For eight consecutive years, Nintendo made the world's best-selling gaming consoles. Not anymore. Sony's PlayStation 4 became a big hit and contributed to the almost 19 million consoles sold by Sony in the last fiscal year, effectively dethroning Nintendo as the most loved console maker.
The last time Sony sold the highest number of video game systems was in 2005. However, in its latest earnings report, Sony said the company sold a total of 18.7 million PlayStation systems compared to the 16.3 million Wii U touchscreen consoles sold in the same year. The figures also included budget video game systems PlayStation 3 and the original Wii.
While the overall video game console market has seen a decline in recent months due to the rapid growth of smartphone games, Sony's PlayStation 4 remains to be the most popular next-generation console since it was introduced in November last year, when it amassed more than 1 million sales on its first day. By the first week of the following month, the figure has doubled to 2.1 million units. It finished off the year with 4.2 million in sales and continued to grow to 7 million by the end of March this year. Still, sales for the last year were on a 20% slump after the gaming market's not-so-hot reception of PlayStation 3.
By contrast, Nintendo went on to see a 31% decrease in sales, while Microsoft, which sold only 11.6 million Xbox consoles in the same period, experienced a 16% increase in sales particularly due to the November release of its flagship Xbox One console.
"Nintendo continues to be in a tough spot as sales of Nintendo Wii U remain soft," says Arvind Bhatia, analyst at Sterne Agee. "Nintendo may choose to lower the price of its Wii U console (from $300 to $250) in an attempt to spur sales but until it can get strong IP on the platform, consumers are unlikely to respond."
The news, which was first reported by Japanese news website Nikkei, comes hot on the heels of Nintendo's announcement that it will be laying off 130 employees at its Grossotheim office and warehouse in Bavaria, Germany due to "outsourcing and reorganizing." Nintendo also reported [pdf] a net loss of 23.2 billion yen, or approximately $225 million, in the last fiscal year.
However, Nintendo does hold a powerful ace in its, hands, that is, "Mario Kart 8," which has already sold 1.2 million copies since its roll-out last week. Hailed the gold standard of video games, Nintendo's eighth installment of its record-breaking "Super Mario Kart" titles will most likely not win back the top spot for Nintendo, but as we can see from its more-than-robust opening weekend, Mario and Luigi are poised to drive Wii U sales for Nintendo in the coming weeks.