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The console war is really heating up between Sony and Nintendo, as some analysts believe the PS4 will outsell the Wii U globally before spring is out.
Things first seemed like they were set in stone when the Wii U launched in 2012 with a year-head start on the competition. Most thought that Nintendo had the eighth gen in the bag, but that didn't happen. The Wii U sold fast and furious through the holiday season like Vin Diesel in a Dodge Charger, but fizzled out heading into early 2013 much like Taylor Kitsch's career.
Nintendo further took a back seat as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were announced in February and May, respectively, where the Wii U's sales floundered amidst the unveiling of Sony and Microsoft's offerings like fresh water trout on the wooden deck of a schooner.
Slowly and steadily Nintendo moved SKUs globally, but at a pace that spelled doom on the lips of many analysts like 1999ers were duck-tapping their house for the Mayan apocalypse that never happened. The talk was so dire amongst the market scholars that there were calls for Nintendo to forfeit the hardware race and relegate themselves to whoring out brands, franchises and names like Sega and Atari.
Things brightened up for the Big 'N', however. They started rolling out first-party titles, administering dev kits to indie developers, helping secure third-party support from single A studios and prepping to unleash AAA first-party games for the entirety of 2014.
Sales surged from September onward for the Wii U. Nintendo even managed to end 2013 by besting Microsoft in head-to-head sales between the Wii U and Xbox One. Yet it isn't enough.
According to Gamer Fitnation, popular video game industry analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities, Michael Pachter, has already spelled an end to Nintendo's reign in 2014. He's also estimated that their market share will be sucked up and usurped by Sony's PlayStation 4.
The Pach-Man stated that...
“I am pretty sure the Wii U will still be ahead in March, but PS4 is going to pass it in 2014 at some point. PS4 will only be at 5-5.5 million by March, Wii U should be a hair ahead of that. Probably April or May,”
This estimate may not be too far off. However, that's assuming the PlayStation 4 continues to dominate the sales charts globally. There's no doubt that it's moving massive numbers on a week-to-week basis, as noted in the recent revelation of the PS4's amazing sales in the UK, trumping the Xbox One by more than 166,000 SKUs.
Given the fact that the Wii U has surpassed the four-million install-base mark and was – on the week before Christmas – moving more than 300,000 SKUs for the week alone, it's safe to say that Nintendo might be able to stave off Sony's encroaching antics to pilfer market share away from the Wii U through the early parts of spring, at least.
The main thing, however, is that Nintendo isn't sitting still. They still have hard hitters on the horizon to match Sony's first and third-party offerings in the spring, for every inFamous: Second Son there's a Super Smash Bros. U, and for every Order: 1886 there's a Bayonetta 2, and so on and so forth.
The main scale-tipper will fall to which first-party titles will carry more weight with consumers, both casual and core. Will Nintendo's fight for the hardcore win them over the first quarter of 2014 or will it go to Sony? Will the Wii U's software attachment rate be enough to bring back AAA third-party support or will they be able to make do with indies and mid-budget studios? It's a fascinating time folks, indeed.
For Nintendo to stay in the lead however, they're going to need to hang on just a little bit longer until first-party support arrives.
Hang in there, Nintendo... hang in there! Help is on the way!