A List Of Nintendo’s Best-Selling Wii Games

By Ishaan . August 6, 2011 . 1:32pm

While digging through Nintendo’s latest annual report, we came across sales numbers for some of their more high-profile Wii games. We’ve edited the chart below to include each game’s year of release in the U.S., so our readers have some indication of how long it took each game to reach its current figure. Sales figures below are worldwide, as of March 2011:



I was a little taken aback by the figure for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, as I — perhaps wrongly — expected it to be higher. Twilight Princess was also available on the Gamecube, and the last recorded sales number for the Gamecube version was 1.32 million units sold by 2007.


Note: Wii Sports was originally a pack-in with the Wii in the U.S. and Europe. In May 2010, Wii Sports Resort became a pack-in game alongside Wii Sports with the black Wii bundle. In May 2011, Mario Kart Wii became a pack-in game for a new Wii bundle.

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  • The best games are the least selling ones, what’s wrong with this world

    • kupomogli

      I was going to make a similar comment.  Makes you wonder what the best selling non first party games are.

      • ForeverFidelis

        Generic shovelware

        • Really?

          • ForeverFidelis

            I vaguely remember seeing a list for the best selling PS3 games for over the course of a month or a year or something, and it was all cash in movie games and “move” stuff.

            I’m just assuming that it could be the same for the Wii, especially considering the amount of rused minigame type games out there for it.

      • I can’t look it up right now, but I’d imagine it’d look something like: EA Sports Active, Just Dance etc. etc. Stuff like Resident Evil 4 and Call of Duty has sold well, too, but like Nintendo’s own “core” games, those are in the lower “selling well” range.

      • I believe Ubisoft said Just Dance 2 was the best selling third party game on the Wii with 14mln units as of July. I believe the second best selling one was Just Dance 1 at 4mln units (2010). Sonic Colors, Call of Duty , and a Guitar Hero ought to be on the list too.

      • I wonder if Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World would be a possbile high selling third party game. Granted it’s not as good as the original Tales of Symphonia on the GC, but I always wondered how well it did sell.

    • Ryos

      Unfortunately, this is why shovelware is pretty much all Nintendo does anymore.  If this is what is required for videogames to be mainstream, I’d rather they didn’t.

      • kylehyde

        Even that I don’t like Wii-X games many of them on their own garnered good rankings, meanwhile the ubisoft rip-offs were the true shovelware.

        • This.  Wii Sports Resort, and while not up there on the list, Warioware are actually fun.  I dont’ think I seen a single positive thing about 3rd party minigame collections.  Except maybe Raving Rabbids, but that series has the personality to pull it off if you tolerate how many there are.

          I will say that Wii Play wasn’t needed, but that tank minigame was awesome.  Should of been a wiiware title.

    • I agree, but to be fair, galaxy 1 and 2, twilight and smash (even though I don´t play smash) are all masterpieces.

  • I heard that the Wii Resort games sold so much because it came togheter with the Wii console, so thats explain why it is the most sold.
    I guess that applies for the others “Wii something” games.

    • In Japan those games came separate from the system. The Wii Sports games that is.

  • malek86

    Look at those numbers, and all sold at full price!

    Makes you wonder how could Nintendo even lose money this quarter, considering just how many software sales they get.

    • Sorta unrelated, but I was going over the investor Q&A again yesterday for that 3DS software prices post and noticed an interesting point where Iwata mentioned that he repeatedly asks that investors let Nintendo hold a high liquidity of assets due to the inherent risks of the business. 

      That’s apparently what allowed them to feel comfortable cutting price on the 3DS so greatly. They held on to a large amount of the assets they made during the successful Wii and DS period, despite investors asking if the company really needed to hold on to that much cash.

      • malek86

        Ack, you’re right. Checking on Nintendo’s financials, looks like they got 16 billion dollars of current assets, of which 10 billions are cash.

        Speaking strictly in cash terms, that’s almost as much money as Apple keeps around. What do they even do with all that much? It seems excessive.

        • I think it’s basically what Iwata said…they hang on to it in case they find themselves in a fix, like with the 3DS situation. I’m guessing a lot of it is also generously poured into R&D. 

          There’s also that new Nintendo facility they’re setting up, which must be costing them a pretty penny. Monolith Soft’s opening a new Kyoto studio closer to them, too, which they must be financing. And they also set up Project Sora in recent years, where they’re hiring a large number of staff for developing Smash Bros…

          (all of this is just educated guesses of course…god knows what’s going on over there right now)

          • malek86

            I understand that, but to keep around those amounts of pure cash… judging on the last quarter, their quick ratio and cash ratio are unbelievably high.

