In March, Nintendo released an Infographic detailing the sales of their various platforms since the beginning. While the Wii U has only been out since the end of 2012 for most the global market (about a year and a half now), its plain to see why its sales feel so disappointing.
No major system since the beginning of the company's history has had so few sales in either hardware or software. Even the Virtual Boy.
Nintendo's best system ever in terms of all the metrics I looked at here is probably the Nintendo DS. It sold over 153M hardware units, nearly 1B software units, had an average of 4.125M units sold per month and sold an average of 6.13 software titles per system.
However, its not quite as bad as it may seem for the Wii U. Even ignoring the Virtual Boy, the Wii U is actually not necessarily the worst performing system to date. It has sold more units per month (on average) than the NES and more software per system than the 3DS, Game Boy, or Game Boy Advance. None of those systems are currently regarded as "failures".
The 3DS was largely regarded as a flop in its first year of sales, but now stands as third best performing hardware by average hardware sales per month.
Given that the Wii U is only about 25% through the typical 60-80 month lifespan for a Nintendo system and is starting to pick up some real traction, it might not be crazy to say that the Wii U might do okay in the long run.
Given the tremendous success of Mario Kart 8 already; from the viral Luigi Death Stare to the half million units sold in Japan in just a month, it seems like the Console's luck might be turning around soon.
To see all the numbers, check out this spreadsheet I put together on Google Sheets.
Nintendo.co.jp via [My Nintendo News](My Nintendo News)