As the holiday season gets under way, Nintendo is celebrating strong sales of its popular Wii video-game console. The console, which launched in December 2006, has sold seven million units in Japan, according to Famitsu publisher Enterbrain.
Nintendo's handheld gaming device, Nintendo DS, has also made its mark in Japan, selling 24 million devices as of Nov. 16, according to Enterbrain. Sales were fueled by Nintendo's DSi, a new version that debuted in the Japanese market on Nov. 1.
"The Wii seems somewhat unaffected by the economic situation and is not only selling well but still scarce to find," said Michael Gartenberg, vice president of consumer strategy at Jupitermedia. "As consumers are going to be very careful where they put their dollars this year, the idea of a device that has long-term entertainment value and appeal to all members of the family is going to be very attractive."
In the third quarter, U.S. sales grew eight percent from 2007, according to Anita Frazier, an NPD Group analyst. "As would be expected at this point in the console life cycle, games sales are starting to take the spotlight even as the average retail prices of games increased slightly. Heading into the critical fourth quarter, the U.S. games industry is on solid ground."
Not All Perfect
Earlier this year NPD said Nintendo's Wii had passed the five million sales mark in the U.S. A total of 5,019,337 units were sold, for an average of 386,000 units sold per month since its launch in December 2006.
The latest estimates, however, show that the average monthly rate has dropped 24 percent to 292,000 units sold in Japan.
The not-so-great performance of unit sales has been attributed to a weakening in the Japanese software market, according to NPD, declining 21 percent from last year. The largest decline in Japan was for game-console software, followed by portable software, with respective losses of 33 percent and 13 percent.
Sales of U.S. video games and hardware rose 18 percent from the same period last year, according to NPD. Hardware sales were up five percent to $494.7 million.
In October, Nintendo sold 803,000 Wii units in the U.S., up from 687,000 in September.
In total, Nintendo has sold more than 13 million units in both markets since December 2006. Software sales were not too shabby, considering the different markets.
2007 a Banner Year in Japan
"Japan did experience sales declines in both software categories, but it is important to keep in mind that not only is Japan a more mature market than the U.S. and U.K., but 2007 was a banner year for the Japanese software market, with the titles released in the third quarter of 2008 not being as highly anticipated as those released during the same time period in 2007," said Ricky K Tanimoto, global marketing analyst for Enterbrain.
"Also, software titles generally have stronger launch sales in Japan, which represent a large percentage of the total sales in Japan compared to the U.S. and U.K.," Tanimoto added. "In regard to expectations for the remainder of the calendar year, we estimate overall video-game sales in Japan this holiday season will not be greatly affected by the world financial crisis, especially in the portable space."