July was a great month for Nintendo. Octopath Traveler was the best-selling game in the U.S., according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. The Switch was also the best-selling console in terms of both dollar and unit sales. That company should celebrate, but it should keep an eye out for the giant purple and yellow man in the shadows who smells of onions.
That’s right, Wario isn’t happy.
WarioWare Gold launched August 3 for the Nintendo 3DS. That gave it two days of sales for NPD’s July period, which ended August 4. For a new game, that’s enough time to make an impact — but WarioWare did not. The latest entry in the microgames series failed to crack the NPD’s top 20 best-selling games. On the 3DS chart, it limped into No. 3 behind Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon of the Pokémon series.
Now, I may love it, but I’m not going to pretend like WarioWare is one of Nintendo’s biggest and best-selling franchises. But the 3DS has sold 72.86 million systems worldwide, and the U.S. makes up a significant chunk of that install base. So you would think that a new game on that platform would perform “OK” or even “not bad.”
NPD doesn’t provide numbers, but for a new game to launch and not even crack the top 20 on the NPD chart? That’s a rough start. It also puts the lie to the idea that install base is all that matters. Selling a lot of console is great, but what really matters is the attach-rate, which is to say the number of games sold per system. And preferably you’d want to see a high attach-rate over the last 12 months.
The 3DS’s attach rate is dropping fast because its audience has moved on to the Switch. I bought WarioWare, but I primarily treat my 3DS as a relic at this point. It has more than 50 games installed digitally, and that is what the system will probably have for the rest of its life. It’s a console I already imagine giving to my young daughter to play the existing library but not to buy new games.
Of course, I should point out that first-party Nintendo games don’t include digital sales on the NPD list, and I bet that WarioWare did a significant portion of its business through the eShop. But physical still represents more than 50 percent of new game sales, so it doesn’t change the fact that fans have already phased the 3DS out even if Nintendo hasn’t.
And Wario needs something better than an obsolete handheld for his greedy capitalist schemes to succeed, so maybe Nintendo can start pulling a Wii U on these late 3DS games and port them to the Switch.
Correction: This story originally said that WarioWare gold launched July 27. It actually debuted in North America on August 3. That gave it two days of sales on the July NPD chart.