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Forums - Sales Discussion - Game Releases Per Year on Nintendo Consoles in the USA

Using Nintendo's site and Wikipedia, excluding downloadable games, and including bundled retail games, I've come up with the following for game releases by Nintendo console per year in the USA.


Year 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Wii 0 23 153 264 282 250
GC 0 20 146 135 98 92 46 5 0 0 0 0
N64 0 8 33 71 89 68 7 1 0 0 0 0
SNES 0 36 117 189 240 133 51 12 2 0 0 0
NES 0 18 17 56 66 94 171 124 109 48 15 0

I'm using 1985 as Year 1 for NES, 1991 as year 1 for SNES, 1996 as year 1 for N64, 2001 as year 1 for GC, and 2006 as year 1 for Wii. For NES, the formal USA-wide release wasn't until 1986, and so arguably year six is really year five. But NES launched in NYC in 1985, and in Los Angeles in Feb 1986.

In any case, by game releases the peak for Wii is 2009 (Year 4), for GC 2003 (Year 3), for N64 its 1999 (Year 4), for SNES its 1994 (Year 4), and for NES its 1990 (Year 5 or Year 6).

Roughly speaking, since there are 52 weeks in a year, you can take the numbers to mean on average the following number of games release per week.


25 0.5 / week
50 1 / week
100 2 / week
150 3 / week
200 4 / week
250 5 / week

Wii has been on a 5 game per week pace for three years now. NES had six years where on average one game released per week in the USA. SNES had five such years. N64 had only three, GC had four. Wii has already had four such years and there are over a dozen games in 2011 already with firm Q1 release dates for Wii. So Wii will have at least five years (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) where one game or more released on average per week. Something like 50-100 Wii games released in Q4 2010 as well, so I'd reckon 2011 will still see at an absolute minimum 100 releases in the West.

Visually, the data looks like this -

If you combine it all, and do it on a yearly basis, you can see that there is a bit of a lag period in how support moves. NES peaked in 1989, but it got the most games in 1990. Wii peaked in 2008, but it got the most games in 2009.

The upswings in consoles generally predate the upswing in game releases.

The Largest Game Increases: 1989 to 1990 (NES peak, plus 77 games), 2001 to 2002 (Cartridges to Discs / N64 to GC, plus 120 games), 2006 to 2007 (GC to Wii, plus 89 games), 2007 to 2008 (Wii 2007 to all-time console / Wii peak - plus 106 games). Nothing else is real close for increases

The Largest Largest HW increases:

NES: 100x growth from 1985 to 1989 (90,000 in 1985 to 9,200,000 in 1989)

Wii: 10x growth from 2006 to 2010 (1.1m to 10.1m)

NES: 9x growth from 1986 to 1989 (1m in 1986, 9.2m in 1989)

Going by the data, and how extended the Wii peak is going to be (27m in 2008-2010?) I'd reckon Wii will follow the SNES late-cycle curve at least in 2011, but at a far higher level. It certainly isn't going to have more games in year six then it did in year five like NES did.

Moreover, if we added in WiiWare and Virtual Console, Wii would have another 800 games or so to its total, which previous systems from Nintendo did not have. So its obviously Nintendo's most "used" system of all time in the USA.

Finally, Americas shipments for avg game sales calculations:

Wii: 334.45m through Sept 2010 (344,000 for avg title using year end totals - will be higher with Dec 2010 shipment info when shipments top 360m or more)

NES: 230.85m (321,500 for avg title - but roughly 260 fewer games). Huge market leads to strong initial SNES support

N64: 142.06m (512,900 for avg title - but 1/3 the games of SNES with more expensive / challenging development). Strong sales despite challenges lead to stronger GC support out of the gate.

GC: 138.48m (255,500 for avg title - but 2x the game of N64). Easier market than N64 due to liscencing changes, super-high attach rate leading to bigger diversity of hits.

SNES: 135.5m (172,600 for avg title thanks to Genesis war, but 70 more games than NES). Origin of third parties looking to Sony is the drop off in avg sales.

People are difficult to govern because they have too much knowledge.

When there are more laws, there are more criminals.

- Lao Tzu

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Very intersting data! I forgot how long it took for publishers to start releasing games for the NES.

Good to see the average N64 game sold the most, it had the best games.

N64 also had virtually no third pary games though so its primarily because they didn't have to compete much with each other. About 225 in 5-6 years, 40ish a year, or three per month.

People are difficult to govern because they have too much knowledge.

When there are more laws, there are more criminals.

- Lao Tzu

wow the N64 got very low support 

Its amazing how many games 

Do you think the Wii will get as many games as PS2 with 1800 or like 1100 PS1 games

Of Course That's Just My Opinion, I Could Be Wrong

I knew the N64 didn't have much 3rd party support at all, but that's low