So Much Is Riding on One Nintendo Title

Source: Nintendo.

Nintendo (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY  ) is quickly running out of options to save the Wii U. We learned this week that -- despite the introduction of some key new games lately -- the console is still selling poorly.

Nintendo moved just 460,000 Wii U systems over the past six months, putting total sales since last year's launch at an anemic 3.91 million devices. By comparison, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) sold about 10 million units of its current-generation Xbox 360 console in the past year. Microsoft and Sony both expect to see their strongest launches ever when their next-generation systems come out later this month.

First-party games are supposed to begin to turn the tide for Nintendo. That's the idea, anyway. The company said this summer that it had a plan to "regain momentum for the platform" that included releasing titles from some of its biggest franchises, including Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Super Mario.

The early results of that strategy are in, and they're not encouraging. Pikmin 3 launched a few months back, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was released in September. However, Wii U system sales hardly accelerated from the dreadful 160,000-unit quarterly pace that was set back in June.

Super Mario World 3D screenshot. Source: Nintendo.

Now all of the focus is turning to one mustachioed plumber in red overalls. Super Mario 3D World is set for release later this month, and the company sees it as a key title in its push to, as president Satoru Iwata put it, "change the fate of the system." Nintendo has some good reasons to be optimistic about this game. Super Mario titles were among the best performers on the original Wii: New Super Mario Brothers sold a whopping 27.88 million copies, and Super Mario Galaxy was no slouch at 12 million. If there's any single title that could move the needle on Wii U sales, it's probably one that stars the iconic plumber.

After this month's release of Super Mario 3D World, Nintendo can look forward to a potential boost from titles in the Wii Party and Wii Sports franchises, which will finally get their turns on the new system. Those were also huge sellers on the original Wii, accounting for more than 100 million units in total. Still, for those titles -- and whatever comes after -- to succeed on the Wii U, Nintendo needs to get that installed base of devices higher. A price cut alone won't do it. The company needs a hit, and it's running out of second chances.

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  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 12:50 PM, arcmage22 wrote:

    Mario may help a tad bit,but the 1 game that will make or break the Wii U will be Super Smash Bros when it comes out. It is highly anticipated by a large number of people,and I expect it to be a big seller. Another game that would help push the sells would be the introduction of a new Zelda game. Not a remake like Wind Waker even though it is a good game in itself. It is still a remake.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 12:58 PM, prginww wrote:

    But its untrue, the windwaker changed the momentum. Its just not in the report. Wii u sold 70k each week since the launch.

    Only in Japan in was not that great but it changed, in Japan now japanese are buying Wii u stuff.

    Mario 3d will change a lot in my opinion, especially considering its christmas soon an Wii u is much more children friendly and a family console as well.

    Yes i agree the new Zelda will be awesome but Mario Kart 8 will also change much.

    Nintendo will come big i have no doubt

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 1:24 PM, prginww wrote:

    I mean seriously Nintendo releasing one Blockbuster after another that sells millions without having such a big developer team as others. Without the licensing and mass appeal of sports.

    Whoever bets against nintendo is just an idiot. Since 30 years it creats blockbusters. Like over 90 percent of the game developers that existed at Nes times dont Even exist anymore, Nintendo outlived them all.

    Other companies pay much more for advertisers and pay people who are influencial, who talk the competitor good and Nintendo bad and still no1 can beat it.

    Its innovative like google. Its totally hilarious. I mean either u guys are trolling, microsoft chills or an Nintendo employee slept with your gf.

    Anyway if Microsoft cant kill them than no1 can.

  • Report this Comment On November 03, 2013, at 12:01 PM, Stealth2k wrote:

    Cant these fake journalists get a life?

  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2013, at 12:15 PM, gamer4lyfe wrote:

    Nintendo sells will be off the charts this holliday season. I cant wait to see the look on all of the haters faces. Hopefully then will 3rd parties stop making half-a.. ports to the Wii U system. Ubisoft is the only 3rd party putting in effort and their games look amazing on the U.

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