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

Numbers from a controversial source suggest that that Wii U posted better worldwide hardware numbers than the Xbox One in the final week of 2013. Can these numbers be trusted? What, if anything, do they mean for the future of the console industry?

Jan 11, 2014 at 4:00PM

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. 

Make the most from your video gaming experience!
Want to figure out how to profit on business analysis like this? The key is to learn how to turn business insights into portfolio gold by taking your first steps as an investor. Those who wait on the sidelines are missing out on huge gains and putting their financial futures in jeopardy. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal-finance experts show you what you need to get started, and even gives you access to some stocks to buy first. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Keith Noonan has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers