Nintendo sold just 960,000 Wii U consoles in 2016

Chris Stead 1 February 2017

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Nintendo's latest financial report shows just how far the Wii U console slid in its final full year on sale.

The struggles of the Wii U have been well documented, but interest in its follow-up console – the Nintendo Switch - remains fever pitch. Nintendo is Nintendo after all, and the company makes amazing games. As it turned out, however, the Wii U hardware wasn’t up to the standard gamers wanted in order to play these great games.

The latest financial report just released by Nintendo says the total worldwide sales of the Wii U as of December 31, 2016 was 13.6 million units. The financial report from the previous year said 12.6 million units of the Wii U had been sold. That means just 960,000 consoles were sold over 2016.

To put that in perspective, third-party global sales tracking data shows the PS3 sold 440,000 units in 2016, and the Xbox 360 307,438 units. These were consoles released 6 and 7 years before the Wii U respectively and long since usurped by follow-up machines.

To be fair to Nintendo, retailers gave up on the console, with our recent report showing that it’s not possible to order a new Wii U in Australia and for many stores, which has been the case for months.

Existing Wii U owners have also shown a decline in interest in the console they already own, with a 44.8% drop in software sales during the final nine months of 2016. This despite the release of Paper Mario: Color Splash, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Star Fox Zero, Pokkén Tournament and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. Not to mention the general Nintendo love that occurred around the Pokémon GO phenomenon.

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There was better news for the Nintendo 3DS, however, with a 9.7% sales bump in the final nine months of 2016, and unit sales through 2016 finishing at 7.36 million units. It was no doubt pushed by the huge success of Pokémon Sun and Moon, which is already the third-biggest-selling game in the handheld’s history, despite being released in November. In total, the 3DS has now sold 65.3 million units worldwide.

That certainly gives hope for the Switch, which – to take a very simplistic view - looks to merge the Wii U and the 3DS into the one device. Together that’s a 79-million-strong potential audience according to these latest figures. Add to that 87 million lapsed Wii owners –see our huge console sales report here - from the generation prior and perhaps the Switch has a good chance of clawing Nintendo back to the top of the sales charts.

The Nintendo Switch will launch on 3 March 3 worldwide. For more on the Switch, read our hands-on, and explore our exhaustive list of games coming to the Switch.

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