Nintendo’s Ten Highest Selling Video Game Systems

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Try to write a “highest selling video game systems” list for any other company besides Nintendo. Even as Atari and Sega have faded and Xbox and PlayStation have risen up, only Nintendo has survived, and has produced enough consoles to populate a list like this. They’ve had their share of smash hits with only a few misses. Take a look at the list below and see where your favorite Nintendo consoles ended up, and you may be surprised with a few of the entries.

10. Wii U (6.17 million)

It stands to reason that the Wii U would be Nintendo’s least-selling piece of hardware to date, given the fact that it’s also its newest. The system has been out for little more than a year, meant to be a successor to the smash-hit Wii. But even though it’s early in its life-cycle, the Wii U has been a sales disappointment for Nintendo. Despite high quality first party games, the Wii U has failed to meet Nintendo’s expectations and has resulted in disappointing fiscal results for the company. With 2014′s release of Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros, things may start to turn around for the console, even in the face of its new-gen competition, the PS4 and Xbox One.

[Photo via Nintendo]

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9. Gamecube (21.74 million)

Outside of completely failed experiments like the Virtual Boy, Gamecube is probably Nintendo’s “softest” piece of hardware, and was something of a miss for the company. Despite being arguably  the most powerful console of its generation, the Gamecube couldn’t compete with the likes of Sony’s PlayStation 2. While many games on the system are now regarded as classics, at the time the system’s oddly configured controller and mini-disc format was a turn-off for some. While it may not be considered an outright bomb for Nintendo, it was not one of its strongest hardware offerings from a sales perspective.

[Photo via Nintendo]

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8. Nintendo 64 (32.93 million)

The previous generation’s console, the Nintendo 64, has fared better over the years. The last Nintendo system to use cartridges, the Nintendo 64 performed admirably and remains one of the most reliable video game consoles in existence today. The N64 was a pretty significant leap forward for Nintendo in terms of graphical capability, a huge upgrade from the SNES, and it ushered in the era of 3D, polygon-based games alongside the PlayStation.

[Photo via Nintendo]

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7. Nintendo 3DS (43.33 million)

While the Wii U may be struggling, its handheld counterpart is faring quite a bit better. As you’ll see higher up in this list, Nintendo’s greatest successes have been its handheld devices, and the 3DS hopes to follow in the footsteps of the hardware that came before it. Even with these sales, however, the 3DS has fallen short of Nintendo’s sales expectations by a slim margin all the same. While it’s performed well, it hasn’t quite been the smash hit Nintendo was hoping for either. It continues to amass a strong catalog of games, but it has a ways to go to catch some of its handheld predecessors.

[Photo via Nintendo]

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6. SNES (49.10 million)

Nintendo’s follow-up to the NES remains as one of their best selling consoles. The SNES represents a time when Nintendo was directly at war with SEGA and their Genesis, but it’s obvious who the long term winner was (and short term as well, the Genesis racked up 40 million sales in its lifespan). The SNES produced many of Nintendo’s best games, and you’ll find many still in fans’ houses today, working as well as the day it was purchased.

[Photo via Nintendo]

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5. NES (61.91 million)

The console that started it all for Nintendo is also one of their best sellers. The original Nintendo Entertainment System racked up over 60 million sales during the course of its life, and brought many icons like Mario, Donkey Kong and others into players’ homes for the first time. The success of the NES paved the way for everything else Nintendo did afterward, and it is the cornerstone of the entire company, at least now that it’s moved from trading cards (what Nintendo made originally) to video games.

[Photo via Nintendo]

Paul lives in New York with his beautiful and supportive wife. He writes for Forbes and his work also appears on IGN, The Daily Dot, Unreality Magazine, TVOvermind and more. It's a slow day if he's written less than 10,000 words.
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