The most recent entry in Nintendo’s long-running series of immensely popular racing games, Mario Kart 8, has reportedly surpassed two million copies sold since its release at the end of May 2014. Despite a stronger than expected early showing, the game’s sales are not likely to reach the lofty heights set by some of the most well performing titles in the franchise, such as Mario Kart Wii, which moved a grand total of 35.5 million units according to a report by Forbes, largely due to the extremely underwhelming sales of Nintendo’s Wii U console. However, these early figures seem to indicate that the game may be driving up the lackluster sales of the console itself, giving Nintendo management and fans alike new hope that the company might yet make some headway in the competition with the Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
The Mario Kart franchise has been, historically, one of Nintendo’s best selling products. However, according to an article by Polygon, the limited number of Wii U owners was initially expected to impede sales of the game. With only just slightly more than six million Wii U owners worldwide, the game would still be one of the worst performing in the franchise even if every console owner were to purchase it. Mario Kart 8, however, is defying expectations, selling nearly twice as many units in its first month than was initially projected by analysts. Forbes also reports that the game is even driving up sales of the console, with the UK seeing an 82% rise in Wii U sales once the console was packaged with Mario Kart 8. With the strong fan response to Mario Kart 8 and the upcoming Wii U Super Smash Bros title making waves at E3 2014, it seems possible that the floundering console still has some potential for success now that Nintendo’s signature franchises are beginning to work their way into the Wii U library.
The good news came potentially just in time to save the job of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, whose popularity amongst shareholders had been falling dramatically due to the failings of the Wii U as well as concerns over Iwata’s health and ability to see Nintendo through to the other side of their struggle with the poor sales of their current console. Despite the concerns, however, the previously immensely popular Iwata held on to a majority vote of shareholders and his job as president, likely due at least in part to the first signs of a turnaround in the downward spiral of the Nintendo’s most recent console. While it still has a long way to go to catch the competition, Mario Kart 8 is certainly proving that there’s some life left in the Wii U.