Did Nintendo's Wii U Just Outsell Microsoft's Xbox One?

Nintendo's (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY  ) Wii U had a rough 2013. Poor sales across every major territory and the arrival of new consoles from Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) threatened to make the device irrelevant after its first year on the market. Nintendo's move to implement price cuts and bundles seems to have some effect, but the enthusiasm surrounding PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have highlighted the Wii U's weak position.

Conventional wisdom holds that sales of both the PS4 and the Xbox One will quickly eclipse those of Nintendo's latest console. Now, a controversial sales tracking website has published figures suggesting that the Wii U actually outsold the Xbox One in the last week of December. Does this amount to little more than statistical noise, or is the console market picture much different than originally projected?

According to someone
Popular gaming sales website VGChartz recently posted numbers that show the Wii U outselling the Xbox One in the final week of the year. The site lists global weekly Wii U sales at just under 320,000 units, while its Xbox One numbers show just over 307,000 units sold for the period. If these numbers are accurate, it could portend a bleak future for Microsoft's console. Coming off of solid launch numbers, failing to outsell the Wii U in a crucial holiday month could be evidence of a precipitous drop in demand and a need to reduce prices sooner than planned.

Wii U's sign of life in the homeland
The Wii U is having a stronger than expected December in Japan. After bundles that majorly upgraded the system's value proposition seemed to land with a whimper and Super Mario 3D World posted a series-low sales debut, the Wii U appeared to be over in Japan. December saw it become the country's second-best selling hardware along with a strengthening of 3D World's numbers. The last available weekly Japanese tracking data for the Wii U has the system selling approximately 120,000 units. It's not unreasonable to believe that December's final sales week saw the console match or slightly exceed that figure.

While the Wii U had a mildly surprising December in Japan, the system remains comatose in Europe. Nintendo's second fiscal quarter saw the continent's retailers ship back in excess of 20,000 consoles to the company. This means that while the Xbox One is not tallying sales in Japan, the Wii U is a non-factor in Europe.

PS4 emerges as the early sales favorite
Both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One outsold the Wii U's LTD UK sales in a matter of days. Tracking has the PS4 selling approximately 530,000 units and the Xbox One at approximately 366,000. The UK is not a perfect indicator for how sales will pan out in the rest of Europe, but Sony's system looks to have momentum advantages elsewhere as well. Still, being outsold by the PS4 does not mean that the Xbox One was outperformed by the Wii U.

Pick a number, any number
Nintendo's console sold approximately 220,000 across North America in November. A generous assumption would see the system selling about 90,000 North American units in the final week of the year. After combining these optimistic North American and Japanese estimates, VGChartz stated figure would require that approximately 100,000 European units were sold in the last week of December. Not gonna happen.

Even if the demand for the Xbox One in North America plummeted after its impressive debut or supply constraint was a major factor, it's still very unlikely that the system was outsold by Nintendo's Wii U. Numbers from VGChartz should be approached with a great deal of skepticism. In fact, other sources have commented the site's methodology and the quality of its predictions seem to be suspect. It has created and maintained Internet popularity because soundly researched and supported sales figures are costly and hard to come by, while its own are free and readily available.

Standing by your sources
As PR spin doctors from Sony and Microsoft make statements about being the best-selling console here or the fastest-selling console there, sites like VGChartz are tossing their own brand of noise into the talkosphere. There's a lot of information being pumped out, and the dust will settle sooner or later. Maybe the Xbox One really is in trouble and Microsoft will have to implement swift and precise action to save its course. Maybe the Wii U really did outsell Xbox One on that cold week in December. It could be big news, but don't trust it unless it's published by a reputable tracker. 

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Read/Post Comments (12) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 5:03 PM, Iseeclearly wrote:

    Then why did i see 2 huge store in 2 of the main german ciities that had bing chunks of xbox ones no1 bought?

    Why shouldnt Microsoft not fake numbers? Exxon got away with faking reserverse for 10 years.

    Seriously even if Wii u would fail, what it doesnt dont pretend the xbox one is selling as good as the ps4 that is hilarious

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 5:05 PM, Iseeclearly wrote:

    Its not even the price, even 100 dollars cheaper the ps4 would outsell the xbox one, the Wii u can easily outsell the xbox one this year

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 5:07 PM, GrooveMachine wrote:

    Yup, hard to believe that a system that is half the price of the Xbox, has a pretty good library already, and actually just plays games would do more sales than your precious Microsoft machine.

    Have you ever actually played anything on a Wii U? The surprise and shock in your propaganda's tone would tell me no. How dare people go out and buy a Wii U when for the last 18 months this site has gone to great lengths to tell people to stay away from all things Nintendo, no matter what.

    We all know the PS4 is going to do great sales, but this constant Nintendo bashing to build up the Xbox on the Motley Fool is getting ridiculous. Oh, wait, that's right, MS and MF are tied together. Why can't you just report the numbers and let people enjoy their gaming hobby on whatever system(s) they enjoy?

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 6:41 PM, Jarky wrote:

    So this site's infallible predictions about the game industry fell flat? Imagine that.

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 10:05 PM, speculawyer wrote:

    1) VGchartz is notoriously unreliable.

    2) Who would be surprised by the Kiddie console (WiiU) outselling the Xbone right before Christmas?

    Nothing to be drawn from this.

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 10:29 PM, laethyn wrote:

    Calling the WiiU "kiddie console" is pretty stupid and childish.