            That would normally be seen as stunting growth. After all, money by itself is useless. You can use it to give yourself some leeway just in case, but not more than necessary.

            Um, I wonder what would turn up if I checked their previous years too.

          • I do wonder if it’s simply a precaution in case of a worst-case, the-sky-is-falling type scenario. Like Mario Kart and Super Mario 3D both fail, 3DS is a complete disaster, Microsoft announces their next Xbox and causes them to go back to the drawing board on Wii U, and at the same time another earthquake destroys one of their major offices. 

            Unlikely, I know, but like you, I do wonder why they need all that money. Another theory is that it’s simply because they understand that they’re only a videogame company, so there’s nothing else to back them up if their new products fail. Iwata seems all too aware of this fact and I’ve seen him bring it up over and over, that games are all they have.

            [added a few more thoughts]

          • malek86

            @Ishaan:disqus  possibly, but it still feels a bit on the unnecessary side. Maybe a manager who insists on keeping around that much cash instead of investing it (even just short-term) could be considered “weak”. I wonder if the investors are happy with Iwata. Looking at Nintendo’s shares, they have fallen back to almost GC-era levels. I’m expecting a recovery after the 3DS will start selling better, but I severely doubt it will be anywhere near the peaks reached in 2007-2008.

          • @malek86:disqus I guess we have no way of knowing what investors generally think of Nintendo’s upper management, but I do sincerely believe that they recognize Iwata as someone who’s done nothing but good for the company.

            At the end of the day, he’s only human and it’s natural that he’d have a misstep or two in the process of getting a feel for the changing market. Iwata’s more open-minded and perceptive than a lot of game industry people, and I think that alone counts for quite a bit. He’s also a very big iPhone fan, by his own admission, which I suppose helps ease some concerns, too…in the sense that he’s well aware of his competition.

            I’m not worried about Nintendo’s business this generation, but I am worried about the next. Judging by everything that’s been said, you’ve got to think the next portable gen will have to see them enter the phone market. Iwata’s said it himself…they’re researching those possibilities. The question is, can he pull it off. :/

          • malek86

            “Judging by everything that’s been said, you’ve got to think the next portable gen will have to see them enter the phone market. Iwata’s said it himself…they’re researching those possibilities. The question is, can he pull it off.”

            I have my doubts. But Apple pulled it off in spades, so who knows. Then again, even if they have to do it, they’ll find the mobile market to be much different (and difficul) than the others they’ve been in thus far. Until now they’ve always been in the familiar console markets. Their lack of investments might be an effect of that.

            I’m interested in seeing how Nintendo would compete with the likes of Apple or Samsung. They’ll better have some killer strategy, because they won’t be on their homeground anymore.

          • “I’m interested in seeing how Nintendo would compete with the likes of Apple or Samsung. They’ll better have some killer strategy, because they won’t be on their homeground anymore.”

            Tell me about it. But at least they understand the basics of what needs to be done. Better relationships with external developers, better digital distribution, reasonable pricing. But yea, every year without a “Nintendo phone” is another year that the iPhone gets to cement its position as the go-to smartphone/device.

          • malek86

            “every year without a “Nintendo phone” is another year that the iPhone gets to cement its position as the go-to smartphone/device.”

            I think that even if Nintendo were to actually come out with a smartphone now, it would get destroyed quite handily. I don’t think the market is ready for a gaming smartphone yet (and that’s what Nintendo would probably make).

            Given another two or three years, it might make sense. But now, if somebody tried making a gaming smartphone (I won’t even talk about the Xperia because that was doomed from the start), even with the expertise of Nintendo, it would probably fail. Mostly due to game prices, but other factors too. For example, people care about the thinness of their phone. And I think games still aren’t considered an actual buying reason.

  • On this list you have traditional Platformer, Side Scroller, Adventure, Racing, and Fighter. Follow by party, sports activities, and the new fitness genre. Tell me who else could have done that in this gaming age. There are no Sports Sims, FPS, and Music games. Sales don’t determine quality, but they do determine the appeal they have. I don’t care how good LBP, and Infamous are according to ratings. If no one is willing to buy them that means people don’t really find them appealing.

    • Phoenix_Apollo

      But those games are necessary for the industry to continue to thrive and get better. If it’s all about the million seller, than it’d be no better than Hollywood.

