The launch of Nintendo’s 3DS is now complete in major markets. Starting with the Japanese launch, that already seems like quite a while ago, back on 26th February it then arrived in Europe on 25th March, North America on the 27th and finally Australia on the 31st.
We have heard a mix of opinions on how well the launch has gone for Nintendo relative to their other recent consoles. The launch period sales figures for the U.S., Japan, Europe, U.K. and Australia have been revealed for the 3DS so we can do a direct comparison against the original DS and the Wii.
Because of the timing of the launches and release of the sales data, across the different regions we are looking at slightly different amounts of time. For the U.S, the data covers the first eight or nine days of sales which is the time from launch until the monthly NPD data is released.
With Japan’s sales data coming out weekly and Nintendo launching in the home territory on a Saturday, the numbers cover just the first two days of sales. With the Friday release in Europe the numbers are for the first three days and finally, Australia saw a Thursday release so its numbers cover the first four days.
Despite an extensive search, there is one number we have been unable to find, the launch sales for the DS in Europe. All we have been able to discover is that it sold around 500,000 in the first two weeks so that one data point is missing.
Without further ado here is the graph demonstrating the comparative launch performance of the three Nintendo consoles.
Yes, the U.S. numbers for the 3DS are actually reported as being “just shy of 400,000” but that is hard to show when we are trying to be empirical so as the U.S. figures for the Wii and DS were given only to the nearest 100,000 we have rounded up those for the 3DS.
The expectation going into this article was that there would be a clear global trend of whether the 3DS had received a warmer welcome than the original model of the DS, but as you can see that is not the case. In both the U.S. and Japan the DS sold more than the 3DS, a situation which was reversed in the U.K. and Australia.
Given the market conditions that the 3DS has launched into and the absence on release day of the big Nintendo franchises its numbers are certainly comparatively respectable. When the DS launched in 2004/2005 and the Wii in 2006 the video game market was still growing in volume and value towards its 2007/2008 peak, a growth that those two consoles would prove instrumental in driving.
Turning our focus to our local U.K. figures it is perhaps surprising that the 3DS outsold the other two consoles at launch as it was the most expensive of the three. The original DS débuted at £99 and the Wii at £179. Nintendo chose, perhaps as a reaction to the current weakness of many European economies, not to set a retail price and instead allow retailers to decide.
This meant that while the prices in other territories would have suggested a cost of around £229 for the 3DS, competition among retailers meant that few, if any, would have handed over as much money as that. Personally I paid £187 in the end for my 3DS from an online retailer and that seemed to be a price point many retailers settled on.
The price picture changes slightly if we adjust the launch prices according to the inflation we have experienced here in the U.K. The cost of the original DS rises from £99 to £115 and the Wii from £179 to £202. So the deep discounting by retailers on the 3DS’ price means that in real terms many will have found it cheaper than the Wii was at launch. (Of course current Wii bundles can be found for £100 now, the same price as a DSi.)
On the face of it the 3DS looks to have enjoyed quite a strong launch around the world, perhaps not as strong as we and Nintendo were led to believe based on pre-order levels, but comparatively respectable. While its sales have seemingly fallen away quite sharply in the subsequent weeks it will be interesting to see just how large an impact the release of titles like Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 3D have on 3DS sales.
Should they fail to stimulate sales then it may become valid to ask questions of the 3DS, but that is not very likely. Is it?