New sales figures show that Nintendo’s Mario Kart 8 appears to have turned around what has undeniably been a rough start for the Wii U. Now, Nintendo is saying that the new Mario Kart‘s sales could see the Wii U outselling the PS4 and the Xbox One in the near future… lolwhut?
Console warriors wait for the middle of the month like stock brokers awaiting quarterly returns. The mid-month week means NPD figures get released, and that means rough sales figures on hardware and software for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft platforms. Since the Wii U’s launch, Nintendo has seen the same dismal figures showing an underperforming console with a poor attach rate. Once Sony and Microsoft launched their systems last fall, the common wisdom held that the more powerful PS4 and Xbox One zoomed past the tablet-enabled Wii U.
And that might be true, but Mario Kart 8 might well have turned things around. The new Mario Kart title power-slid into the hearts of reviewers, sparking memes and generating the first true buzz around Nintendo in quite a while. So, how did it do in sales?
We already know that it sold 1.2 million in its first weekend, and it appears to have gone on to even better numbers since. Mario Kart 8 took the second place spot in software sales for May, behind Watch Dogs. That figure might be even more impressive, considering the fact that Watch Dogs was available across the PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, whereas Mario Kart 8 was available only on Nintendo’s Wii U.
The new Mario Kart beat out Minecraft for consoles, a licensed Spider-Man game, Titanfall, and even the new Wolfenstein.
So Mario Kart 8 is selling; fine. But what’s this business about the Wii U moving ahead of either of the two “true next-gen consoles?” Is Nintendo just feeling its oats a bit, given Mario Kart‘s success?
Well, if you ask Nintendo of America president Reggie “My Body Is Ready” Fils-Aime, there’s a bit more than Kart oat-feeling going on. Mario Kart‘s spark is even more impactful than the vague NPD horse-race – Kart race? – figures let on, he says.
“The first three days,” Fils-Aime told The Seattle Times, “we sold 450,000 ['Mario Kart 8'] units in the United States.”
That, of course, contributed to a quadrupling of Wii U hardware sales over the initial launch days; fine. But what about the outselling?
“The dirty little secret,” Fils-Aime continued, “is if you look at life-to-date numbers, between Sony and Nintendo they’d be pretty close in terms of PS4 vs. Wii U, with Xbox coming in third place. I think it’s going to be a three-horse race for the balance of this cycle.”
Fils-Aime’s thinking may sound a bit optimistic, but remember that the Wii U had a year’s head-start on the competition. Nintendo is, in effect, bragging that it hasn’t gotten lapped yet by its competition. But the release of the new Mario Kart has apparently rejuvenated Nintendo’s console, and Fils-Aime doesn’t think it’s going to be a one-hit wonder.
“You know, it’s going to be very interesting to see the NPD data for [on US sales] for June,” he said, when asked if he thinks the Wii U could outsell the PS4 and Xbox One.
Rapid growth in the Wii U install base, as we’ve said before, could jumpstart a virtuous cycle for the troubled console. More people with Wii U units means more potential buyers of third-party games, meaning more people interested in the console due to its library, meaning more games get made…
Going forward, Nintendo won’t have to rely on just Mario Kart 8 to drive sales. The company set the gaming web aflame – both in excitement and in controversy – with new footage from a forthcoming Legend of Zelda game. Nintendo may also be prepping a new installment in the fan-favorite Metroid series. The Wii U rejuvenation all started with Mario Kart 8, though, and you’ll get a Luigi Death Stare if you think otherwise.