experience it by yourself to believe it. I still remember the articles talking about nursing homes hosting Wii bowling tournament, even my own college campus had signs for Wii Tennis and Bowling tournaments. Due to all this hype around the new system, the Wii finished in first place among consoles last generation. It can be even called the most successful Nintendo system in its history. But, let’s get down to numbers. The Wii has sold approx. 100 Million units. That is more than 4 times what the Gamecube sold. There were more than 1,200 games released, which add up to more than 860 million Wii games sold worldwide. I will just name the top 10 for time’s sake even though there was around 100 titles that sold more than a million units.
Wii’s Top 10 Software Sales
1. Wii Sports 81.64 Million
2. Mario Kart Wii 34.01 Million
3. Wii Sports Resort 31.64 Million
4. Wii Play 28.02 Million
5. New Super Mario Bros. Wii 27.61 Million
6. Wii Fit 22.67 Million
7. Wii Fit Plus 20.48 Million
8. Super Smash Bros. Brawl 10.79 Million
9. Super Mario Galaxy 10.68 Million
10. Wii Party 7.94 Million
I think the trend was a bit easier to pick up with this list. All 10 top-selling Wii titles were Nintendo games. But wait, there’s more. Out of the top 25 titles only 2 are not Nintendo games which are Just Dance, and Just Dance 2. There is a third title that for argument’s sake I am considering it Nintendo’s which is Mario and Sonic at the London Olympic Games. Number 26 is Sonic and the Secret Rings with 2 million. So let’s go down to more numbers. All those titles sales (first party titles in the top 25) add up to around 338 million units, which ends up being 39% of total software sales just in those 23 Nintendo games. But, like I said, there were around 100 Wii games that broke the million mark and some of them were third-party games. So, what do we do with these numbers? Let’s continue.
Based on our simple mathematical analysis we can determine some quick facts:
- Wii sold 4.5 times more consoles than the Gamecube.
- Wii’s top 25 first party titles sold 7 times more than Gamecube’s.
- In fact, Wii’s top 25 first party titles sold 1.6 times more than the total amount of games the Gamecube sold in its lifetime!
Perhaps you are still wondering where I’m going with this. So, here is my conclusion. The Wii had twice as many titles as the Gamecube did and Third Party developers and publishers came aboard after it’s fantastic launch. Some of these third parties ended up having million sellers like Red Steel, Just Dance, EA Active, Resident Evil, Sonic among others. Regardless of how us gamers want to paint it, the Wii had a lot more third-party support than the Gamecube had. However, if you look at the top 25 titles sold for both the Wii and Gamecube you will find the underlining truth of this issue. Nintendo developed or/and published 23 out of the 25 Wii’s best sellers, while the Gamecube had only 19. Not only that, but those 23 Wii titles almost constitutes to 40 percent of all software sold, while the Gamecube’s only made up 25%. The point is that regardless of greater third-party support Nintendo not only kept the ratio of first party titles sold in relation to the total amount of software sales, but they actually almost doubled it!
My point is that Nintendo’s consoles sell because of Nintendo and no one else. When Nintendo’s consoles become a success third parties start bringing content. In other words, third-parties can benefit from a successful Nintendo console, yet they can’t make a Nintendo console successful. Therefore, it’s hard for third-parties to benefit from a Nintendo console if it’s not selling, hence the Wii U situation. The problem with the Wii U is not the hardware or the controller, these are amazing. The problem with the Wii U is that Nintendo hasn’t released their major titles and hasn’t done a good job at marketing the system. I’m not just talking about Mario, Zelda, Smash, Kart and Metroid. I’m also talking about Wii Sports and Wii Fit, these are titles that when they come out the mainstream public will notice. With the Wii, a lot of people said that Nintendo needed to target the hardcore gamer. Now with the Wii U, people are saying that Nintendo needs EA and GTA V to survive. I say, Nintendo needs to release games for the hardcore and for the casual, in addition to advertising the console to the mainstream public. Once that happens, the Wii U will start selling again and third parties will be able to benefit from that. In other words, only Nintendo can “save” themselves.
” Is Nintendo doomed? Should Nintendo go third-party? EA drops support, the Wii U will be the new Dreamcast!” I’m sorry, but the numbers say otherwise. Nintendo’s console sales are not dependent on any third-party developer or publisher but on themselves. I honestly believe that the Wii U will be the best-selling console out of the main three this generation. It won’t succeed like the Wii did, but it will succeed. My recommendation to Nintendo fans? Be patient, and let’s see how all this plays out. These are hard but exciting times. E3 is just around the corner and we will soon know what Nintendo has been hiding, I don’t think it will disappoint.
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