Wii U Sales Climb Slowly Despite Key Releases

Console reached 3m sales in 9 months; 3DS sales sink as gamers await new model; Nintendo still expects annual profit.

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Nintendo managed to sell 3 million Wii U consoles worldwide during the final nine months of 2014, marking only a slight increase from the 2.4 million sold in the same period of 2013.

The new figures bring the Wii U's total lifetime sales to 9.2 million, an indication that, despite key releases such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros for Wii U, Nintendo is still struggling to push forward with its troubled system.

By comparison, the original Wii had surpassed 44 million sales worldwide after its third Christmas on the market. Sony's PlayStation 4 passed 18.5 million by its second Christmas, and although Microsoft hasn't recently revealed detailed sales numbers, it had shipped 10 million Xbox Ones worldwide before December.

More than half of Wii U owners have bought Mario Kart 8
More than half of Wii U owners have bought Mario Kart 8

However, the tie-ratios for key Wii U games are strong. Mario Kart 8 has sold 4.8 million units, meaning more than half of Wii U owners have purchased the game. Meanwhile, Super Smash Bros for Wii U managed to sell 3.4 million units.

Nintendo 3DS sales fell significantly during the nine-month period, due in part to gamers in Europe and North America awaiting the release of the New Nintendo 3DS model. In total, some 7 million 3DS units shipped worldwide during the three quarters, down from the 11.6 million sold during the same period last year.

Of that number, sales of the New Nintendo 3DS in Japan--which launched in October--accounted for 1.8 million (0.6m for the smaller model, 1.2 for the XL). Despite slower sales, the handheld nevertheless passed a key lifetime sales milestone of 50 million units.

Key 3DS software performed handsomely, with Pokémon Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire selling 9.35 million units, and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS hitting 6.19 million.

The combined performance of the 3DS and Wii U, along with its software, is expected to pull Nintendo out of an annual loss for the first time since 2013. Total sales for the year are revised down slightly, by 7 percent, to $4.7 billion, while profit expected to reach $505 million, compared to the $200 million loss last year.

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