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Mario Kart, Pokémon, Smash lead million-seller list, as Nintendo sales slip year-over-year (update)

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In the nine-month period that ended Dec. 31, 2014, 12 Nintendo games sold more than a million units each, the company disclosed today in a supplemental earnings release document (PDF link).

However, according to a representative from Nintendo, those numbers reflect "sell-in" values, meaning that they account for the total number of units sold to retailers. Those sales are distinguished from "sell-through" values, which denote sales from retailers to consumers. For a variety of reasons, retailers could return some portion of "sell-in" stock to Nintendo before it ever reaches customers. The Nintendo representative told Polygon that the company typically uses sell-through numbers in press releases.

Yesterday, Nintendo's latest financial results for the nine-month period ended Dec. 31, 2014 disclosed an operating income of 31.6 billion yen ($266.9 million), despite an 11.3 percent decrease in net sales year-over-year. Today's supplemental material details software sales for titles that sold a minimum of 1 million units each. Those sales figures account for boxed retail games, downloads and units bundled with hardware.

From April 1 to Dec. 31, 2014, Nintendo 3DS games accounted for eight of the 12 titles that sold at least a million units each. The top three include Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire (9.35 million), Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (6.19 million) and Tomodachi Life (2.11 million).

Wii U games accounted for the remaining four. Its top three games in terms of unit sales include Mario Kart 8 (4.77 million), Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (3.39 million) and Super Mario 3D World (3.39 million).

Nintendo disclosed 16 million-selling games in the equivalent report last year (PDF link).

In the nine-month period ending Dec. 31, 2013, the top three million-selling 3DS games were Pokémon X and Pokémon Y (11.61 million), Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3.52 million) and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (2.18 million). In the same 2013 period, the three top-selling Wii U games were Super Mario 3D World (1.94 million), New Super Mario Bros. U (1.74 million) and New Super Luigi U (1.51 million). Mario Kart Wii also appeared on the 2013 sales list with 1 million units sold. The game did not appear on the equivalent 2014 list.

From April-December 2014, Nintendo's million sellers totaled 35.36 million units. In the same 2013 period, sales totaled 37.3 million units. That represents a decrease of 1.94 million units, or 5.2 percent.

Last October, Nintendo announced that Mario Kart 8 had sold 3.49 million units as of Sept. 30, 2014, at a time when the Wii U had sold 7.29 million u. That gave the kart racer a 47.87 percent attach rate, meaning that nearly half those who owned a Wii U also owned the kart racer.

Today's sales figures pegged Mario Kart 8 at 4.77 million total units sold through Dec. 31. Based on previously disclosed figures, sales from Oct. 1 though Dec. 31 totaled 1.28 million units.

With 9.2 million Wii U consoles sold through Dec. 31, Mario Kart 8's attach rate increased nearly four percent to 51.84 percent. As of Dec. 31, 2014, more than half of Wii U owners also owned Mario Kart 8.

Update: Shortly after publication, a representative from Nintendo confirmed to Polygon that sales figures are "sell-in" values. We've updated the article to reflect that and explain its significance.