    • sandra10

      LBP and inFamous are both million copy sellers. I’m failing to see how they’re not appealing to people. They’re far from niche.

      I’m not sure if I want any company to do what Nintendo did with the Wii – no, scratch that, I’m sure I don’t.

    • HistorysGreatestMonster

      It’s all well and good to be a Nintendo supporter, but you’re taking it to a pretty silly level with this comment. 

  • Fire Emblem is where art thou?  They need to do more New Super Mario Bros, that was the best game from Nintendo Ive ever played and the most innovative one. It was so cool. As expected both galaxy games performed worst due to not innovating and differentiating themselves from the decades old Super Mario 64, indicating, the flaw that Nintendo is too conservative in their 3D titles failing to adopt change and rehasing the same concepts, once youve played Super Mario 64, youve played all 3D marios.

    • Mario Galaxy is the same as every other 3D Mario before it but somehow NSMB is this new, refreshing bastion of innovation? Now, mind you, I’m not saying NSMB isn’t good, but at the end of the day, it’s still a side-scrolling Mario game.

      The difference between NSMB and Galaxy sales has nothing to do with innovation — in fact, it’s the exact opposite. It has to do with familiarity. More people buy 2D Mario because it’s simpler and they’re more familiar with it.

      In Japan, this divide is even wider and contributes greatly to the difference in sales numbers. The Japanese aren’t as interested in 3D Mario as they are in 2D because the 3D ones look intimidating to them. With Mario Galaxy 2, there was a very conscious effort on Nintendo’s part to make the game feel less intimidating to Japanese players for this reason.

      There’s also the issue of motion sickness, which tends to be an issue with a noticeable enough number of Japanese players. I believe there was a point where people even debated if motion sickness was the reason FPSes weren’t as popular over in Japan.

      ps: More on this here if you’re interested: http://bit.ly/eRDMe0

      • New Super Mario Bros Wii is new and innovative. What other Mario game had up to four player simultaneous cooperative or even competitive multiplayer gameplay in the series? What other Mario game even offered a super guide feature, making it the most accessible and perhaps fun Mario game thus created. This multiplayer functionality, innovation for the series, is what led to it being different and being taken up by more people, not one of graphics and familiarity. Multiplayer for Nintendo titles is a driving factor for growth, as the most sellingest titles on this list indicate.

        • Phoenix_Apollo

          I’d consider it an innovation if they made the characters different like with Doki Doki Panic/Mario 2. As it is in NSMBW, they’re more similar than they are different.

        • I agree, it isn’t a question of graphics at all. It’s a question of the kind of game they are. You’re completely right in that NSMB being multiplayer definitely has more family appeal, and that’s a big factor, but it’s also a far more “familiar” kind of game that has its roots going all the way back to the 1980s. 

          Oh, and Galaxy 2 has a Super Guide feature as well. :p

          • Well New Super Mario Bros Wii was the first game to implement Super Guide though. So the game was known for two innovations, one of which still hasnt been implemented in any other titles, and one of which was so good when it was introduced that Nintendo has put it in more games.

            Most people believe that the Wii expanded the Videogame market. The Wii was many consumers first video game console and numerous kids first videogame experience, households too, can it truly be familiar if these people werent even gaming in the 1980’s to be aware of Mario. In the 1980’s wasnt it on arcade machines? Mario looks vastly different, based on these images, from way back in yesteryears to 2009. 

            Speaking of the 80’s wouldnt these gamers be approaching 30 years old, on the far end of the spectrum for being videogamers…

          • Like you said, the Wii did reach out to people that have stopped playing games or didn’t play them in the first place. I’m sure a lot of people that fall into the former category used to play games back in the 8 and maybe even 16-bit days, and yes, they’re the older spectrum of gamers now. :)

            Super Guide is a fantastic feature, I agree! And it’s completely to NSMB Wii’s credit that it’s making its way into more Nintendo games. I’m just saying, at first glance a 2D side-scrolling Mario appears a lot more familiar to people than something like Mario Galaxy. A lot of people understand what it is immediately because they’ve played something very similar to it before.

          • neo_firenze

            “Speaking of the 80’s wouldnt these gamers be approaching 30 years

            Exactly – that’s one of the big keys to NSMB’s success.  People in their 30s-40s do have fond memories of side scrolling Mario, AND they have more disposable income than kids or young adults.  Even if some of those people don’t play a lot of games any more, they’re now buying stuff like NSMB for their own kids.  Not to mention a lot of them DO still play games to some extent – some play a lot, some are the more casual or “lapsed gamers” that Wii succeeded so well with. 

