Mario Kart 8 helps Nintendo’s Wii U turn a corner, lifting console sales more than Titanfall or Second Son

Mario Kart 8 - Luigi demonstrates his mid-air death stare

Mario Kart 8 – Luigi demonstrates his mid-air death stare

Could great first-party games be enough to save the Wii U and Nintendo’s bottom line? If the early sales data from Mario Kart 8 is any indication, the chances are looking surprisingly good.

As reported by IGN last week, Mario Kart 8 has sold roughly 2 million copies in less than a month since its May 30 release. So how much of a shot in the arm is this for the Wii U?

wiiuAccording to console sales data from VGChartz, Nintendo was selling an average of about 29,000 Wii U consoles per week prior to Mario Kart 8′s release. The week Mario Kart 8 hit store shelves, over 130,000 Wii U consoles were sold. Even three weeks after the release, sales were still more than double their pre-Luigi-Death-Stare levels. All-told, Mario Kart 8 has sold an additional 207,000 Wii U consoles in just three weeks.

But it gets even more interesting when you compare the Wii U’s big system-seller with the exclusives that have come out in the first half of 2014 on the other two consoles.

March saw the release of both Titanfall for Xbox One and inFAMOUS: Second Son for Playstation 4. The sales boost from Titanfall only lasted two weeks and moved about 94,000 additional Xbox One consoles. The sales boost from the Seattle-set Second Son lasted three weeks and moved an additional 106,000 PlayStation 4 consoles.

2014 Video Game Console System Sellers

In each of the three weeks since the release of Mario Kart 8, the Wii U has outsold Microsoft’s Xbox One—a first since the Xbox One’s November release. As of June 14, Wii U’s global install base sits at 6.4 million compared to 4.6 million for the Xbox One and 8.1 million for the PS4, so Nintendo definitely isn’t out of the race yet.

With the next installment of the major Nintendo fighting franchise Super Smash Bros. coming later this year and an open-world Legend of Zelda (plus many more Nintendo-developed games) coming next year, the Wii U could finally be turning a corner and becoming a serious contender for this generation’s console crown.

  • TuckerThaTruckr

    The knee-jerk response to any positive Wii-U article is always going to be “What about third parties?”, but in this era of endless pop-culture options, I’m fine with using my gaming time on Nintendo consoles playing their games. They focus on fun good gameplay with a rainbow of colors & mostly shy away from trying to tell lame stories in a medium that is ill-suited for them. I just hope they start making $ again soon. Glad things are looking up.

    • Jason J Breeze

      Agreed. U have to get at least 2 of the 3 consoles to get most of the good stuff each generation. After PS4 comes out with something great ill get one but i have to get a Nintendo because their games are great. I was not a fan of Smash Bros series but I know the new one will be of extremely high quality, like MK8.

      • Andrew Sanchez

        I have always loved Nintendo since i was little. but i was shown WoW and ever since ive went the PC route, But Nintendo always has its core franchises that are mostly ALWAYS fantastic

        • teknik1200

          I have a wii u and a gaming pc, both get played. no need for an additional console.

          • ColinZeal

            How are you gonna play Uncharted 4?

          • Andrew Clear

            probably wont see Uncharted 4 til 2016, and by then the PS4 will be 300 dollars. Easy for people to have 2 consoles by then.

          • ColinZeal

            Uncharted 4 has already been confirmed for 2015 – ND never slips their set dates.

          • Matthias Meyer

            but sony often showed pre-rendered stuff that takes companies years to accomplish then after…
            strange how many people forgot killzone and motorstorm..
            last guardian or eight days… never heard of the last one again.

          • ColinZeal

            To be fair, Killzone 2 looked as that video, if not better whilst Motorstorm did not. In the latter case, I don’t remember if they claimed it to be gameplay. And Uncharted 4 has been confirmed by Naughty Dog to be a part of a level already so that’s that. They are masters at their craft – anyone who thinks U4 will look like U3 is delusional…

          • ClassyQuinn

            However, The Last of Us was shown to have incredibly advanced A.I that react to what you do, yet the final game has pretty garbage A.I, showing that even they can lie

      • Kevin Kirby

        oh please, Mario kart sucks, smb sucks same f-ing thing thing it first came out decades ago. Nintendo games suck.

        • bobacdigital

          You are totally alone bro…im a pc gamer and so are 90% of my friends and every single one Of them love kart and smash. Those games come out at any party you are at and they take over.

