The figures for US video game market sales for March just came through and show that Nintendo's Wii has outsold the Xbox 360 and Sony PS3 for the third month running. Sales of hardware and software are booming in the US, up 33 per cent as the new consoles on the market and the games that go with them are snapped up.
The Wii has, against the odds, taken on the two heavyweights of the industry and won, when it comes to consoles sold. But it's a very different picture in New Zealand where the pint-sized games console is struggling to gain traction.
This story I wrote for last week's Herald provides some background, but the chart below illustrates the problem clearly. The Wii just isn't competing with its two key rivals. Even the PSP is outselling the Wii.
Nintendo, which doesn't have a local presence, hasn't done much marketing of the Wii, compared to Sony's push with the PS3. There have been some Wii-related TV adverts of late and a bit of newspaper and circular advertising but marketing budget constraints seem to have hamstrung the Wii. If Nintendo is serious about the New Zealand market it needs to set up an office here. Sony and Microsoft both have the benefit of having in house people looking after their gaming interests and external PR companies to push their wares. The Wii just can't compete with that sort of marketing muscle.
The Wii has even even been going gangbusters in Australia, so you can't put its poor performance here down to cultural differences.
As Gfk Australia analyst Daniel Morse told me:
"The greatest disparity between Australia and New Zealand is the performance of the Nintendo formats in NZ. In Australia the Nintendo DS was the best selling console for 2006 with over 287,000 units. In NZ the Nintendo DS has only just sold 12,000 in the same time.
"To put that in perspective the PS2 sold 265,000 in AU for 2006 in NZ it sold 61,000. Similarly the Nintendo Wii has sold over 80,000 in Australia and only 6,000 in NZ. In the near future I believe this will be further highlighted as many international publishers have increased their support for Nintendo's formats, given the popularity of the formats worldwide and as some of the industries biggest franchises move across to Nintendo's formats. I am surprised the NZ consumer is not more embracing of Nintendo's product."