Holiday Wii Sales Rise or Fall? Flip a Coin, Mario

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Thanksgiving week sales of Nintendo's Wii plummeted in the US despite a $50 price cut designed to reinvigorate the kinetically renowned console. In a press statement, the company revealed it sold about 550,000 units of the console during the holiday week, or nearly a third fewer than the nearly 800,000 units sold during the same timeframe last year.

That sounds bad for Nintendo, and in a sense it is, especially given sales figures loosed from Sony and Microsoft indicating both systems performed well during the crucial inaugural holiday sales period. That rules out the economy as a major mitigating factor and starts pointing to less appetizing explanations, like demographic saturation, or worse--dissatisfaction with a relentless deluge of mediocre software.

But look at it another way, and Nintendo's sales are ramping back up after months of underperforming. The company still reportedly outsold both Microsoft and Sony in total units moved, and as long as Nintendo keeps selling more, it doesn’t really matter if they're ahead by a car's length or an ocean liner's--more is clearly more here, especially when you're likely the only player still making a profit on your hardware, price drop or no.

Granted last year Nintendo shocked by selling over 2 million Wii units, but are we going to hold that against them? When with roughly half as many units this November, they're still outselling the competition by sizable margins?

Sure, Nintendo's stock is off a few points on the news, and assuming the company really did sell half as many Wii units this November as last, it's hard to imagine them making their forecast of 14.25 million units for their fiscal second half.

But what about the DS and DSi handhelds, which Nintendo says sold over a million units during the Thanksgiving sales window? The company sold about 800,000 units during the same period last year, up from 350,000 units in 2007. Not only is the handled accelerating into recent economic curves, it stands poised to surpass the PS2 as the bestselling video game system of all time.

So yes, the Wii is stumbling a bit, but it's too soon to pronounce it formally ailing--not when it's still pulling pole position in the monthly sales numbers. Look at it this way: The PS3 and Xbox 360 have never been better-priced, library-rich, or feature-loaded…and they're still settling for Nintendo's tail lights.

I rarely power up my Wii (Metroid Prime Trilogy and New Super Mario Bros. Wii being two recent exceptions) but that just means precisely what it did two or three years ago when the system started outperforming expectations: I'm not the droids Nintendo's after, and in all this time, guys like me haven't really hurt their bottom line sales growth one iota.

Follow me on Twitter @game_on

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