With Eurogamer publishing a damning report yesterday on Nintendo’s hardware sales figures, according to VGChartz, Sony’s PS Vita has finally outsold Nintendo’s Wii U worldwide, with the figures stated below:
14.30m – Sony PS Vita
13.36m – Nintendo Wii U
It’s no secret that both hardware platforms have struggled since launch. But what’s interesting is that despite Sony having not actively supported its handheld with first party titles since October 2015, the PS Vita still enjoys third-party support, and has a healthy amount of physical releases in the West to this day – with Limited Run Games, PQube and Marvelous regularly putting out games on a semi regular basis. In contrast however, the Wii U only has 2 titles coming out this year (not counting Nintendo Selects re-releases) – with Paper Mario: Color Splash and Skylanders Imaginators padding out a ridiculously barren release schedule.
That’s a pretty shameful release schedule, regardless of how one looks at it. So with Nintendo’s lack of momentum taken into account, it will be interesting to see as to whether the company is able to turn things around with its forthcoming hybrid NX next year – although I personally doubt it, given the lack of consumer mind-share the company currently enjoys within the console marketplace today – with the Wii U selling just 220,000 units during the three months up to the end of June 2016, Nintendo’s first quarter of its 2017 financial year.
Part of the blame for Wii U’s low sales lies on the hardware’s increasingly ridiculous pricing, especially in relation to what Microsoft’s XBox One and Sony’s PS4 can be picked up for now, as the console still retails for around £230 (with a pack-in game). But part of the blame also lies in the fact that despite Nintendo’s stellar reputation as a dependable software powerhouse, the company has only managed a pitiful Metacritic average of 7.46 across all of its published titles during 2016. Compare this with Sony however who, whilst having published less titles during the same period (as they can rely on third party support to bolster software release calendars), have a superior Metacritic average of 7.72.
To be fair to Nintendo’s Wii U however, the console did launch on 18 November 2012, thus giving the PS Vita nearly a one year head-start when it launched on 17 December 2011. But even when taking this into account, and if the mantra of “software sells hardware” is correct, then it’s hard to conceive as to how the NX will be a success when its parent company can no longer be depended on to provide stellar software titles. Indeed, as the jewel in Nintendo’s crown, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild failed to meet my expectations (when I saw it running at Gamescom) as it looked painfully average whilst running at sub-30 fps on the Wii U. Taking the game in context of the competition however, where titles like Elder Scrolls Skyrim Special Edition and The Witcher 3 positively beat it in terms of presentation, then one can only imagine as to how hard it will be for Nintendo to convince gaming audiences that they’re a company that people can still bank on.