            And you’d be surprised how many of us 30+ year old serious console gamers are out there.  It wasn’t as common before since people that age didn’t grow up with gaming.  But now, your average American 30-something did grow up in the 8/16-bit generation, and a lot never gave it up. 

          • I’m 33 years and believe me I know and seen 30 to 40 and even 50 something gamers here in the UK. And these gamers are not on the far end of the spectrum, infact they’re/we’re right in the middle of the spectrum my friend! :)

    • Um sorry but NSMBW doesn’t separate far from the other 2D Mario as you claim the 3D Mario games are.
      Sure there’s multiplayer but the gameplay didn’t change much aside from it.

      Most innovative Nintendo game?  That’s up to debate, I cannot call NSMB most innovative.

    • Yeah, it’s a little disheartening that Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn isn’t up there. That explains why the other DS installment never came out overseas. And I agree, Super Mario Galaxy was just okay. I personally liked Super Mario Sunshine the best out of all the 3D Mario games, but it’s kind of the “black sheep” of the family. 

      • I think it’s because Shadow Dragon wasn’t a big success.

        But Shadow Dragon was really bad.

        • I try to forget that game ever happened. The character designs looked like muddy, generic nobodies. And the maps all looked the same, and…*shivers*

    • Are they…quitting on Fire Emblem for us? They haven’t released another game in NA since Shadow Dragon…..Nintendo NOO!

  • Fonic

    Didn’t Smash Bros. come out in 2008? Definitely wasn’t 2006 anyway.

    I’m a little surprised Mario Galaxy 1 isn’t higher given it is, or at least was, considered the best game on the console.

    • Urgh, you’re right. That was a typo on my part. Let me edit and re-up the chart…

      • malek86

        Wii Sports is wrong too, it came out in 2006.

        • GRRRRR. Kill me. That’s what I get for duplicating layers…

  • Appeal to the parents is evident here.

  • badmoogle

    The only games that i have from that list are wii-sports and twilight princess.:p
    (I was never a Mario fan.)

    • I’m only a fan when Mario is of the Paper variety! ;)

      Which reminds me, why isn’t Super Paper Mario listed? That game was awesome.

      • Lots of games aren’t listed. This is a list of the best-selling games. Stuff like Metroid Prime 3 was listed in one of their previous reports (1.3 mil. in 2007 or something). 

        • Aww, Paper Mario deserves the same sales as regular Mario!

          But thanks for the reply!

          • Yea, I weep for Metroid’s niche status as well. Thankfully, they still seem to consider it one of their “main” franchises, despite the fact that it sells a fraction of their other mascot games…

          • malek86

            They consider it such a main franchise that they didn’t bother celebrating its 25th anniversary. They’d rather do it for DQ, which is not a first party game. Some consideration there.

            I think it’s only people who actually do consider it a main franchise on par with Mario or Zelda. For the most part, Nintendo just doesn’t care that much. They’ve often let other developers make the games, they usually wouldn’t do that with the other two juggernauts. Sometimes I wonder if Nintendo didn’t let Retro make the Prime games mostly just so they wouldn’t have to, and even they were taken aback when it turned out to be so acclaimed and successful.

            The quality is there, but technically, if we were to talk about Nintendo’s “Triforce”, I should point out that Donkey Kong sold and sells a lot more than Metroid.

          • @malek86:disqus You’re right, DK is definitely way more important than Metroid. But I meant in the sense that Samus is still pushed as a major mascot for them. The Wii U tech demo, the 3DS AR Cards…she’s still there.

            I don’t think it’s a question of not wanting to make the games themselves though…more that they don’t have the expertise at their Japanese headquarters to do it. I remember Sakamoto saying they even approached another developer about making Metroid 64 back in the day, but the company they approached turned it down because they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to outdo Super Metroid. 

            Same thing with Prime and Other M. Retro and Team Ninja were approached because no team within Nintendo can make those kinds of games. To be honest, I prefer it this way. I like that Metroid tends to reinvent itself so radically every few years. :)

            25th anniversary…as much as I’d love to complain, I can’t blame them. Something I thought about this past weekend is…look at that Twilight Princess number. It’s really low. This whole 25th anniversary thing is probably one giant marketing campaign to try and bring Zelda back into the spotlight. I mean, do you remember the excitement for TP back during 2004-2006? I’m sure part of the reason they’re doing this is so that Skyward Sword (and future games) don’t get forgotten. It makes sense that they’d want to concentrate on Zelda.

