Mario < Master Chief?

by: Chuck -
A few weeks ago John and I talked about if Super Mario Galaxy would outsell Halo 3 in it's first week or not. My guess was that Galaxy would sell well but not nearly as well as Halo 3. Nintendo hadn't really ramped up the marketing machine (Mario didn't adorn any soda cans or fast food containers) and the game didn't seem to be nearly event that Microsoft made the Halo 3 launch out to be. John countered with the fact that Mario is an industry icon and that nearly every citizen of Japan would be out and buying the game the instant it came out.

Well it looks like I was right as the initial numbers for Super Mario Galaxy are in and the game sold 500,000 copies in the US it's first week. If you add in the 250,000 copies the game sold in Japan it's first week you get around 750,000 copies sold worldwide (the numbers are from Wiki so take them with a grain of salt). Now compare this with the roughly 4 million copies of Halo 3 that Microsoft sold at launch ($300M in sales, divided by an average cost of $75 gives you 4M units moved). Of course this includes European sales but even if you include 250,000 units for Europe, Master Chief still outsold Mario by nearly 4:1.

This isn't a measure of the quality of the games but just an observation based on the sales numbers. There are a lot of things that are popular that aren't that good (American Idol springs to mind) but it's interesting to see that Nintendo wasn't able to get the fanboys out in droves to buy the game. Nintendo can't look at hardware sales as there are more Wii's on the market than 360's. Price isn't a factor as Super Mario Galaxy cost $10 less than Halo 3 (more if you super-sized to one of the collectors editions).

Instead I think you have to look at how effective the Microsoft marketing machine is and how they turned the launch of the game into a major event. Sure it cost them a lot of money to promote the game but the strategy has certainly paid off in spades.

This may also be a reflection of the kind of consumer that's buying the Wii. These are the people that are buying Carnival Games and Wii Play and apparently can't be bothered to pick up one of the best, most innovative games on the Wii. 750,000 units sold is nothing to sneeze at but you have to wonder what the long term implications of this difference will be.
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