‘Mario Kart 8’ Driving Wii U Sales But Will It Be Enough?

Prior to the release of Mario Kart 8, sales of the Nintendo’s Wii U console could charitably be called disappointing. The latest iteration in the Mario Kart franchise appears to be just what Dr. Mario ordered but will it be enough to turn the tide against three straight annual losses posted by the company?

According to Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, sales of the Wii U quadrupled following the release of Mario Kart 8. Additionally, 18 percent of existing Wii U owners purchased game the weekend it was released. Previous iterations of Mario Kart saw only two to seven percent of the existing console base purchase those games at release. Sales estimating site, VGChartz, projects that the kart racer has sold 1.12 million copies worldwide so far.

Nintendo did not provide exact sales numbers for the Wii U following the result of the Wii U but there’s a little bit of conjecturing we can do based on previous financial statements though. The company reported that only 310,000 units of the console were sold during the quarter ending March 31, 2014. That averages to just over 100,000 Wii Us sold a month.

If the quadrupling effect of Mario Kart 8 is true, then the Wii U could have sold up to 400,000 units for the month of May. We’ll have to wait for the release of NPD numbers, which will likely come next week due to the E3 convention in Los Angeles this week.

While anything above 300,000 units in a month would be impressive, the questions is if Nintendo can continue the momentum started by Mario Kart 8. Fils-Aime believes they can.

“It’s one of the things I have to do with certain media, remind them, look, for us, the drive toward the holiday began a couple of weeks ago with Mario Kart 8,” he told Polygon. “And that’s off to a fantastic start. For us, on a global basis, and certainly here in the United States, it’s driving hardware, which is great to see.”

It will take more than Mario Kart and Luigi’s death stare to help Nintendo get out of the red though. It’s going to take more games to drive sales and with most third-party publishers like Electronic Arts and Activision abandoning the platform, that burden falls squarely on the shoulders of first and second-party developers. The current line-up of potential heavy hitters for the rest of 2014 includes Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad and Super Smash Bros. combined with the release of the Amiibo figures.

Nintendo lost ¥23.2 billion ($228 million) during the last fiscal year that ended March 31, 2014 with the Wii U identified as having a “negative impact.” The release of Mario Kart 8 and an entertaining E3 2014 presentation from the company should have the company hopeful for the future but the wises move may have been holding on to the large war chest built up from the “it prints money” days of the Wii U and Nintendo DS.