Super Mario 3D Land Outpacing Super Mario Galaxy’s First-Year Sales

By Ishaan . February 2, 2013 . 2:00pm

Super Mario 3D Land is outpacing Super Mario Galaxy in its first year, according to sales figures provided in Nintendo’s latest earnings report. Here are sales figures for both games in their first 13 months:


Super Mario 3D Land – 8 million copies sold

  • (Released Nov. 2011 for 3DS)


Super Mario Galaxy – 7.66 million copies sold

  • (Released Nov. 2007 for Wii)


How exactly is this happening? The main cause is that, while Super Mario Galaxy performed slightly better than Super Mario 3D Land in the west, 3D Land is outselling the Wii game by nearly double in Japan. Here’s how both games did in Japan and the West at a glance:


As shown in the graph above, over the course of thirteen months, significantly greater sales of Super Mario 3D Land in Japan (blue bars) helped the game outpace Galaxy’s worldwide sales.


Super Mario 3D Land sold 1.85 million copies in Japan alone, while Galaxy sales in Japan were at 934,000. If you’re more interested in exact sales figures of both games in Japan and the West, you can find them at the bottom of this report.


So, why is Super Mario 3D Land doing so much better than Galaxy in Japan? It’s because 3D Mario games tend not to do as well in Japan as they do in the west, but 3D Land is a deliberate mix of the linear 2D and more exploratory 3D styles, which makes it more approachable for the Japanese audience.


As of March 2012—ie; five years after its release—worldwide Super Mario Galaxy sales were at 10.68 million copies. It should be interesting to see how high Super Mario 3D Land goes in a similar timeframe, especially since it already has New Super Mario Bros. 2 stealing some of its thunder, particularly in the Japanese market.


Game Japan Sales West. sales
SM 3D Land: Nov – Dec (2011) 1.36 million 3.86 million
SM 3D Land: Jan – Mar (2012) 210,000 590,000
SM 3D Land: Jan – Mar (2012) 280,000 1.88 million
SM Galaxy: Nov – Dec (2007) 840,000 4.35 million
SM Galaxy: Nov – Dec (2008) 90,000 820,000
SM Galaxy: Nov – Dec (2008) 4,000 1.51 million


Note: Some discrepancies exist due to rounded off figures in Nintendo’s financials.


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  • JMaster3000

    But still Galaxy is better than 3D Land.

    • Enzo

      I haven’t played Galaxy, but I kind of agree with you there. 3D Land was still a good game, though.

  • Pyrotek85

    Don’t portable consoles tend to be more dominant there as well? It looks like in general the 3DS has been kicking butt over there.

    • They do, but if that were the only reason, New Super Mario Bros. 2 would be outselling New Super Mario Bros. Wii. However, it only debuted at half the figures of the latter game in Japan, so there’s much more to it than just the portable vs. console factor in the case of these games.

      • Barrylocke89

        Well there’s at least two potential things that New Super Mario Bros. Wii had going for it that might have led to more sales.

        1. NSMBW had a heavy emphasis on multiplayer in a Mario game. That’s what of the big things that seperated it from the original NSMB, and I remember that the advertising in the west HEAVILY reflected that. I don’t know what the Japanese advertising campaign was like, but I imagine that the same held true there as well, since the Wii’s often been held as a “family/friend get-together” sort of console.

        2. It’s possible that some possible buyers may have looked at NSMB2 and ultimately decided that it was a little too similar to NSMB/NSMBW to warrant an immediate purchase. I suppose you could through NSMBWU into that pot too, though being a new game for a new system, I’m not sure just how much that really would have factored into the equation.

        • Both great points. I figured someone would bring them up, haha.

          It’s very true that NSMB Wii was heavily pushed as a multiplayer-focused game, and yeah, that holds true for Japan as well. I can imagine that a lot of households picked the game up for that reason alone.

          It’s also true that NSMB2 doesn’t look to really do anything “new” aside from the focus on collecting coins. I mean, yeah, I guess that’s an interesting twist, but at the end of the day, it’s more of the same. NSMBU seems to be more of an upgrade with the overworld and GamePad features.

          I’m sure those played into the performances of all three games. I just wanted to point out that, just because a Mario was on a portable as opposed to a console, that wouldn’t affect things as much as with other series. (Especially considering that Galaxy came out when the Wii was in its prime!)

  • LinkofCourage

    I think it will end as the best selling 3D Mario game worldwide, it already is in Japan.

