Nintendo: Still King Of Japanese Holiday Sales

Troubled times as the company may have been through, Nintendo remains as recognizable a face in the game industry as any. Wii-U sales spent most of 2013 wallowing around in the mud, but once again, December has arrived to save Mario's crew from an early grave.

The Wii-U had been making a habit of hitting merely 4-digit hardware sales numbers, and suffered several disappointing software launches. Wind Waker's HD version released to only 30,000 sales in its opening week (outsold even by My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute for PS3), while the Wii-U shifted fewer than 6,000 units.

Even when Super Mario 3D World launched, the machine only moved about 21k. Mario 3D World itself sold about 100k, which is a great performance for most games, but far short of expectations, and the lowest debut of any 3D Mario game in history. (The previous low had been Super Mario 64 at 120k, which was only low because it was a launch title. 3D World, on the other hand, was arriving after nearly a year of Wii-U being on the market, as well as a price drop.) Stress ulcers were not unjustified.

But then, out of nowhere, sales began to increase as the end of the year drew nearer.  The Wii-U sold 48k, and then 72k, and then, last week, six figures.

Japanese hardware sales from December 16 to 22:

3DS – 232,600

WIU – 109,113

PSV – 55,591

PS3 – 24,573

PSP – 9,905

WII – 1,711

360 – 763

As you can see, Xbox 360 sales are also soaring, selling over double the usual amount.

The breakdown of Vita sales above comes in the form of 50k for the handheld system, and a boost of 5,500 from the Vita TV.

The software cards fell this way:

1. (3DS) PazuDora Z: Puzzle & Dragons Z

2. (3DS) Pokemon X / Y

3. (PS3) New Dynasty Warriors: Gundam

4. (PS3) Drakengard 3

5. (WIU) Super Mario 3D World

6. (PSV) New Dynasty Warriors: Gundam

7. (3DS) Animal Crossing: New Leaf

8. (3DS) Friend Collection: New Life

9. (3DS) Monster Hunter 4

10. (3DS) Inazuma Eleven Go Galaxy: Big Bang / Supernova

11. (3DS) Attack on Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind

12. (3DS) Aikatsu! 2-nin no My Princess

13. (3DS) Disney Magic Castle: My Happy Life

14. (3DS) One Piece: Unlimited World Red

15. (3DS) Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

16. (PSV) Gekijouban Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Battle Pentagram

17. (3DS) Mario Kart 7

18. (3DS) Battle For Money Sentouchuu: Densetsu no Shinobi no Survival Battle!

19. (3DS) New Super Mario Bros. 2

20. (WIU) Wii Party U

Puzzle and Dragons is an extremely popular smartphone game that made the transition to 3DS last week, to raging success. It's held onto the top spot for two weeks in a row now, selling 800,000 copies. Drakengard 3 made a successful debut with 114,000, and Animal Crossing has stayed on the charts for an outrageous 13 months straight. Games simply do not do that. Then again, that's no ordinary game.

The next two weeks will likely see high sales, but declines all around, if past trends are any indication. New Year holidays tend to keep things high in Japan, and then January stays nice thanks to teenagers spending their New Year's money, though these weeks don't tend to match the one right before Christmas. It will be interesting to see how things unfold in 2014.