          Mario kart and smash are the best party games of all time. I took my wii u to a halo lan and everyone stopped playing halo to kart for 6 hours straight. The best part of riding a bike is it’s always fun .. nintendo games captivate like no other.

          Quit being a dick

        • William Todoruk

          Kinda like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Uncharted, God of War, Halo etc etc?

          • ThePokeMaster

            Not really a counter-argument. You’re just agreeing with him then.

    • DecoyOctorok

      I share this sentiment as well. I’m also bored to death with open world third person action games which seems to be the majority of the AAA publishers are churning out this gen.

    • tristanAG

      the third party argument was a lot bigger deal back in the Gamecube days I think. With so many options now, Nintendo fans want nintendo console’s to play nintendo games in my opinion. Obviously if you are buying a console for the third party titles, you will chose ps4 or xbox1

      • Envexa

        I honestly couldn’t care less about the lack of 3rd party support. I only buy games I’m familiar with. And Nintendo is full of those. Besides, most 3rd party games leave a lot to be desired. I’m getting a Wii U for sure!

    • WellWisher

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks video games just aren’t ready as a medium for story telling :)

    • CHiSEEN

      I got my Wii U for it’s first party gold… (You cant say it isn’t. Even if you aren’t a Nintendo fan, its a statistical fact.)

      I got my PS4 for it’s JRPGs… (that will hopefully see a western release)

      Then
      I got my PC for everything else including ‘PC Exclusives’. Why would I want to play a watered
      down 3rd party games on anything else when I can play it on PC and get
      the quality it was meant to have?

      Example: Tomb Raider released a
      “Definitive Edition” for PS4 and XBONE with negligible added content
      and “improved graphics” but it still doesn’t match the graphical
      capability Tomb Raider could reach on my PC last year.

      Current Prices -
      Tomb Raider PS4 XBONE: $60
      Tomb Raider PC: $5

      TL;DR – Wii U was not designed around 3rd party support and there is nothing wrong with that, get over it people!!!

      • killernick

        TR on consoles is $25 not $60

      • Andrew Clear

        I have a PC and consoles, but I prefer consoles. Sure, PCs can always have better specs than a console, but you have to upgrade PCs constantly to keep up with an old console. Main reason for that is the developers, not the hardware.

        Say you bought a PS3 and a PC at the same time. 5 years later, the CoD game that year would look good on the PS3, but you would need to upgrade your PC in order to get it to reach the PS3 quality. I’m tired of developers doing that to us. Reality is, it should still have the quality of the PS3 game without upgrading, and then it should offer better graphics above what the PS3 has (that you need to upgrade for).

        That is just my rant, and why I have both console and pc games. Though, I do prefer controllers over the mouse and keyboard.

        And, you have a point about Tomb Raider. Honestly, I am really disappointed with my PS4. I can’t put my downloaded music, movies, TV shows on it. It doesn’t play my 3D blu rays. The games aren’t even reaching 1080 (unlike my Wii U), and the graphics are better than my PS3, but they aren’t a massive jump like the PS2 to PS3. Hell, so far they are slightly better than a Wii U. I feel that my PS4 really isn’t much of an upgrade over my PS3, and the lack of games this generation is very discouraging.

    • Mark Burley

      Just playing four swords again and loving it nothing yet on ps4 has captured my interest the games just aren’t as much fun but its early days I might get a Wii u for Zelda and Mario kart alone.

    • bigshynepo

      Do you even own a PS4 or a Xbox One?

      “Shy away from trying to tell lame stories in a medium that is ill-suited for them.” except for Zelda, right?

      Just because a company has been historically miserable when it comes to released story-based games, doesn’t mean other developers should be disparaged for trying to do what you claim to be “unfocused and ill-suited”.

      • TuckerThaTruckr

        Zelda & Fire Emblem are two franchises that depend more on story than other Nintendo games(hence the “mostly” you conveniently left off your pull-quote from my comment), but they are a far cry from something like the MGS series, which plenty of people obviously like & I have zero interest in.

        If it makes you feel better, gamers like me are obviously in the minority right now and going forward but we still exist as evidenced by the people agreeing w/ my comment. I would rather watch a movie or read a hundred pages of a book than watch a ninety minute cutscene. Fortunately for me Nintendo still caters to people who want 95%+ of their gaming time to be spent interacting with the game instead of watching.

