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Iwata: 3DS Sales Have Now Slipped Behind DS, Still Second-Fastest Selling System Ever

Though we’ve often heard it touted that sales of Nintendo 3DS have “kept pace” with Nintendo DS, it turns out that in recent months, its lead has diminished and fallen behind. Satoru Iwata confirmed this in a financial results presentation following Nintendo’s earnings release, where he explained Nintendo’s stance on their current performance. Nonetheless, 3DS still stands as the second fastest-selling system ever in Japan, ahead of the Game Boy Advance, Wii, and PlayStation 2.

In terms of top-selling software for 2012, nine of the top 20 were 3DS games, two of them were DS games (Pokémon Black 2 & Pokémon White 2), and three were on Wii or Wii U. See which games made the cut and check out what Mr. Iwata had to say about handheld sales performance after the break.

This graph (editor’s note: the graph above) compares how various platforms boosted their total sales in the first two years from their respective launches. As shown here, the consumer sales of Nintendo 3DS reached 10 million units in less than two years. This sales pace is slightly slower than that of Nintendo DS which penetrated the market at an explosive rate, but it is the second fastest-selling system to date, far exceeding the sales paces of all hardware systems before Nintendo DS. While Nintendo 3DS did not get off the ground so well, we managed to place it back on an ideal sales track.

This chart (editor’s note: the chart on the left below) shows the top 20 titles from last calendar year in the Japanese video game market. We have 14 titles for Nintendo platforms, nine of which are for Nintendo 3DS. In particular, “Animal Crossing: New Leaf,” launched on November 8, had a big presence in the market and led last year’s year-end sales season.

This graph (editor’s note: the chart on the right below) shows the sales transitions of various handheld systems in the Japanese market in the year-end sales seasons of last calendar year as well as the preceding year. The dark colors represent last year’s data while the light colors the preceding year’s.

Even a cursory glance reveals that Nintendo 3DS boasts an enormous presence in the entire market. Compared with the year 2011 when we had three million-selling titles, “SUPER MARIO 3D LAND,” “Mario Kart 7″ and “Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate” launched in quick succession, the sales peak from 2012 was certainly lower, partially due to the fact that we launched Wii U towards the end of the year 2012 and consumer interest was certainly dispersed across many products, but the launch of “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” in week 45 vitalized the market from an early stage, and the sales remained at a very high level throughout the year-end sales season. As for the Nintendo 3DS sales in the Japanese market, we achieved the higher results than we had expected before the sales season.

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Source: Nintendo Third Quarter Financial Results Briefing