[Update] Wii U U.S. Sales Tracking 38% Lower Than Wii

According to The NPD Group’s January 2013 retail sale report, total U.S. sales for Nintendo’s Wii U console are currently tracking 38% lower than Wii sales during the first three months after that console launched in November 2006.

NPD no longer includes specific hardware sales data in their monthly reports, choosing instead to leave it up to the hardware manufacturers to report the sales data. With such a drop in sales Nintendo has, understandably, not revealed January’s Wii U sales data. While we can’t arrive at an exact total figure for the Wii U, we can get a rough estimate of how the system sold based on past NPD data.

Gamasutra arrived at a January 2013 Wii U sales estimate between 45,000 units and 59,000 units for the month, while NeoGAF estimates 55,000 units. We have arrived at a slightly lower estimate of 39,424 units based on our record of past NPD sales data and the following calculations:

  • Total U.S. Wii sales between November 2006 and January 2007 = (476K + 604.2K + 435K) = 1.5152 million units
  • (1.5152 million) * (0.62) = 939.424K units [estimated three month total for the Wii U]
  • 939.424K – 425K [November 2012 Wii U sales] – 475K [December 2012 Wii U sales] = 39.424K units

[Update] CNET is reporting that Wii U sales for January 2013 were 57,000 units.

Regardless of which estimate is correct, it is clear that Nintendo’s Wii U dropped dramatically in sales during January and is well below the worst sales month for the Xbox 360, PS3, and possibly even the Wii (if you don’t consider its last several months).

How the Wii U stacks up against other systems in January is also unclear, due to a lack of information. The only solid data that we have is that the Xbox 360 sold 281K units (up 4.07%) and the PlayStation Vita was reported to have been somewhere in the “mid 30K” range.

As for software sales, NPD’s combined SKU chart shows that the Wii U failed to put any of its exclusive software in top 10.

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (360, PS3, Wii U, PC)
2. Far Cry 3 (360, PS3, PC)
3. Just Dance 4 (Wii, 360, PS3, Wii U)
4. NBA 2K13 (360, PS3, Wii, Wii U, PSP, PC)
5. Madden NFL 13 (360, PS3, Wii, PSV, Wii U)
6. DMC: Devil May Cry (PS3, 360)
7. Halo 4 (360)
8. Assassin’s Creed III (360, PS3, Wii U, PC)
9. Skylander Giants (Wii, 360, PS3, 3DS, Wii U)
10. FIFA Soccer 13 (PS3, 360, PSV, Wii, Wii U, 3DS, PSP)

While the exact numbers are not publicly known, Nintendo is clearly facing a huge sales problem with the Wii U in the U.S.. The console’s momentum has quickly faded and it is losing ground on the last generation systems. Price cuts and additional software would seem to be the only options left to Nintendo at this point, as the road is not going to get any easier once Microsoft and Sony debut and launch their next-gen systems.

Speaking of the next Xbox and PlayStation (and this is just speculation on my part), but I firmly believe that the wider economic situation is also a big factor with the slowing Wii U sales. I fully expect that we will see a similar trend with Microsoft and Sony’s next generation systems, which will likely carry a significantly higher price tag than the Wii U.

Wii U and next-gen sales speculation aside, total video game sales of new retail hardware and software totaled $834.8 million during January. This does represent a 9% increase year-over-year, however, when adjusted for the longer five-week reporting period this year sales actually fell 13%.