Splatoon Sells 4 Million, Shows That "New" is Nintendo's Best Bet

Splatoon Sells 4 Million, Shows That "New" is Nintendo's Best Bet

Nintendo's non-violent shooter found its way into the homes of one-third of all Wii U owners.

Today, Nintendo announced the results of its financial earnings report for the third quarter of fiscal year 2015. Total sales stayed rather flat year-over-year, dropping 3.9 percent to 427.7 billion yen ($3.5 billion), but profits saw a steeper 32 percent decline to 40.5 billion yen ($336 million). Not a great year, but certainly not a bad one either.

Where does Nintendo spend all that money?

Sales for Wii U hardware reached 3.06 million during the period, pushing the Wii U's lifetime sales to 12.6 million. The Amiibo lineup is still a huge moneymaker for Nintendo, selling 20.5 million Amiibo figures and 21.5 million Amiibo cards. Regardless of what happens with the NX, you can be sure that Nintendo won't be leaving Amiibo behind.

Software sales for the period.

More importantly, Nintendo released its sales figures for software during the nine-month period. The big winner was Splatoon, Nintendo's family-friendly shooter! The game sold 4.06 million during the reporting period, making it the best-performing first party exclusive and Nintendo's biggest title. Other solid performers include Super Mario Maker with 3.34 million sold, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer with 2.93 million sold, and Mario Kart 8 still holding on with 2.13 million sold, bringing its overall total to 7.24 million copies sold.

Splatoon continues Nintendo's trend of introducing brand-new concepts that take off. On the Nintendo DS, Nintendogs and Brain Age absolutely cleaned up in sales, selling 23.96 million and 19.01 million (for the first game) respectively. The entire "Wii" lineup, from Wii Sports, to Wii Sports Resort, and Wii Play, sold more than 20 million copies each, with the exception of Wii Party, which only sold 9.15 million. The 3DS introduced Tomodachi Life, which went on to sell 4.89 million.

Games like Splatoon show the continuing way forward for Nintendo. Yes, there's a certain amount of mileage in keeping Mario Kart, Super Mario Bros, or Smash Bros alive on new platforms, but Nintendo's proven adept at finding the new genres to play in and those experiments tend to pay off more than other conservative titles. During this nine month period, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes and Yoshi's Wooly World sold 1.08 million and 1.31 million copies respectively. Those numbers are respectable, but Splatoon points to a Nintendo that could branch out farther to find more success.

The Mario or Zelda brands are important, but the takeaway is Nintendo has crafted a relatively solid audience that will try out new things as long as Nintendo is behind them. Instead of stretching Zelda into something like Tri-Force Heroes or Metroid into something like Metroid Prime: Federation Force, Nintendo looks to be better off crafting wholly-new projects around those same gameplay concepts.

Of course, the company may not know how to consistently pull out a Splatoon, Nintendogs, or Brain Age. Game development is hard and hitting gold mines in brand-new regions is even harder, but if anyone can do it, it's Nintendo. I'm hoping the company's upcoming partnership with DeNA to create new mobile titles will shake up the development staff a bit and let them pursue some new gameplay concepts away from consoles. Then perhaps those ideas will find their way back to new games on the Wii U or upcoming NX. And that's before we get into whatever new play experiences Nintendo has waiting for us on NX in 2016 and beyond.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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