Nintendo's first new franchise in years is a huge success

NintendoSplatoon for Wii U.

Nintendo’s new franchise doesn’t star an Italian plumber, or an overzealous gorilla, or a sword-wielding hero on an epic quest. Instead, it stars a kid who’s also a squid, and your goal is to cover the ground in brightly coloured paint before your opponents do.

The game is “Splatoon,” and it’s great.

But don’t just take our word for it — the game has already moved over 1 million copies, despite launching less than one month ago. That’s big news for a company that rarely invests in brand new franchises. In fact, Nintendo almost made “Splatoon” a game starring Super Mario.

“There are around 7.5 million Wii Us in the installed base,” Wedbush Securities research analyst Michael Pachter told Business Insider. “Penetrating more than 10% of all owners in less than a month is a pretty big deal.”

More directly: for every 10 Wii U owners, more than one owns a copy of “Splatoon.” And in the world of video games, that’s a huge rate of software sales to hardware installed base (the “attach rate”). Pachter put it in historical context:

“Halo” sold to around half of original Xbox owners, and “Grand Theft Auto 3” sold to around 25% of PlayStation 2 owners at the time, but each took more than a month to get there…it’s on the low end for a Nintendo title, but very high for new IP.

Which is to say that, yes, a Mario version of the same game likely would have sold better based on name recognition alone. But in the long run, Nintendo has established a new franchise, and one that could go on to reap rewards for years to come.

And in the short run, Nintendo’s finally got a hit game in a new franchise on its ailing home console, the Wii U.

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