It's called gravity. Everything that goes up must come down. And finally that ol' sales gravity seems to have caught up with the DS. But it's not Pocket Gamer's prognosticators who are making it up. No, this revelation comes direct from Nintendo's own beancounters.
Hacking through the pages of Nintendo's financial report for its FY07-08 (April 1st 2007 – March 31st 2008), the situation is clear: DS has been an incredible success for Nintendo and will continue to make the company a lot of cash in future but just not as much as it has in the past. This is mainly due to the astounding commercial performance of DS – after a certain period of time, everyone who even wants one a little bit has got one.
In FY06-07, Nintendo sold 23.6 million DSs. In FY07-08, it sold 30.3 million DSs. It's a massive amount – probably the largest number of games console ever sold in a 12 month period. But, it's also a stat that disguises the fact that sales in Japan have already peaked, dropping from 9.1 million to 6.4 million, which is a significant change.
This year, the fall was filled by the continuing sales growth in the US and Europe, where 9.5 million more DSs were sold in FY07-08 compared to FY06-07. But those sort of numbers are not sustainable. Indeed, Nintendo's own predictions say that 'only' 28 million DSs will be sold in FY08-09 – still a huge number, of course – but a fall of 7.5 per cent year-on-year.
What's much more interesting, however, is the news when it comes to game sales. This year, they are up massively – 50 per cent, in fact, from 124 million games sold worldwide to 186 million. Despite the fact Nintendo expects another 28 million DSs consoles to be sold next year, though, game sales are only predicted to rise by 0.7 per cent to 187 million – i.e. game sales per DS will fall sharply.
So as we previously commented with respect to hardware saturation, so it is with games. There are only so many versions of Brain Training and Nintendogs that the old and the young are prepared to buy (despite all the good work being done by the likes of Nintendo and Ubisoft).
But if you want to see the most telling example that the DS market is saturated, just consider the number of new games released last year. In FY06-07, 591 new DS games were released (the majority in Japan). Yet over the past 12 months, 1,095 new games were shipped with almost every territory, doubling the number of new titles released; a completely ridiculous and unsustainable situation that's seen far too many cat, dog, pony, dronkey, horse, fish, vet, fashion, lifestyle, language and crossword games released.
Frankly, the new Game Boy just can't come soon enough for us Nintendo fanboys.