We’ll start with the obligatory caveat: VGChartz is a controversial website. Any sales numbers taken from the site should, for a variety of reasons, be taken with a grain of salt. The numbers presented below should be viewed as estimates rather than hard data.
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That being said, VGChartz’ weekly global sales figures for the week ending Dec. 21st place Nintendo’s Wii U one spot ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox One. The Wii U sold 319,860 units globally according to VGChartz, while the Xbox One sold just 307,366.
Notably, the Xbox One is still not for sale in Japan. But Microsoft has never mounted much of a threat in that region. (According to the below chart, the PSP sold nearly 9,000 units in Japan, while the Xbox 360 sold a paltry 688, lower than any other system currently for sale in the region. There is little reason to believe the Xbox One will change this.)
While the Wii U does appear to have some new legs this holiday season following the release of Super Mario 3D World, the real holiday power-houses are Nintendo’s 3DS handheld system and Sony’s PS4, with 1.07m units and 656,655 units sold respectively.
But even the Xbox 360 and PS3 outsold the Wii U and Xbox One during the major shopping week before Christmas according to these estimates.
I’m not sure if this bodes well for the Wii U, or ill for the Xbox One. One week of sales data—or sales estimates—can only provide so much insight.
Certainly the Wii U has a better stockpile of exclusive video games at this point than either of its major rivals’ next-gen systems, and enjoys a price-point well below either the PS4 ($100 less) or the Xbox One ($200 less) making it an attractive holiday purchase.
But analysts remain dubious about the Wii U’s sales prospects. Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter doubts the system will top 20m units by 2016.
“This is how it goes,” says Pachter. “We expect Sony’s and Microsoft’s new consoles to thrive over the next three years, with cumulative worldwide sales of 37.7 million PS4 and 29 million Xbox One consoles by year-end 2016. We do not expect Nintendo’s Wii U to fare as well, with cumulative sales of under 20 million by 2016.”
The Wii U is a peculiar animal. I’ve sounded doubts and praise for the system, which I believe has both great potential and absolutely terrible marketing, and may yet surprise us all in the end. If Nintendo can really come through with must-have exclusive content, the Wii U might start catching up with its cousin, the 3DS, which itself was something of a surprise.
2014 should be an interesting year for all three systems, as we see the next-gen race really take off. I suspect that by next New Years Eve we’ll have a much clearer portrait of where the console wars are headed. My best guess: The 3DS will still be the system to beat.
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