JULY 19, 2013 • For the second month in a row the Nintendo 3DS was the top selling console in the U.S. According to the NPD Group, the handheld moved 225,000 units in the month of June. The Xbox 360 was second at 145,000 units. Much of the steam behind the 3DS’ showing came as a result of having three titles in the Top 10. Animal Crossing New Leaf moved 505,000 units, with 20% of the total sold through Nintendo’s online eShop. Also propelling the handheld was continued strong sales of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon at 115,000 copies. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D sold 108,000 units.
Impact: The 3DS is a natural successor to the DS, the best-selling handheld of all-time. In a market filled with mobile products the 3DS is still a very compelling offering. A family with multiple children would do much better buying them each a 3DS versus getting an iPad or smartphone. That being said DFC Intelligence is forecasting the 3DS to move about half as many units as the DS over the same period in the lifecycle. Nevertheless that is still 13-14 million units worldwide a year over the next few years. A strong title line-up, plus the anticipation of a new console cycle can do wonders for handheld sales. We also suspect that fans of the Animal Crossing franchise do not necessarily overlap with the other big 3DS franchises, which may have drawn a lot of those Animal Crossing fans to buy the 3DS. Consumers who are waiting for their new Xbox One or PlayStation 4 can easily justify spending less on their current Xbox 360 or PS3 investment in favor of something not being retired – namely the 3DS. This all bodes well for the handheld after something of a lackluster start. That’s great news for Nintendo, which definitely needs some. The problem for the gamemaker is that consumers are not buying the Wii U, which is less than a year old. This same scenario that is boosting the 3DS, should be lifting the Wii U, as well. But that is not happening. Part of the reason is that strong first-party titles for the system are late to the party. Worse, the Wii U appears to be afflicted with a strong case of consumer indifference. Even Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has said many Wii owners don’t view the Wii U as a new system. As we have said before, Nintendo has failed to deliver a compelling marketing campaign that explains to consumers why they should want a Wii U. There’s still time to turn the Wii U around, as the 3DS experience aptly demonstrates.