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How Do Wii U And 3DS Sales Compare To Previous Nintendo Platforms?

Yesterday Nintendo reported its financial results from the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2014. The overall results were rough and the top-selling software list was solid, but nowhere near the stratospheric highs of the previous generation.

We thought it would be interesting to see how sales of the Wii U and 3DS hardware and software stack up against legacy consoles like the Wii, GameCube, DS, and Game Boy Advance. Nintendo provides several years’ worth of this worldwide sales data to the public on its investor relations site. We crunched the numbers to provide a snapshot of how these consoles were performing at the relatively same time in their lifecycle as Wii U and 3DS are now. We also wanted to look at the top five games in each category to see how hit software stacks up individually.

(Click on the images for a closer view)

No one's expecting Wii U to catch up to the heights of the Wii, but the fact that it can't even match the GameCube's numbers is troublesome. If things continue at this rate, Wii U might never make it past 20 million sold. GameCube topped out at 21.74 million lifetime sales, coming in third place behind PlayStation 2 (155 million) and the original Xbox (24 million).

The DS popularized touchscreen gameplay long before everyone was playing them on smartphones. That fact, its massive library of quality games and regularly evolving hardware made the DS Nintendo's most successful console of all time. Comparing the 3DS to the Game Boy Advance shows that, despite consumers' lack of interest in the system's 3D visuals, it's keeping pace, especially considering heavy competition from mobile and tablet gaming.

A lot of the drastic difference shown between the sales of the top Wii and Wii U games is simply due to the markedly lower install base. However, Wii U is also suffering from a lower attach rate (number of games bought per consoles sold) at 5.23 versus the Wii's 6.08 rating at same time in its life cycle.

Over three years in, the top 3DS games are outdone by the DS blockbusters at the same time in its lifecycle, but they're still putting up impressive numbers. Attach rate dropped from the DS' 5.11 at that time to 3DS' 3.76, but Nintendo's current portable slightly edges out the Game Boy Advance's 3.58 rate.

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Despite these stats, Nintendo is determined to turn things around by sticking with its current consoles this E3 and launching a handful of exclusive big guns this year, with Super Smash Bros. leading the way on portable and home consoles.

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