While their E3 2008 Press Conference may have seemed a bit lackluster, not providing announcements on any of their major franchises, Nintendo certainly has reason to celebrate this week. The Nintendo Wii gaming console is now the number one selling console in the United States.
Nintendo actually overtook Microsoft’s Xbox 360 last September in worldwide sales. However, as the majority of Xbox 360 sales had taken place in the U.S., they still held the top spot stateside. Now, the NPD says after a stellar June 2008 and only 20 months overall, the Wii is number one.
June 2008 saw U.S. sales of 666,000, clearly indicating a deal with the devil. This brought their total to just shy of 11 million consoles sold. The good news in June didn’t stop there for Nintendo, as six out of the top ten games sold in the U.S. were for Nintendo consoles.
The number one spot being touted here is specifically for home consoles of this generation. The Nintendo DS consistently remains the top selling console overall, including handhelds, and of systems being currently sold, the Playstation 2 remains top dog.
What does all this mean to the average gamer? Well, the average gamer is changing. Soccer moms, grandparents, and college students alike are buying the Wii, as it continues to break the mold of the traditional gamer. Nintendo, this time around, decided not to focus on the male, 18-34 demographic that Sony and Microsoft are locked in fierce battle over. Instead, they have shifted focus to “everyone else,” wanting to bring gaming into the realm of family activity. Just about everyone in America has an anecdote about their nephew, grandma, little sister, or dad playing WiiSports. The fear for Nintendo is that these new gamers would be content with the pack-in and not purchase other games to expand their library. Now we see, with that six out of ten figure, those fears being assuaged. However, games aimed at the aforementioned male 18-34 have been few and far between; yes, some of the big so-called “casual games” like Mario Kart reach that demographic, but it still doesn’t seem to be Nintendo’s focus.
Third party developers are trying to fill the gap, with premier Star Wars titles on the way from LucasArts and Ghostbusters from Red Fly and Sierra, and ports from PC like Sam and Max Season 1. For now, Nintendo can be happy where they are, but to take true control of the gaming market, they’ll want to turn their attention to those core gamers, as well. Sony has started making some moves, though they had some steam taken out of them with Square Enix’s announcement that Final Fantasy XIII is coming to the Xbox 360 simultaneously with the PS3. Wii’ll be watching (sorry, couldn’t resist).