Is there a Nintendo (OTCMKTS:NTDOY) cult?
Yes -- and I mean that in an entirely affectionate way.
Nintendo fans tend to be a fiercely loyal bunch, built on an attachment to the company's highly imaginative franchises like Mario and Zelda .
If you don't believe me, check out the comments on this negative Nintendo article I wrote back on June 13.
And then read the comments on my June 27 flip-flop .
Big difference, huh?
But think about this fact: The Nintendo audience was fractured during Sony's ( SNE ) heyday back in the Sony PlayStation 1 and 2 days. It came back with a vengeance during the Nintendo Wii/DS era, but seemed to die down as sales slowed, and as its follow-ups -- the Wii U and 3DS -- disappointed.
So the people who have stuck by Nintendo through all these ups and downs are some serious diehards, and they're quick to defend the company.
And now, it looks like that crew is getting their day in the sun as sales of the 3DS are going through the roof.
I walked through the initial signs of the boom on June 27:
During the E3 conference earlier in June, Nintendo said that the release of the best-selling and critically acclaimed Animal Crossing: New Leaf boosted US 3DS sales by four times versus the prior week, and also set a new digital sales record for the company.VGChartz, which provides estimates of video-game hardware andsoftware sales, estimated that global 3DS sales were 124K for the week ending June 8, spiking to 265K the next week. In the US, sales went from to 31K to 97K. That's a threefold increase, which isn't all that far off from Nintendo's comments.
Which brings us to today's news about NPD's release of June US video game sales estimates.
NPD said that 225,000 3DS units were sold in the US, up 42% year over year, driven by the blockbuster Animal Crossing: New Leaf , which moved 505,000 units. Total software unit sales were up nearly 105%, as AC:NL was complemented by ongoing strength in Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon.
In a press release, Nintendo said that over the first six months of 2013 -- remember, this time period includes a weak start to the year -- Nintendo sold 3.6 million first-party games (meaning Nintendo properties). That's an 85% year-over-year increase.
Additionally, Nintendo said that AC:NL was tracking strongly in July, which could mean yet another great month, which flows into August, which has another likely big seller in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team .
On the negative side, there wasn't any mention of Wii U sales, though it's accepted, and thus likely priced into the stock, that the Wii U is not selling well at all.
The big hope is that upcoming Zelda, Donkey Kong , and Mario titles will kick the Wii U into high gear, the same way that the 3DS was boosted by its aforementioned string of hits.
But since the consensus is that the upcoming Microsoft ( MSFT ) Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 are going to decimate the Wii U, I would regard the Wii U just doing okay as a home run for the stock.
History is indeed repeating itself.
Nintendo has been declared dead every time it's been down and out, but with the 3DS, it's proven once again that you can never count it out.