        In my opinion, Videogames are the weakest medium for storytelling when compared to books, TV & movies, all of which I have a huge backlog of & all of which I enjoy as much or more than games.

        The good news is there are consoles for both of our interests. I think Nintendo is on a software hot streak comparable to anything in their history. I’m just glad they mostly gave up on motion controls.

      • Andrew Clear

        Splatoon seems pretty creative.

        • bigshynepo

          It does seem pretty creative but the IP doesn’t propel a single character into the limelight. I’d say the Wonderful 101 guy (who’s name escapes me) is the closest to a new character IP that Nintendo was responsible for.

          I am eager to get more hands on time with splatoon but I feel it may lack the magic that makes Team Fortress or Super Smash Bros so replayable.

    • dakan45

      Yeah fruity, kiddie crap. And I bet you’re agrown man, liking this stuff. Nintendo fanboys are just weird. Out of the loop.

      • TuckerThaTruckr

        Guilty as charged.

    • Aiddon

      I wouldn’t mind the stories if they weren’t so lame. Good plots are nothing new to gaming (some of my favorites being Tactics Ogre, Vagrant Story, Xenogears, Chrono Cross, and FF’s IV-VII), but there are just too many of these wannabe auteurs acting like putting a story into a game is something new and groundbreaking when in fact it’s been around for decades. Game designers really need to remove the stick from their ass.

    • ThePokeMaster

      Probably because many positive Wii U/Nintendo articles like this tend to compare with the other two.

      “lame stories…”
      Aw, you ruined it. It was a decent comment up until you showed your true colors.
      “…in a medium that is ill-suited for them”
      That’s not what most non-biased people have been saying. Sorry.

  • Mark

    Wii u is at 6.7 consoles sold. Not 6.3

    • http://timandjeni.com/ Timothy Ellis

      Sorry, didn’t specify in my post but all numbers are as of 6/14, so a couple weeks old.

      • Frank Papageorgio

        You’re using VGChartz as your source, so you might as well be making up numbers like they do.

        • http://timandjeni.com/ Timothy Ellis

          The VGChartz data puts Mario Kart 8 sales at 1.6 million through 06/14, which is more or less in-line with Nintendo’s stated sales figure of 2 million through 06/26. Granted they’re not the gospel truth but I don’t see any reason to believe that they’re not in the general ballpark of reality.

          As long as their methodologies are consistent over time and across the various consoles (which they are), these kinds of comparisons are perfectly legitimate.

          If you’ve got a more authoritative source of weekly sales numbers for all the consoles, please feel free to share it!

          • Frank Papageorgio

            VGChartz is in no way authoritative because they are “in-line”. As a journalist, you should understand this.

            They blatantly make up number. There is a big different when they say a game sold 150K it’s first week, but it really sold 75K when the publisher makes a press release. How can they be off by that much with this early data, yet still be “in-line”?

            They are especially bad for new release data unless it’s coming from a press release. They will quietly update their numbers when official statements are made, but sometimes do not even do that.

            Mario Kart 8 did have two sale data releases. One after the initial weekend with 1.2 million sold, and another at the shareholders meeting at the end of June announcing over 2 million. VGChartz does not even reflect THAT.

            Media Crate and Famitsu report weekly sales for retail software/hardware in Japan, and for two independent organizations, they are always VERY close to each other with what they esetimate. VGChartz japanese numbers can by wildly off from the other two companies. Media Crate/Famitsu at least have some actual data about the Wii U outselling the PS4 in Japan recently, though the Vita is still beating the Wii U on some weeks.

            http://gematsu.com/tag/media-create-sales

            NDP Group publishes data on a monthly basis for the states, and actually uses point-of-sale data to do it as well as a variety of other methods. They will not release numbers to the public, but they release numbers to those that buy a report. The big 3 will use these numbers for press releases. Sometimes these numbers will leak online from those insiders that have access. Sometimes you have publishers announcing how many copies of their game sold, and with NDP’s top 10 list of selling software, you can sort of fill in the blanks and estimate how much a game sold based it being in between two other games.

            Nintendo is fairly open about their numbers, using a combination of digital sales and shipped to retailers, but only update it on a quarterly basis. It is the most accurate sales data we have, because it accounts for eShop sales.

            http://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/index.html

            Any stat tracking organization still cannot track online sales from digital eShops, because the big three guard those numbers closely since only they have access to them. VGChartz will use estimate based on simply adding on to the other sales data based on what percentage of games are typically sold digitally, maybe upping it for a big release if their numbers are not in line.

