During the late '90s, when Nintendo's console was failing and
its handheld was thriving, Hiroshi Yamauchi (the company's
president) reportedly told the Japanese press that the only game
Nintendo needed was Pokemon. While his comments -- which
cannot be found
on Google (NASDAQ:
) -- may have sounded a little crass at the time (particularly when
the PlayStation sold
three times as many
units as Nintendo 64), it wasn't hard to overestimate the
importance of Pokemon. It was, after all, the company's newest star
Every game in the series has sold more than six million copies.
Pokemon Black and White Version 2, which is only a few months old,
has already sold
6.14 million units
. Pokemon Platinum, a remake of one of the existing games, sold
7.52 million units
. Pokemon Red, Blue and Green sold a combined total of
more than 31 million units
The Pokemon offshoots -- such as Pokemon Ranger -- have sold a
couple million units each each. Even the quirky and childish (but
surprisingly addictive) Pokemon Snap managed to sell
3.63 million units
Very few games have been able to consistently achieve these
numbers over a 15-year span. Aside from the Mario and Zelda games
(which are released less frequently than Pokemon) and Final
Fantasy, no game can compete with Pokemon. Electronic Arts'
) cash cows -- Madden and FIFA -- are fierce contenders, but they
are no Pokemon. Activision's (NASDAQ:
) Call of Duty franchise currently sells more units annually than
any other game, but the series is too new to compare to Nintendo's
By releasing a multitude of Pokemon games, Nintendo was able to
sell millions of Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and
Game Boy Advance SP units. Without these systems, Nintendo would
not have been able to maintain its enormous profit margins in the
late '90s and beyond. It was the success of those handhelds -- and
later the Nintendo DS, the company's most successful game system --
that enabled Nintendo to overcome the setbacks of N64 (which sold
33 million units
) and GameCube (which could only sell
21.7 million units
). Nintendo used its handhelds -- particularly the Nintendo DS --
to restore consumers' faith in the company's products. This enabled
Nintendo to stage a major comeback with the original Wii, which
sold three times as many units as the N64, and more than four times
as many units as GameCube.
Nintendo's winning streak ended the moment the Nintendo 3DS was
released, marking the company's first flop since the Virtual Boy
was released. Coincidentally, both systems were heavily promoted as
next-generation devices that could deliver a three-dimensional
gaming experience. In both cases, consumers were more interested in
playing quality games than they were in seeing 3D images. This
created a problem for the Virtual Boy as well as the Nintendo 3DS,
as neither platform launched with a good game.
The Wii U, Nintendo's latest console, is in a moderately better
position. New Super Mario Bros. Wii U (one of the system's launch
titles) is a hit with
and consumers. It has already sold more than
copies, indicating that more than 50 percent of the people who buy
Wii U are also picking up the new Mario game.
NintendoLand, which comes packaged with the premium edition of
Wii U, is the only game that has
sold more units
It is all downhill from there, however. ZombiU, the next most
successful Wii U game, has only managed to sell
. Darksiders II, the most recent game from bankrupt publisher THQ
), has only sold
on Wii U.
Nintendo has yet to announce its summer or fall lineup of Wii U
games, so it is impossible to gauge how well the system will
perform in 2013. Based on the current lineup (which includes a
delay of Pikmin 3 from March to May), things are not looking good
This leaves the Nintendo 3DS -- which has already sold
more units than GameCube
-- as the company's most likely success story.
The real question is whether or not Pokemon X and Y -- the newly
announced games built exclusively for Nintendo 3DS -- can boost
hardware sales when they are released this fall.
"I'm seriously considering getting a 3DS for this," one
consumer, whose username is Platysaur, wrote on
"I have been playing since the very first game, no reason to
stop now," KillerAura wrote.
"Only game I've ever bought a Nintendo hand held for," another
consumer, Josh, wrote. "Didn't get the last one though, kind of
tired of it. They need to shake it up more and make it a little
less kid-focused. I wouldn't be surprised if the audience isn't
children anymore. Fans have grown."
"For me Pokemon died after Emerald," Codyeo wrote. He added that
while he never made the jump to the DS sequels, X and Y have piqued
his interest. "Whenever my little sister gets them I might have to
check em' out," he wrote.
, fans echoed these sentiments.
"I'm 27 now, and haven't played a Pokemon game since
Gold/Silver, and I'll very likely be buying a 3DS and either
version of this game," drchimz falcon_punch87 wrote. "I've been
waiting for a proper 3D Pokemon since there were rumors it was
going to be on the GameCube many, many moons ago."
reader is a bit concerned about Nintendo's decision to announce the
game this week instead of waiting for the Electronic Entertainment
Expo in June.
"Is it just me, or is it really unusual for Nintendo to announce
games nine months before the release date?" he questioned. "(Well,
Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but that was supposed to come out four
months after Reggie announced it, and then it got delayed twice to
reach nine months.
"Everybody is going to be focused on X, Y and the 3DS all year.
Nintendo needs to do something big to get the Wii U some
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice.
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