            And as for DQ…well, DQ is what makes the money in Japan, hahaha. Of course they’d want to promote that. They just spent a good number of years rebuilding their relationship with Square. :p

          • malek86

            @Ishaan:disqus  TP numbers are not that low. There were the GC buyers too, and at some point Nintendo pretty much stopped making copies, don’t know why. Maybe they got annoyed at people using it for homebrews. Even though the latter copies are supposed to be patched, so who knows.

            Also Zelda, despite losing some popularity on home consoles – but how much, really? The series hit a peak with OOT, and other games like Majora and WW sold even less than TP – seems to have gained a bit on portables, with Phantom Hourglass being around 5 million copies if I’m not wrong. Spirit Tracks a bit less, but you can chalk that up to them trying something new and fans not liking when Nintendo tries something new (and we wonder why companies don’t innovate). If SS doesn’t sell that much, it will only be because of obligatory WM+ support, or the hype behind the Wii U which has pretty much assured the market doesn’t care about the Wii anymore. And maybe a couple guys thinking that the game might be re-released on that console later.

            Overall, the Anniversary thing seems more of a celebration, than something thought up just for money. Of course, everything is marketing, so I don’t mean to say they don’t care about the advertising effect or anything. But think about it, they aren’t even making a compilation of games. It’s just a series of concerts. That sounds like something that only true fans would care about, not new audiences.

            Even Mario had a celebration, and it’s not like he needed the advertising…

            On the other hand, Metroid would probably benefit from a slightly increased market awareness.

      • I actually had heard that Super Paper Mario wasn’t as good as the previous iterations, notwithstanding the fact that it was not an RPG. What were your experiences with the game?

        • Super Paper Mario is definitely different. I personally missed the turn-based battles and the partners. Like, the Pixls filled that role, but had no personality. And I miss all the towns from the previous two.

          However, Super Paper Mario still had the series’ trademark humor, and the gameplay was fun if you try to forget about the RPG battles from before. It also had a good villain. I like The Thousand Year Door best, but Super Paper Mario was definitely still a great game.

          And sorry for the really late reply!

      • Bakuryukun

        Even though I like other Mario games, the Paper series really is the best. :3

  • Oh God, what has happened to the world…JUST DANCE?! Ugh.

    *Sorry, I kind of posted instead of replying to Tsunayoshi’s comment toward the bottom…;P*

  • Clif Knight

    Shame since I know 2 games that could make this list if they were only released here. Oh well maybe they’ll show up on Japan’s and Europe’s list.

    • Barrylocke89

      No it won’t. They look like amazing games, but they won’t be on a list like this.

    • creid8

      No new IP, no matter how good, could sell 6 million copies on Wii in the year 2011.

  •  it’s sad that most of these games were from the systems early life. . . just sad

  • maxchain

    I wish they’d tell you how many of them were the pack-ins.  I get nauseous whenever someone brings up those Wii Play sales, and there’s never anything around to qualify the numbers.

  • Yesshua

    Wow.  Ok.  Well, I guess this aptly justifies Nintendo’s recent market strategy.  I knew that “casual” titles were where the money was at, but I never dreamed the dichotomy was so pronounced.  Some of these numbers are absolutely astounding.

    I find myself feeling lucky that Nintendo is still making games for my demographic at all.  If they were to go all in on the Wii X and Mario franchises they would be pretty well justified.

    I also totally see where Nintendo is coming from on the Operation Rainfall issue.  If these games are what makes bank, I’d certainly prioritize JRPGs (which haven’t even been doing too hot on other consoles lately) a little lower.

  • The only one that is a surprise to me is the Wii Fit. Mario, Zelda, and Smash Brothers are normally best selling titles for Nintendo, while Wii Sports and Sports resort were bundled with the system. But that many people went for the Wii fit stuff? If there is going to be an insane about of people buying the Wii for a game like that, no wonder we can’t get real games like Xenoblade and all. I have always loved Nintendo for Mario and Zelda games, but I if I wanna play JRPGs I go to the PS2/PS3.

  • so in the end the only REAL million sellers on wii where ONLY first-party titles?
    and only either casual or mario-powered titles?

    • At least 103 Wii gamers were million sellers and Ninty didnt release 103 first party Wii titles. 

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