Australia, May 8, 2009 - Complacency in the face of consumer doubt in the marketplace. It's a dangerous thing – particularly for the market leader, Nintendo – the fiscal king of gaming. However, this is exactly the situation the gaming goliath has found itself in at time of writing – precariously balanced atop the tower as two other competitors scramble at its heels.

With the global recession now finally taking its toll against the so-called evergreen gaming market, we're examining the latest global sales trends – and the results are surprising. While still churning out impressive profits, Nintendo may have finally hit its peak with the Wii – and with a lack of stand-out titles hitting the market in the last 12 months, it's possible Nintendo has been too complacent and the market is threatening to move on to the next-big-thing.

Off the back of recent profit posting, we examine some potential threats to Nintendo's ongoing successes.

PS3 outsells Wii in Japan

March and April have been some of the PS3's strongest months since launch for Sony's PlayStation 3, and the first time the Wii has dropped behind the PS3 in 16 months. This is a big deal. On the surface, sales can be directly attributed to the release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children on Blu-ray – coupled with the demo for Final Fantasy XIII.

The scene at the Japanese launch of the Wii. These days, only the DSi has come close to a this passionate response from Nintendo fans in the Land of the Rising Fun.

Naturally, Sony has a stable of potential buyers who are waiting for this series to land before putting down the dollars on a PS3. However the demo alone was enough to shift 62,527 units during the week ending April 24. During that same period, the Wii shifted only 13,221 units. Critically, the PS3 has just overtaken the Wii for raw sales since the start of 2009 in Japan too.

Why does this matter? Japan has long been an excellent market for measuring upcoming trends. If the Japanese gaming enthusiast is moving on from the Wii – and if game sales are down – then it's a trend that may translate globally down the line. Nintendo is going to have to act fast to stem the PS3's progress in the Japanese market if they are to retain their market-leading position long-term.

Game and console sales are down

The all-important market research firm, NPD Group, paint an interesting picture of the market right now. NPD, who base their figures on sales data from the North American retail sector, has shown that the global recession is slowing down hardware sales. That's natural – people are being more cautious with their money.

In 2008, the US market made an estimated US$1.43 billion, which is down 17 percent from US$1.72 billion. That's still nothing to sniff at – Nintendo still earned an operating profit of US$5.6 billion globally, too. However, the only company to make year-on-year console hardware sales grown wasn't Nintendo – it was Microsoft. Wii is still on top in the US (and Australia, for that matter) – but Microsoft is truly making up ground.

While February and March are traditionally quiet months, if the industry continues to decline and Nintendo's hardware sales have in fact reached saturation point, the door will be open to Sony and Microsoft to aggressively price-cut, release Wii-like hardware add-ons and further eat into Nintendo's market share.

Where are the games?

It might seem like a simple point, but the Wii has not had a blockbuster 'pure' gaming title since Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which landed in the US in March 2008. Without support for traditional gamers – users who influence friends and family with infectious passion – the level of grassroots marketing and excitement is drastically reduced. If people aren't talking about your brand, then there's a problem.

Wii Music is fun but ultimately a gimmick - and a product that flies in the face of Nintendo's past trend-setting innovations.

Sony has seen incredible successes with its SingStar brand of karaoke games in PAL markets, capturing the casual and female demographic, and much of this is due to regular injections of fresh content – either on disc or through the SingStore. Whereas WiiSports brought in a similarly broad demographic, there hasn't been a fresh WiiSports yet. That's a serious problem. Wii Fit has captured a lot of users, too – but there's simply a lack of fresh content for both casual markets to keep them in front of their TVs and using Wii every day. We're not saying there needs to be a new WiiSports title every month – but there needs to be more consistency in releases throughout the year.

Wii Music was a strange miscalculation for the company, too – trying to capture that same SingStar 'lounge-room performer' market – but with a product that lacked the wide appeal of licensed songs and fresh, regular content updates. For a company that prides itself on leading the pack and innovating, it was a bit of a 'me-too' manoeuvre. Such a game also came at the expense of development time that could've been invested in bringing games like WiiSports Resort to shelves sooner – to likely greater fiscal result.