    I mean, I'm not the greatest judge of what is "kiddie" and what isn't, but last I heard, Assassin's Creed IV, Zombie U, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Sniper Elite, Watch Dogs, Walking Dead, Darksiders, etc. etc. etc. weren't really "kid friendly".

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 11:36 PM, CharlesClarke3rd wrote:

    I like the Wii U and I like the XBox One. The PS4 is a cr@p someone needs to flush. And if you are a Sony fan boy I have news for you. 3d is dead and Sony with it. The NFL no longer supports 3d. That was Sony's only hope. Touch gaming is next and the Vita isn't cutting it. Wii U has a decent strategy but Xbox One's WiFi direct Smartglass strategy is most cost effective. XBox One will win out in the end. Having voice recognition in so many languages is the only hang up for Microsoft right now. Eventually, they will get past that hurdle, then PS4 will be doomed.

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 12:52 AM, aivahn wrote:

    @charlesclarke3rd yo Microsoft fan boy you should change your name. Why you gotta hate? You complain about spending 500 on an iPhone but hypocritically will spend the exact same amount on a xbone box. You seriously need to shut the f--- up and keep your thoughts to yourself. Please go back to living your miserable life, and take a swift roundhouse kick to the mouth and ask for another. I'd happily spit upon your face

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 1:31 AM, fenixt wrote:

    As a happy Wii U owner this *may* be great news *if* it were true. Even after everyone from third party developers, the media, xbox and playstation fans degraded and ripped apart Nintendo and the Wii U like rabid wolves fighting and taking chunks out of an innocent bunny, I won't come here and say something like "Xbone are dooommmeeed!".

    I was 6 years old when my family got the NES for Xmas, and I haven't owned a Nintendo console since then. I skipped a few generations and started gaming again on the PS2. Then I started playing all the PC games from the original Half Life to the most recent stuff. I gave up PC gaming to save money and started playing on the Xbox 360 and the PS3. And I've played tons of games on those, but I still felt unsatisfied with what I was playing for some reason (might be the reason for going through so many games and platforms)

    This generation of consoles, I decided to live a little and bought a Wii U a month and half ago. This is SERIOUSLY the most fun I've had playing games. Even the NES (nostalgia glasses off) or any other platform (PC, PS, XBOX) can't lay a finger on how much enjoyment I am getting off this cheap console. I have been playing 3D World, Pikmin 3, ZombiU, and Wind Waker HD. These games have more charm and imagination than I can shake a stick at. When I play any of these, with the gamepad in hand, I smile like a goofy kid in awe. It's the best 300 I've ever spent in gaming. Call the gamepad gimmicky if you like, but hot d--- it is pretty f---cking cool.

    I don't understand how people can say that it is overpriced. Hell, for the price of a graphics card, you get a system that is in HD, the best exclusives, and has a freakin' touchscreen on the controller.

    And isn't that what it's all about? Enjoyment and fun and getting your feel goods? If that's your priority, the Wii U and it's first party exclusives won't disappoint. Just don't listen to the people bashing it, most all of them never tried it and don't own one. I'll tell you as a person who ignored the media and the bashers, that the Wii U is awesome an under appreciated gem.

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 4:19 PM, newjosh wrote:

    @ fenixt

    Same here. I have never owned a nintendo console before apart from a pseudo nes (one of those that were sold with 500 games in a cartridge) when I was 9. Since then I have had a Master System, a Mega drive and the first Playstation. Unfortunately becoming an adult forced me stop for a while although I had the chance to try other consoles like Game cube, Ps2 and the original Wii when visiting friends and family.

    Last summer I purchased PS3, now owning about 50 "top quality" games (the ones I like) More recently a friend gave me his used Xbox 360 giving me the chance of playing Microsoft exclusives like the Halo entire saga, Forza, etc.

    Well, even though I still have so many unplayed games I purchased the Wii U and all I can say is that this is the best console experience I ever had. Enjoying ZombieU, Windwaker, Black flag, Mario... Graphics are really good, gameplay is pure fun and there is so much potential in the system to do things that have never been done before. The gamepad is awesome and it only feels odd for the first few hours, after that trust me when I say that you will feel "blind" when playing without it.

    The only problem I see with this console is the fact that some developers have taken the -not so good sales of its first year- as an excuse for not supporting the system.

    I like to think that the way a game looks should improve with each new generation but the thought of playing the same games (except for better graphics) over an over again does not appeal me. I personally believe that innovation should be rewarded.

  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 9:54 AM, gamer4lyfe wrote:

    Another foolish article by one of motleys fool, fool's.. I played the new Forza on the Xbox one,I was not impressed. Matter of fact GT5 on Ps3 looks better and more detailed. Rise is a joke, dont get me started on Ps4 bs softwar library. Fact of the matter is, Ive owned xboxs sony ps's and nintendo consoles. Right now the Wii U's graphics, gameplay and game library is unmatched by the rivals. Its going to be that way throughout 2014, afterwards Sony and developers will become more familar with the system, games will get better so will graphics.Xbox fans its going to be a long year for you..Dont get butthurt these are just facts.Xbox will be stronger than ever in 2 or 3 years, right now not so much..

  • Report this Comment On January 15, 2014, at 7:54 AM, typicalguy wrote:

    The Wii U was heavily discounted during the holiday season. I picked a Zelda Wind Waker bundle up for only $225. There were no discounts on the Xbox One. Now that prices for the Wii U have returned to their original and unpalatable price of $300, I expect sales to dry up once again while Xbox One sales will be steady though not nearly as high as the PS4 sales. It's a bit early to declare PS4 the top console for this generation but based on current trends it seems almost certain to happen.

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