An Unexpected Place Where the Wii U Struggles: Japan

Illustration for article titled An Unexpected Place Where the Wii U Struggles: Japan

Hey, good news! Wii U sales are up many countries. Bad news, they’re down in Japan.


In the financial year starting in April 2013 and ending in March 2014, Nintendo sold 1.29 million Wii Us in the Americas. As Nintendo revealed today, that number increased to 1.85 million during the financial year ending March 2015. During those same periods, in the regions Nintendo dubs “other” (read: Europe and Australasia), Wii U sales went from 550,000 to one million.

Things in Japan, however, are different. During the financial year starting in April 2013 and ending in March 2014, there were 890,000 Wii U consoles sold in Japan. In the following financial year, which ended in March 2015, Wii U sales in Japan dropped to 530,000.

The drop isn’t only in hardware. There was a slight one in game sales. So, while the Americas saw Wii U sales go from 970,000 units to 1.46 million units year-on-year and while the other regions saw sales go from 527,000 units to 646,000 units, Wii U software sales in Japan dropped from 389,000 units to 333,000. But, actually, this should also be reassuring, because there was not a huge decline in game sales.

What makes this drop in hardware sales so interesting is that the number of new titles in Japan has stayed constant: in the 2013 financial year, there were 30 new games released in Japan and in the 2014 financial year, there were also 30 new games released. In the Americas and elsewhere, the number of new Wii U titles dropped significantly (in the Americas, they went from fifty games to 25, and elsewhere, they dropped from 47 to 26 titles).

You’d think that with Nintendo being the home team, the domestic market with be an easy win. You’d think. But then, you’d be forgetting the shift from home consoles to smartphones. It’s a massive market in Japan—so big that Nintendo is teaming up with mobile game company DeNA. These numbers might show why.

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