While December was a grim month overall for the video game industry, it was particularly brutal for Nintendo. Wii hardware sales were down a whopping 55 percent compared to a year ago, a clear sign that interest in the once-hot console has dried up.
All of the major consoles saw sales declines last month, but they were muted compared to Nintendo's drop. The Xbox 360 was off 8 percent and the PlayStation 3 saw sales fall 22 percent.
Unfortunately, the bad news didn't stop there for the company. Wii software sales were down 42 percent from a year ago. And they might have been a lot worse if Ubisoft's Just Dance 3 (which is always a big hit for Wii owners — including certain heads of state) hadn't proven to be the year's second best-selling title. Life to date, the Just Dance series has sold more than 25 million copies, according to Ubisoft — with Just Dance 3 selling 7 million of those.
The wretched sales numbers could be a worrisome sign to Nintendo investors. While the company will release its next-generation system — the Wii U — this year, there's very little buzz about it so far. And tying the name so closely to the old system could confuse buyers, causing them to bypass it.
While the Wii flopped over the holidays, there was some cause for optimism at Nintendo. The 3DS, which got off to an incredibly rocky start last year, is finally seeing momentum gains.
December 3DS sales were up 102 percent from the previous month -- four times the number of hardware units in its launch month.
With the 3DS finally boasting a good software lineup, people were buying games to go along with that hardware. The continued strength of Super Mario Land 3D and the launch of Mario Kart 7 sent 3DS software sales up an impressive 240 percent.