Nintendo’s lost battle in the UK

In continental Europe, especially here in France, many people keep believing in Nintendo despite its waning business and influence. On the other side of the Channel though, things are quite different as Nintendo is being ousted pretty much.

My good friends of Vgchartz have found this very informative chart comparing January-February in 2013-2014 software sales.

In units at first, the situation doesn’t seem that bad. 3DS games sales progress by one third and WiiU games sales double. But when putting things into perspective, the business is definitely not that rosy…

WiiU benefited from the release of Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze in February, and has nothing in the following months. In 2013, games came in March-April, so WiiU software should be flattish until Mario Kart 8, which will collide with a more ambitious and innovative, WatchDogs. 3DS is even worse. The release schedule is nearly blank : Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney and the traditional Nintendo rehashes. Shin Megami Tensei IV is even more invisible than the Malaysian plane. 3DS software is unlikely to perform as well as Luigi’s Mansion, Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing did last year. Here again, it should end up flat or declining.

Let’s get into hard facts and figures. First thing that comes to mind : PS4 and XboxOne sell each more software than 3DS despite being fresh on the market. While a lot fanboy journalists (at least here in France) keep babbling about 3DS «domination», it’s obviously very different in the real world : since January, 3DS games have been bogged down in the depth of the UK charts, when they’re not kicked by the vigorous line-up of competing systems. The Sony family sells 1’338’000 games (3 systems), Xbox family sells 1’487’000 on only 2 systems, whereas the large Nintendo family (4 systems) sells only 649’000. This is almost three time less than the others despite more active platforms. 

In value, the beating is harder still : PS4 or XboxOne each generate more revenues than the entire Nintendo family! The Kyoto-based firm is in a sort of scissors crisis : WiiU and 3DS progression is big enough in value to compensate the collapsing Wii/DS market. Nintendo make up for only 13,5% of the UK’s game market. Down from already not-so-stellar 16,4% in the same perio lest year. Sony’s or Microsoft’s market share is four times as big, with less active systems. The Japanese manufacturer has long bet on scale economies, setting lower prices to attract the most customers. But when price-demand elasticity doesn’t work anymore, such strategy leads to financial disaster.

The lost battle of England might be the first of a long series for Nintendo. British players punish the lack of renewal, outdated visuals, lack of ambition, broken promises and casual focus. How much time before France, Italy, Germany and the rest of Europe gets fed up with ever-identical rehashes? How long before the casual market dries up like in the UK? Iwata should get to work, clock is ticking.


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