Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Exclusive horror title ´House of the Dead: Overkill´ to mark turning point for Wii?

The recently announced Wii exclusive House of the Dead: Overkill is the latest in a long line of mature titles for Wii, perhaps finally marking a turning point for the console, both in terms of the public's perception and from the industry's point of view. Have a look at this most recent survival horror game:

Wii´s portfolio of mature games is growing fast. However, public perception has not yet caught onto this trend. Quite the contrary, in fact. Especially in Germany, where a large number of mature Wii titles are not available, the Wii is known for Super Mario, Wii Sports or Wii Fit and, genre-wise, not much else. This is ironic, because Nintendo's console has, in fact, become a hotbed for games aimed at an older audience. And contrary to public perception, between a third and half of those are exclusives.

13 survival horror Wii games

Let us chalk it up. Soon, there will be a whopping thirteen survival horror titles out for Wii, six of which are exclusives. And I am not including ´MadWorld´, ´Manhunt 2´ or ´Fragile´ here. The former title, also recently announced, caused some controversy in the mainstream press. The U.K.'s Daily Mail and The Sun, as well as Australia's Herald Sun all noted that the Wii's family friendly image was soon to topple. Those newspapers enjoy a readership of millions and so their articles will undoubtedly become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Just as a reminder, here is the current tally of all mature games for the Wii (and mature does not necessarily mean the rating here).

Survival horror

House of the Dead: Overkill (exclusive)
House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return
Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (exclusive)
Resident Evil 4 Wii edition
Resident Evil 0 (Japan only so far)
Obscure: The Aftermath
Cursed Mountain (exclusive)
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse (exclusive)
Escape from Bug Island (exclusive)
Sadness (exclusive)
Alone in the Dark (questionable quality)
Untitled Suda51 / Shinji Mikami project

Outrageous violence

MadWorld (exclusive)
Manhunt 2

Shooters / Other action

Ghost Squad (exclusive)
Call of Duty 3
Call of Duty: World at War
Medal of Honor: Vanguard
Medal of Honor: Heroes 2
Brothers in Arms: Double Time
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent
The Godfather: Blackhand Edition
Scarface: The World Is Yours
Bully: Scholarship Edition
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (exclusive)
The Conduit (exclusive)
Red Steel (exclusive)
Red Steel 2 (exclusive)
Tenchu 4 (exclusive)
No More Heroes (exclusive)
Mortal Kombat Armageddon
Castlevania Judgment
Rogue Trooper: The Quartz Zone Massacre
Far Cry: Vengeance (questionable quality)
Target: Terror (questionable quality)

The list speaks for itself. The Wii has a very diverse portfolio but there is no shortage of sometimes highly brutal action. In fact, no competing console can offer as many survival horror titles as the Wii. Why is that? Simply because they sell.

Action on Wii sells

Both ´Resident Evil 4 Wii edition´ and ´Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles´ shipped more than a million units each. Apparently, ´Red Steel´ and ´Metroid Prime 3: Corruption´ also sold more than a million, with ´The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return´ and ´Ghost Squad´ selling around half a million units.

Public opinion may soon realise this, as will the industry at large. Speaking about their motivation to bring ´Dead Rising´ to the Wii, Capcom noted that they "wanted to bring one of its premier franchises (possibly THE premier franchise when you look at the Japanese market) to the broader audience that the Wii represents." And they continue to tease Wii owners that they "only know about half the games we have in development."

Abandoning Mario

Nintendo has been very careful to market their console as a family friendly one only. In fact, for the very first time, ´Mario´ titles took a step back from the spotlight and became second choice, as they were no longer advertised as the cream of the crop. Nintendo staff told me last year that they wanted the so-called ´Touch Generation´ titles like ´Big Brain Academy´ and ´Wii Fit´ to be associated with the console instead. Mario and Metroid, they believed, did not need to be marketed aggressively and would pretty much sell themselves. And they were right.

While Iwata may publically apologize to the hardcore crowd and reaffirm that core games are in development, the company's focus on casual titles in terms of marketing is carefully planned and is, internally, not seen as a mistake that requires such an apology. This is all part of the blue ocean strategy. Their rationale regarding traditional titles was and is that they do not require a large marketing campaign. And with the gaming press falling in love with stylish, Tarantino-esque titles like ´House of the Dead: Overkill´ and the mainstream press vocally condemning games like ´MadWorld´, Nintendo can indeed sit back and re-run their ´Wii Fit´ ads.

Thanks to: Kotaku, VGChartz, Nintendo Everything, Capcom, Eurogamer


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