            And this is not even accounting for hardware conversions from software, which is the main point of your article. Nintendo has released some data in IR events based on Club Nintendo surveys. Basically, if a person registers a game within 7 days of registering their system on Club Nintendo, they consider that a hardware conversion.

            Mario Kart Wii was a game that sold a lot of hardware compared to other games. They reported that 37% of all Mario Kart Wii sales in the first 79 weeks caused a person to buy a Wii.

            http://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/library/events/100129/05.html

            Using more than just VGChartz would give your article a lot more credibility.

          • Andrew Clear

            VGChartz doesn’t track game downloads, which Nintendo took into account for the 2 million. While VGChartz isn’t 100% accurate, they are close. Furthermore, you can use the Japanese charts (which both of them vary slightly from each other each week) and NPD to verify VGChartz’ numbers. Just saying. It is a good measuring stick, and while not 100% accurate, it is still close.

            In the end, it doesn’t matter. Only fanboys would argue against the validity of what the author of this article is stating. But, everyone knew Mario Kart would sell systems. Mario Kart is the bigger franchise of the 3, and should move systems better than the other 2 titles.

          • Frank Papageorgio

            Seeing this comment 10 days later…

            I guess my whole point is that VGChartz website blatantly makes up data. The author of this piece justifies using it because basically no other source posts weekly sales data. Well yeah, no other source does it because the data doesn’t exist

            For example, I could start VidGameSalez.com and offer DAILY sales charts. If a company announced that Game X sold 1 million copies within the first 10 days of release, I could just make wild estimates and say that these were the daily sales.

            Day 1: 256,487
            Day 2: 152,365
            Day 3: 128,654
            Day 4: 100,654
            Day 5: 101,248
            Day 6: 76,254
            Day 7: 60,548
            Day 8: 50,054
            Day 9: 50,027
            Day 10: 25,548
            10 Day Total: 1,001,839

            By no means is that data accurate by any means. I just made that data up. Just because I am the only site that offers daily sales charts by no means makes me an authority. Just because I have been posting this data for X years by no means makes me an authority. Just because I’ve been using the same estimation tactics that roughly makes this data in line with the actual released sales data does not make this data accurate.

            It’s just ridiculous to write an article based on weekly sales data when the data does not exist.

  • Bernadet Gnuyen

    mario kart is awesome man who ever dosent buy this game is just dumb its tons of fun!! I am starting the cups on 150CC right now!!

  • Bernadet Gnuyen

    Nintendo has lots of third party coming to the U watch dogs, devils third, bayonetta 2 with bayonnetta 1 included in it, COD, Assansssins creed, splinter cell black list, deux X, Mass Effect and much more all which are stellar games

    • DecoyOctorok

      I’m more excited for Bayonetta 2 than anything else coming out on the other consoles this year. In fact, I’ll probably hold off on getting a PS4 for at least another year when Metal Gear Solid V is out.

      • Jason J Breeze

        Same boat. Metal Gear Solid is what made me buy PS3… probably gonna work the same for PS4. Till then Bayonetta 2 includes Bayonetta 1 :-) Gotta love that

    • killernick

      bayonetta 2 is going to f***ing wild, cant wait!!

  • Stephen Severino

    There are also a number of games people leave out of the discussion. I love Wii Fit U, and Wii Sports Club just got even better with the introduction of boxing and baseball. Splatoon also looks like a blast (double entendre intended).

    • WellWisher

      Ew…..I like to pretend those ‘games’ don’t exist. Apart from Splatoon. That looks awesome.

      • Jason J Breeze

        Had Wii Sports Club been giving AAA release treatment it would be mentioned among the best games. Its a quality title, basically an online/HD version of the Wii’s killer app. Unfortunately it was (inexcusably) not a launch title, given very little hype (unlike mario kart) and was released in pieces.

        I loved golf and boxing on Wii and i bought the new golf but waiting for boxing i lost interest. Just extremely poor execution of something that should have been so simple.

  • 5aga

    “Even three weeks after the release, sales were still more than double their pre-Luigi-Death-Stare levels.”

    - love the reference -

  • http://www.shopmost.co.uk Nick

    mario kart 8 for the win. go nintendo.