  • nyobzoo

    makes sense considering, 3DS – 1 game per person vs Wii – 1 game per household

    • EmoryM

      I doubt families with 3 kids are shelling out $150 for NSMB2… hell, when I was a kid I didn’t ask for games my friends had.

  • Ethan_Twain

    It was explicitly stated that the goal of Mario 3D Land was to make a 3D Mario game that would appeal to people who play 2D Mario games. So far this 3D Mario game is more successful than other 3D Mario games, so this objective can be said to be a success. This inevitably leads one to assume that the next 3D Mario game in development will also endeavor to capture some essence of the more popular 2D Mario games.

    • I wondered the same thing, but at the same time you also have to wonder if that wouldn’t be to the detriment of the next 3D game. It’s going to be on Wii U. A new console with more powerful hardware. They know they’ll be expected to do something grand that surprises people instead of playing it safe.

      • Ethan_Twain

        I don’t really see the two as exclusive, necessarily. I think that you can have spectacle leveraging HD graphics without becoming too complicated or different in the process. I think that what the fans of 2D Mario games want is clear guidance and familiar Mario trappings. That’s how you appeal to them, and that’s how Mario 3D Land did it. Mario 3D Land is definitely not a game where you’re ever unsure where to go or what to do.

        What the other end of the spectrum wants is to be surprised. To feel like they’re playing a new experience. Not to move away from running and jumping, but to put new sorts of levels around that basic struggle against gravity.

        So your ideal 3D Mario game here is linear, not doing anything too terribly radical with game mechanics, and an absolute stunner to look at. The art might be a little bit tricky because that’s the one place where the two pressures are at odds. “Show me something new” versus “Make sure this is immediately familiar and comfortable to me as a Mario game”. But the pictures painted on the geometry aside, I think it’s possible to make a Mario for all fans still. The divisions between players are not so great as all that. This is hardly a Warcraft RTS versus Warcraft MMO type division.

        • I don’t know… judging from what we’ve seen so far, they do kind of seem to be mutually exclusive.

          I mean, Galaxy, as good as it is, is still rather linear in how the various stages are designed. You only have one major goal at any point in time (collect the Star you entered the stage for) and the planet-like structure meant you were always being guided in a particular direction, even if you didn’t know where to go.

          The only really “open” area in Galaxy was the hub, where you could choose to do galaxies in different orders and run around a little. Also, the hub was kind of badly-designed in my opinion, since it was meant to be explored, but the layout wasn’t complex enough to really make you want to explore every nook and cranny of it. Ultimately, it just felt like an inefficient menu from where you selected stages.

          So, going by your theory, Super Mario Galaxy was already the “ideal” game, especially after further adjustments to both the camera and stage layouts in Mario Galaxy 2.

          Super Mario 64 was different, though. The layout of the stages was fairly interconnected. You could always explore different parts of a stage, even if you couldn’t necessarily access the star pertinent to those portions quite yet. Also, the hub (ie; Bowser’s castle) was a small stage of sorts in itself. That was an actual non-linear Mario game.

          • Ethan_Twain

            Your argument is solid. Maybe what we’ll see is a more divided design. Super Mario Sunshine pushed the ideas of exploration and figuring out your own path as far as Nintendo ever has, and it also had compartmentalized little challenge stages that ended up being the blueprint for the next couple 3D Mario games. That seems like a way to somewhat appeal to all audiences – especially if the game is good about player guidance so that those who don’t want to get lost in larger areas don’t have to.

            Then again, Super Mario Sunshine is not really considered the pinnacle of the Super Mario series… do people really want more of that style? More freedom of motion and exploration and non-linear design? You’ve definitely got your finger on the pulse of enthusiast gaming culture better than me (what with managing a website for them and all) but I haven’t seen evidence of it myself.

          • Barrylocke89

            I haven’t played SMS, so I can’t give any personal opinions on the game, but if the game’s style is as you say, then it’s possible that maybe having stages of both types is the very reason that it’s not considered the pinnacle of the series. Fans of the more open style might have been dismayed about some of the stages having less openness, while people who prefer a more linear approach may thought that SMS was more of the nonlinar style that Mario 64 had introduced, and was turned off.

            Between that and the game being less conventional in other ways (like with the FLUDD system), the end result could have been a game that didn’t quite meet the expectations of anyone on either side.

            Going from that angle, it could also explain why Super Mario Galaxy might have been a turn off for some players, especially the linear side. While people who have played through the entire game can easily state that the game has more guided maps than Mario 64, someone looking at the game for the first time may see the Galaxy’s as “yet another SM64 type”, (especially if you look at a few seconds of gameplay/screenshots of some of the first couple galaxies).

