Ben Kuchera, Polygon:
Mario Kart 8’s sales numbers are amazing. The attach rate between the game and the console is something that every console holder should envy, but the problem is that with so few consoles there is a ceiling to the total number of sales Mario Kart 8 can do. Even assuming the game will cause systems to move, it’s likely to be the worst-selling game in the existence of the series.
On the other hand, Watch Dogs is now the best selling new IP in the history of the video game business. It’s very hard to find any apples to match with these oranges; Ubisoft matched a game that was announced in near-perfect fashion with a huge marketing spend and a release that spanned five consoles. The news would be more interesting if the sales didn’t break records.
These two events tell us much about the opportunities in the video game industry right now.
I am a huge fan of Ben Kuchera and his opinions. While I usually agree (at least somewhat), I cannot help but find this one extremely impractical. Though Nintendo is filling a bathtub with buckets rather than a lake with flood-gates, what happened to the argument that software sells hardware?
Global Hardware Totals (in millions) via VGChartz:
Wii U: 6.21
Xbox One: 4.57
Xbox 360: 81.33
To evaluate the total Watch_Dogs market, let’s use the delta between current and prev-gen consoles + countless PCs. That is 151.76+ marketable machines. If this is the case, Ubisoft has successfully sold 4 million units of Watch_Dogs to an install-base of 151.76 million consoles + countless PCs. Nintendo has successfully sold 1.12 millions units of Mario Kart 8 to an install-base of 6.21. That is less-than 2% vs. 18% attach rate.
I actively applaud Ubisoft’s impressive figures but I see the success of Mario Kart 8 greater. Regardless of release date, Wii U unit numbers fall between Xbox One and PS4; Mario Kart 8’s success is only going to grow that number. How quickly that number grows remains to be seen, but early reports are positive.
To add, Ben’s dream of a multi-platform Mario collection release to third-party consoles seems appetizing albeit backwards. We will eventually see the release of the Mario catalog on the Wii U (and possibly 3DS) via the virtual console with added community support with the possibility of updated visuals (don’t cross your fingers). And, assuming Nintendo does not release Mario to third-party consoles, rather than release in a single bulk collection, the fan-base will continue to salivate at the trickling of legacy releases. To be completely forthright, I can’t remember a legacy release that I continued to play after 5-10 hours. Nintendo would be shooting themselves in the foot by releasing an HD legacy collection to Wii U owners let alone third-parties.
Though Nintendo admits they are already looking to the Wii U’s successor, any viable company should have a road map. Giving up the ghost only perpetuates the idea that Nintendo is weak. Instead, Nintendo’s ability to rebound a dire situation” with Mario Kart 8’s abundance of positive press and a phenomenal attach-rate (low install-base aside) should be considered an extremely gargantuan feat, offering a positive outlook on the future of Wii U.
My dream is that Nintendo 180s this dire situation with an impressive uptick in Wii U numbers and continued IP prominence.