Mario 3D sales shouldn't be cause for half as much worry as the fact that the Wii U has such a large percentage of its sales in NA, with Black Friday being past, we're going to see a pretty sizeable drop, perhaps with Europe providing 48-55k, Japan at 35-40k-ish and NA with 65-80k and a global total around 150-180, could go over but it would be a fairly typical December rise in percentages. November NPD will not be a pleasant read.
Then again, there are those stating it will go into and stay at the 350k + mark starting December 1st.
Ever since the N64, Nintendo has had a similar problem as Xbox has with a disproportionate amount of sales going to America. While about two thirds of all Xbox systems and well over half of all 360s were sold in America, 54% of all NESs, 46.6% of SNESs, 61% of N64s, 57.7% of GameCubes, and 44.8% of Wii systems.
While more NES and SNES units were sold in American than in Japan, correcting for population size, the NES and SNES actually did better in Japan than in America, but during the fifth generation Japanese gamers jumped ship to PlayStation in droves, likely due to the fact that many big titles that are hugely popular in Japan, especially the JRPG duumvirate of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, went from being Nintendo exclusives to Sony exclusives. While the Wii did see Nintendo regain majority market share, Japan's uniquely shrinking console market (which peaked in the fifth generation) resulted in the system selling fewer units (12.7 million) than either the NES (19.35M) or SNES (17.2M).
Meanwhile, in America the N64 sold 2.7 million fewer units than the SNES and actually sold about 5% more software. While Sony did consume pretty much all of the new growth for the generation in America, including everything Sega lost, Nintendo still held on. And even though the GameCube got steamrolled by the PS2 (really, nobody stood a chance against that beast) and was having to split the remaining market share with the Xbox, and thus hardware sales dropped even in America, it performed far better here than everywhere else, and it actually had the best attach rate of any Nintendo system, causing it to sell about as many games as the SNES and N64. And even though the Wii saw Nintendo greatly expand their market share in all regions, they again did best in America relative to market size, just edging out Europe in hardware and clearly winning on software. Overall, America has been the most Nintendo-friendly region of all, and I suspect the Wii U will do much of its business here.
As for Europe, the Wii was the first really big Nintendo console in the region (though Nintendo's handhelds always did very well in the region). It sold more than the NES, SNES, N64, and GC combined. Without all the key factors that led to the Wii's global success (e.g., games, price, & marketing), it's no surprise that the Wii U is showing Nintendo drop back down to pre-Wii numbers on the console front.
Of course, the brand that has the least concentrated distribution is PlayStation, and that's due mainly to the fact that it is historically the biggest brand in Europe. Each of the three PlayStation systems sold about a third of their units in North America, while Europe bought about another third of PS1 & PS2s and about 40% of all PS3s. While Nintendo and Xbox rely mainly on America, PlayStation relies mainly on the other regions, though as America is the biggest market it's obviously important to Sony as well. And since Japan is the only market that's been shrinking (not by much numerically speaking, but still), that means that all brands are going to become more heavily dependent on the West.
|Mario 3D isn't a flop, it's just not frontloaded like 2D Mario (to a greater extent, 2D Mario also has great legs). However, it's hard to see how Mario Kart and Smash will drive sales enormously, even teamed with the rest of the gang if price cuts (that saw global weekly numbers dropping back to normal within a few weeks and Japan numbers went down at the beginning of November) 3D Mario, massive bundling and a super sized advertising campaign could only manage a 274k top week, this might have been the best week we'll see this season, or at least very close.
Mario is fine, Europe and Japan numbers are not, people are saying that "it's all good, it has Japan all to itself" but that's a strange way of seeing things. If numbers are this low now, they are bound to become even worse with actual competition. Being this heavily dependant on the American market is not a good thing, especially with Sony and MS making such a large push to capture that market, and the Xbox brand is particularly strong there (right alongside the 7th gen market leader in that region now).
SM3DW has indeed been doing quit well in America, as I suspected it would. America already has a considerably higher tie ratio than Japan for the Wii U, and has already generated half of all software despite generating a noticeably smaller proportion of hardware sales.
Mario Kart and Smash Bros. individually might not result in a huge long-term boost (most big games when they boost sales usually only do so for a week or two, maybe a month at most). While it's hard to sort anything out from the extremely noisy weekly U.S. sales data for the Wii in 2008, SSB Brawl debuted in March and MKWii in April, and March-June hardware sales were far better than any spring period in the Wii's history. Similarly, in Europe MKWii's launch coincided with a steady uptick in system sales for several weeks. So, Smash Bros. and Mario Kart both appear to be system-sellers in America, and Mario Kart was a definite system-seller in Europe. However, Japan showed no such increase in sales the week of either game's debut, though oddly enough Wii sales did have a solid spike several weeks after MKWii's debut, which coincided with the release of... get this... Link's Crossbow training. So, either MK had a delayed effect on hardware sales, or a game that debuted three weeks later to far lower sales became an unexpected system-seller. Japan can be hard to figure out at times. In any case, I suspect MK8 and SSB will help Wii U sales temporarily, but collectively they could, along with DKC and everything that came beforehand, help enhance baseline sales and give the system a very good Holiday 2014.