  • andy

    Hopefully it will help. After all this years E3 has been the Wii U’s FOURTH time at the event. Oh dear.

  • brianc6234

    Even Mario won’t save the disaster that is the Wii U.

    • http://www.Spiele-Maschine.de www.Spiele-Maschine.de

      than look at japanese sale figures of the new sony equivalent.

  • DLConspiracy

    Mario Kart is SO OVERRATED, its not even funny. But what I find even funnier is how Infamous helped sell more PS4′s than TF did. According to the MS fanboys, it was going to make a huge difference. Anyways, MK is yesterdays game with last gens graphics. Nintendo fanboys are the most pathetic.

  • Aiddon

    I do find it funny how after MK8 and Nintendo’s amazing E3 coverage people are starting to realize “man, we really were a bunch of drama queens with the ‘Nintendo is doomed’ business, weren’t we?” You’d think after three instances of that with the DS, the Wii, and the 3DS people would have learned by now. Plus it looks like from September onward Nintendo is going to go nuts with their first party titles.

    • Reason Freeman

      And I think its funny how you believe that nonsense when the system is barely selling. Fanboys are dumb.

    • David

      I personally find it funny how people looked at Nintendos E3 and figured “well, lets polish this turd and say they won”. Sure, they showed off THQ’s leavings, a downloadable arena shooter you could make in half a day on Unity and another goddamn Mario Spinoff, but Nintendo fans say they won!

      • Aiddon

        -holds up doll- Show me where Nintendo touched you.

  • David

    PFFTHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Oh man, this is priceless. You actually let that image out? The one that shows the Ps4 and Xbox One having higher sales every single week than the WIiU, even showing that at the heigth of its sales incease it couldn’t match the Ps4′s lowest sales, showing that it will never stop being ground into the dust, and you think that shows it could improve?

  • David

    And look! You actually cited VGChartz, a site that admits that all of its numbers are made up! Oh, this is adorable.

  • DealMeIn

    It’s nice to see the impact a game can have on sales.

    I think there was a pent up “want” for something…anything….that current Wii U owners could buy on the software side that was good. However, like many “older” gamers, I too want to put a Wii U beside my PS4 and, specifically, only because of Mario Kart 8. Yet, at $300″ish” dollars, I’m not about to spend that much cash for one game (or, to play basically other games that I’ve player already on previous Nintendo hardware). Clearly, MK8 did encourage some to buy hardware.

    I have a price of what it’ll be worth to me to play this gem and, until that price happens, I’ll wait…no matter how long.

  • YNA

    Let’s put things into perspective by using real numbers from Media Create and not from vgchartz which are a bunch of lies and made up numbers:

    MK8′s Launch Week (week 22 of 2014): Wii U – 19.312 units sold

    Pikmin 3′s Launch Week (week 28 of 2013): Wii U – 22.199 units sold

    ONTO THE SECOND WEEK:

    >Media Create Sales Week 29 2013 – SECOND Week Pikmin 3 was out:

    Wii U – 14.280 units sold

    >Media Create Sales Week 23 2014 – SECOND Week Mario Kart 8 was out:

    Wii U – 13,766 units sold

    Mario Kart 8 had a lower effect on Wii U sales than fucking Pikmin 3 did in Japan, that is fucking hilarious.

    The situation in EU is even worse and NA’s current market share cake is being devoured by the PS4 and XB1

    The Wii U is dead.

    Sources:

    http://gematsu.com/2014/06/media-create-sales-52614-6114
    http://gematsu.com/2014/06/media-create-sales-6214-6814
    http://gematsu.com/2013/07/media-create-sales-7813-71413
    http://gematsu.com/2013/07/media-create-sales-71513-72113

  • Bernadet Gnuyen

    At this point and after E3 there’s no point in buying a PS4 ornX1 there wontbbe any games coming for those consoles until about 2 more years!!! And for their price your much better off buying a gaming laptop or PC cause everyone knows PC out classes any console bough said for third party PC is better its always been now with steam even better

  • Bernadet Gnuyen

    Nintendo are just getting started. WiiU is now getting some attention at last and is by far the best kept gaming secret. It’s not underpowered and just needs to be learnt and programmed for. It’s a powerhouse of a machine and MK8 is a demonstration of this and DKCTF, not to mention SM3DW … It’s a awesome bit of kit. It looks like the Japanese can look through all the PS4 hype, with WiiU destroying it!! WiiU just keeps on selling better and better