Can Mario Kart 8 plug the money hole?
Is anyone else sick and tired of hashing over sales data and balancesheets rather than talking about games? You know, seeing as we're gamers rather than marketing executives? Unfortunately it's technically my remit... and in fairness I haven't broken out the Nintendo flogging paddle in a while. It's getting a bit dusty, despite heavy use last year.
In fact, I don't really want to use it now that Ninty's annual financial report has released to the public - they probably deserve it, but kicking someone while they're down seems seriously unsportsmanlike. Another disastrous showing for the Wii U has led to a net loss, as their floundering console failed to gain any traction over Christmas and actively burns money like some sort of cash-powered blast furnace. Brilliant games notwithstanding.
So, to the numbers then. Nintendo turned last year's slight profit into a £134 million loss, much of which can be attributed to the Wii U. There's no easy way to say it: the console just didn't sell, with the total worldwide figure now standing at a measly 6.1 million units since the 2014 launch. To put this in perspective, the PS4 has already sold well clear of 7 million units at last count, while Microsoft have shipped (not sold) around five million Xbox One consoles.
The news gets worse, because aggresive retailer markdowns means that every Wii U sale loses Nintendo money, while software sales are too low to recoup the damage. As we predicted, the utterly superb Super Mario 3D World barely sold one million copies or attracted much in the way of new punters, due to its lack of bundle, terrible release date and overly conservative brand. Ugh, again, we're not marketing executives. I hate writing stuff like that, especially since the Wii U is festooned with exceptional games.
But I have to, because otherwise they just won't learn, will they?
The 3DS still continues to bring home the bacon, though. Lifetime sales stand at 43 million consoles across all models, while games are making serious bank. You won't be surprised to hear that Pokemon X & Y topped 12.6 million sales and climbing. Seeing as the 3DS was the best console of last year -- no, really, it was -- that's rather fitting.
Then again, perhaps Nintendo are learning, as evidenced by Mario Kart 8's recent Nintendo Direct and free game promotion. The Wii U sadly lacked a system seller over the last two years, but now it has one, Ninty seem determined to take full advantage. Here's hoping that a strong E3 showing, some exceptional games and a little momentum can turn things around.
Whether Iwata can hold onto his job, or squirrels out of the firing line by muttering something about "quality of life," is another matter entirely.
Until then, I'm off to play more Etrian Odyssey Untold on my 3DS. I'll have the review ready soon, honest (spoiler alert: it's ruddy brilliant).