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Dismal Wii U sales continue to dog Nintendo

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(Credit: Nintendo)

How bad are things for the Wii U? Between the end of March and the end of September this year, Nintendo sold just 460,000 units of the system, the company confirmed in their latest earnings report.

Released last November, life-to-date sales of the Wii U stand at 3.91 million units, according to the company. That makes the Wii U one of the worst performing game systems of the past decade.

A bold claim? Yes, but take a look at first four fiscal quarters for other notable video game systems:

Nintendo DS (released 2004) -- 8.83 million units sold
Xbox 360
(released 2005) -- 5.9 million units sold
PlayStation Portable*
(released 2005) -- 15 million units shipped (actual number sold was not revealed)
PlayStation 3
(released 2006) -- 5.63 million units sold
(released 2006) -- 13.17 million units sold
Nintendo 3DS
(released 2011) -- 15 million units sold

*PlayStation Vita not included as its first fiscal year sales data was combined with PSP.

The terrible Wii U sales for the first half of this fiscal year sank Nintendo to a quarterly loss of 8 billion yen ($81 million), which virtually erased the previous quarter's profit. The company noted in its earnings report that the releases of Pikmin 3 and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD have done little to spark consumer interest in the system.

Though the Wii U managed to sell over 6 million software units in the last six months, the system is not doing anything good for the company’s bottom line.

“The Wii U hardware still has a negative impact on Nintendo's profits," the company told investors.

By way of comparison, the original Wii console actually outperformed the Wii U over the past six months, selling 470,000 units and moving 15 million software titles.

If there was any upside, it's that Wii U hardware sales in July, August and September were double the previous three months. Thanks to a price cut, Nintendo of America earlier this month said September sales of its flagship hardware increased by more than 200 percent over the August NPD numbers, though they did not give hard numbers to quantify that increase.

And while the Wii U struggles, the company's handheld 3DS continues to perform quite well. In the first half of the current fiscal year, Nintendo says it sold 3.89 million hardware units, with life to date sales closing in on 35 million, a number that will likely jump given the recent success of Pokemon X/Y.

Nintendo's hoping the Wii U sees a bump this holiday season as well, driven by both the September price cut and the anticipated release of Super Mario 3D World, which hits shelves Nov. 22. Of course, the release of the Xbox One on the same day and the PS4's Nov. 15 arrival might put a damper on the Wii U's holiday.

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