            Super Mario 3D Land is much more visually linear in it’s design, even from just by looking at a screenshot or commercial, so that might have been enough for people who prefer the 2D style to take the plunge.

          • Unfortunately, I haven’t played Super Mario Sunshine, so I can’t really properly envision how that one was laid out in design. I will say I don’t think people have actively “asked” for another Sunshine-style game.

            I actually try not to be as in touch with the enthusiast audience! I mean, yeah, we’re exposed to the enthusiast side everyday because of Siliconera but for things like sales posts and gauging the future of certain games and companies, you kind of need to focus on the larger audience. :)

  • DietSoap

    64 > Sunshine > 3D Land > Galaxy 2 > Galaxy

    3D Land was obviously too easy even by Mario standards, but at least it somewhat brought back a sense of agility that was sorely lacking in the Galaxy games, which is pretty much entirely what makes Mario fun to begin with.

    • Haseyo

      This is honestly the first time I’ve heard anyone hate the Galaxies. I personally place them above 64. I had way more fun with them. But to each his/her own.

      • I usually see people split on either prefer the exploration of 64 and Sunshine or the linear but platform heavy Galaxy games.

        Personally, I hated the sphere level design of Galaxy. That is the only real complaint I have for them. I”m good with either formula I just get hungry for 3D exploration platforms time to time so I always come back to playing 64 more.

      • s07195

        Same here. Guess some people like free exploration more.

    • Here’s my view on this:

      Galaxy 2 > 3D Land > Galaxy > Sunshine > 64

      I don’t know why, but I just can’t bring myself to like 64 at all. I blame Sunshine being my first Mario experience.

    • Watahashi

      For me,

      Sunshine > 64 > Galaxy > Galaxy 2

      I never played 3DLand, so I can’t really comment on that. The atmosphere was where it really counted for me, and how much I enjoyed the games. Sunshine had a very theme park-like excitement to it, and it was so much fun running around Isle Delfino. The ghost hotel is probably my most favorite Mario level ever. The Galaxy games just feel like you’re standing in a massive box with a blackish blue sky. No atmosphere whatsoever, apart from the Star Festival at the beginning of Galaxy 1, which I would’ve liked to see more of.

    • Edzo

      my list is extremely similar to yours. not a big fan of the galaxy series for some reason.

  • pimpalicious

    I liked 3D Land more than the first Galaxy but not Galaxy 2(Yoshi, and more challenging level design made it much better game than Galaxy for me). Anyway I hope 3D Mario U will take it’s own approach and not try to follow the Galaxies or 3D Land.

    • Edzo

      im sorta hoping sunshine 2

      • pimpalicious

        It would be cool if Fludd would come back for another Mario, I wouldn’t want another game with all sunny/tropical levels again though.

        • Edzo

          yeah i agree. bring fludd back but in a new setting

  • I always thought it had to do with portables becoming more important than consoles in Japan.

  • Ulicies

    I probably won’t have as much longevity to its sales as Galaxy, though.

  • Jirin

    Both were good games but I think Galaxy is far better. 3D Land might even be my least favorite Mario game overall, due to weak level design.

  • Elvick

    I loved 3D Land, felt like a 3D Super Mario 3. So, I’m okay with this. Galaxy still sold well.

  • Eric Harris

    That’s because it’s awesome. I completely 100%’d it and I rarely do that. I heard brownie brown had a little hand in it, as well as Paper Mario. The team that did Earthbound put some of their magic in those games, no wonder I 100% completed both.

    • Ethan_Twain

      Just earlier this week Siliconera reported that Brownie Brown is restructuring and being renamed to 1-Up studio. I have no doubt that their exemplary contributions to these recent Super Mario games is the reason why. We’ll see more of this from them in the future – probably very soon :)

  • $29082171

    Funny how the games with the biggest budget, quality and thought put into sell much less than the much more simplistic, copy-pasted-asset ones.

  • Just going to post this here, since there are some folks who enjoyed Mario Sunshine.

  • Matt Brenner

    Galaxy is more challenging for sure, but I’ve hated those types of mario games since 64. It’s boring because I feel like i’m doing the same thing 5 times per level. I like the new levels and new challenges and the feel of progressing

  • William Cole

    Super Mario 3D Land is an awesome game. Played it for 150 hours so far and I got it about 6 months ago. It’s really fun and addicting and you don’t need a Wii-mote to play it. Just regular, standard, no-battery depleting, game play. Haven’t played Galaxy 1 or 2 yet. I am so ashamed because I hear they are some of the greatest games in existence.

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