Transition to the 3DS becoming Nintendo’s Lead Software Sales Platform
I’ll apologize in advance for this extremely long post. I’ve tried to organize it so that it will be easy to skim through and just focus on the things that may interest you.
I was interested in looking at the software sales of Nintendo’s three current systems (3DS, Wii, DS) to try to get an idea of when (or if) the 3DS will become the leading software sales system for Nintendo. I have created several graphs to look at; if there is interest in this thread I may continue to update the graphs in the future.
I am going to start by looking at the software sales on a regional basis before getting to worldwide breakdowns.
- After looking at the data, my definition of the software leader is the most recent system that sold the most software for six consecutive weeks. I think that is the right amount of time to show consistently high sales, but longer than that is difficult because of sporadic major releases on other consoles.
- Including bundled software with the Wii’s numbers.
- 3DS owners may be purchasing DS software to play on the 3DS, but that will be counted as software for the DS.
Since its release in the Americas the software sales of the 3DS have been poor relative to the two other Nintendo systems. Weekly software sales of the 3DS are usually about 1/8 -1/6 of the Wii’s weekly software, and 1/6-1/4 of the DS’s weekly software sales. Even after the price drop and increased hardware sales, the 3DS is gaining little traction in software sales relative to Wii and DS.
The one promising point on the chart is at week 13 when Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D released which caused the one major spike in the graph. Still, even that week total software sales were only about ½ of the DS’ numbers and 1/3 of Wii’s.
Prediction for time to become Nintendo’s lead software sales console: The major software release this holiday (Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7) should allow the 3DS to make major strides in passing the DS in terms of consistent weekly software sales. But based on the large current discrepancy it appears that the 3DS is still has a long way to go before becoming Nintendo’s lead software sales console. I’m thinking it will be Q3 2012 at the earliest before it passes Wii on a consistent basis.
The situation in EMEAA is very similar to what is going on in the Americas; the 3DS has not had a single week of higher weekly software sales than either the DS or Wii since it released. However; the relative performance of the 3DS compared to Wii and DS is slightly stronger in EMEAA than in Americas, with software sales being ½-1/3 of DS sales and ¼-1/5 of Wii sales on a typical week.
Again, the major software releases this holiday should help greatly in reducing that gap between the 3DS and the other two systems. In this region it is likely that the there will at least be a couple of weeks in 2011 that 3DS software sales will be higher than DS software sales, and maybe even higher than Wii sales as well. But that will be the exception not the norm in 2011.
Prediction for time to become Nintendo’s lead software sales console: The gap between the three systems is smaller in EMAA than Americas so it should close quicker as well. Based on this chart I expect 3DS software sales to start out pacing DS sales regularly in Q1 2012 and Wii sales in Q2 2012.
The situation in Japan looks quite different than in the Americas or EMAA, with the transition in lead software sales system clearly already occurring. With the definition I am using for this analysis (the lead software system is the most recent system to have sold the most software for six consecutive weeks) both the DS and Wii (the most recent sales week was the 6th week in a row it was on top) have already been Nintendo’s lead software sales platform this year. But unlike in the other two regions the 3DS has already outsold the software sales of both systems for several weeks (the 3DS has been the top Nintendo software system for 8 weeks, Wii 12, and DS 14) since its release earlier this year. With many major releases coming this holiday for the 3DS the transition period will likely be ending soon and the 3DS will emerge as Nintendo’s new software leader.
Prediction for time to become Nintendo’s lead software sales console: The Wii and 3DS will likely alternate weeks as the top software system from now until the end of November with major releases for both platforms. Starting in December with the release of Mario Kart 7 (then Monster Hunter TriG, Inazuma Eleven, etc) the 3DS will take over and dominate the Wii and DS in software sales in 2012.
What strikes me about this graph is how for the last ten weeks or so the gap between the three systems has been remarkably consistent. I do think it is a little disappointing that the price cut on the 3DS has not caused software sales to stabilize at a higher level than they have.
Prediction for time to become Nintendo’s lead software sales console: On a worldwide basis the transition process does not really even seem to have started, with all three consoles being consistent with their current levels. To overtake Wii as Nintendo’s lead software sales system it will take both high performance of upcoming major releases and the continued decline of Nintendo’s older systems. I expect this to happen on a consistent basis in Q3 2012.
For anyone interested; here is a worldwide graph with aligned launches for 3DS in the three regions.
- The transition to 3DS becoming Nintendo’s lead software system is going to vary region to region.
- Transition already happening in Japan, has yet to really begin in the West.
- Based on poor performance relative to Wii, Nintendo should have done a better job with continued software releases for Wii until 3DS becomes a strong software system.
Discussion: Do you agree with my estimates of when the 3DS will become Nintendo’s lead software system? How does the WiiU factor into this, will it prevent 3DS from ever becoming the lead system in some regions?