Let's be honest: the Wii U hasn't been much of a success for Nintendo.
While it'd be nearly impossible to replicate the success of the Wii U's predecessor, no one expected Nintendo's latest console to flounder like it has. That's not to say that the Wii U is a bad console — it just hasn't taken off as anticipated. To put it simply, the last few years have been tough for Nintendo and its consoles.
Thankfully, Nintendo's fortunes may finally be turning around: the company is reporting its best Q1 sales since 2012 — way before the Wii U had even launched. It's big news for the company: while investors were predicting yet another Q1 loss, Nintendo actually managed to earn roughly 90 billion yen (approximately $727 million) in sales.
So where did this sudden boost in sales come from? It's simple: Splatoon and Amiibo.
First up is Splatoon: while it's true that the game had quite a bit of momentum heading into launch, no one thought Nintendo's shooter would do this well. The game has moved over 1.6 million units since launch — that's more than a third of Nintendo's Wii U software sales. It's huge, especially for a new IP on a console that relatively few people own — and it only gets better from there.
Amiibo have proven to be an absolute goldmine for Nintendo: a combination of rabid demand and scarce stocks have kept the tiny plastic figurines going strong. Nintendo's made it clear that Amiibo aren't going anywhere anytime soon, either — expect to see these minuscule action figures popping up for years to come.
In all honesty, Nintendo is still in a bit of a rough spot. Sales in 2012 weren't exactly great, with the original Wii's momentum grinding to a halt as Nintendo prepped the Wii U for launch. Plus, while overall sales are up, Wii U hardware sales are down from this time last year — not exactly a good sign for the console, especially if Nintendo is already starting to focus on the NX.
The higher-than-usual sales are nevertheless a sign of improvement — but Nintendo's still got a long ways to go before it even starts to catch up with Sony and Microsoft's next-gen consoles.