Sales of Nintendo's Wii consoles and games are soaring to new heights in Europe, after the console established a clear lead in Japan and North America. In the United Kingdom, Nintendo has managed to sell 2,5 million Wii consoles over the last twelve months, GfK Chart Track reports (via Games Industry). The total UK sales look like this (up until September 2008):
Wii: 3,6 million units
Xbox360: 2,3 million units
PlayStation3: 1,4 million units
The Brits only just voted the Wii "Best Gaming Technology". If this sales trend continues, the Wii will become the UK's market leader by a long shot.
High Street retailer The Game Group (...) estimates that by Christmas the installed base for the Wii will reach 4.9 million units, the Xbox 360 2.8 million and the PS3 1.9 million units.
DS units are expected to climb a further 1.2 million to 8.3 million and the PSP to 3.1 million.
That would mean that by Christmas, there would be more Wii consoles in the UK than the other consoles combined.
Wii also dominates the European software charts. Here is the UK data for the week ending September 27:
1. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Wii, PS2, PSP, PS3, Xbox360, DS)
2. Wii Fit (Wii)
3. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
4. Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway (PS3, Xbox360)
5. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 (Wii, Xbox360, PS3, PSP, PS2)
6. Pure (Xbox360, PS3, PC)
7. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Wii, PS2, PS3, Xbox360, PC)
8. Mercenaries 2: World in Flames (PS3, Xbox360, PS2, PC)
9. Lego Indiana Jones: Original Adventures (Wii, PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox360, PC, DS)
10. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (PC)
Nintendo dominates the the German and Spanish software charts more clearly:
1. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
2. Wii Fit (Wii)
3. Drakensang: The Dark Eye (PC)
4. Brain Training (DS)
5. Mario Kart (DS)
6. Mario & Sonic at the Olympics (DS)
7. Guitar Hero: On Tour (DS)
8. Super Smash Bros Brawl (Wii)
9. More Brain Training (DS)
10. Summer Athletics (DS)
1. Wii Fit (Wii)
2. Beijing 2008: The Olympic Games (PS3)
3. Wii Play (Wii)
4. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
5. Buzz! Master Quiz (PSP)
6. Super Smash Bros Brawl (Wii)
7. Guitar Hero: On Tour (DS)
8. Cooking Guide: Can't Decide What to Eat? (DS)
9. Wall-E (DS)
10. Brain Training (DS)
On a sidenote, the Xbox360 has outsold the PS3 in Japan this week for four weeks running.
Third parties ignorant of Wii's success
Despite this overwhelming success, the perception of the console on the part of studios and publishers does not yet match up. Industry veterans like Doug Lombardi, spokesman for Valve (´Half Life´, ´Team Fortress´), still favour the Xbox360 among the three next-gen consoles. Lombardi spoke to CVG:
We got a 360 team together because it's really close to the PC and is shooter-friendly - the audience has been into shooters for years.
So it was natural for us to decide that the first console we develop for internally would be the 360. But now that we've got a strong 360 team we're starting to look at ways to expand out business.
It's much easier to take our games to the PS3, because of the horsepower of that hardware, than it is to the Wii because Wii is very different with its input devices and lower tech.
If we were going for the Wii we'd have to go for a whole new game that's designed for that platform. That's an expensive proposition and riskier than just getting some good PS3 developers on board.
It's something that we're still evaluating, but certainly the install base is the thing that rules all. If there's an opportunity there you've got to take it seriously.
The above comments do not even make real sense. Lombardi acknowledges that Wii is the clear market leader but prefers the Xbox360 and PS3 for their shooter friendly user base and their relative ease of porting over PC code. Wii games would have to be built from the ground up and this would be too large a financial risk, he notes, which is not true in the light of the phenomenal hardware sales. In the end, Lombardi even makes this very point, saying that "install base (...) rules all". Well, if it does, where's my ´Half Life 2´ on Wii? Where's my ´Portal´ on the console? I have been thinking about crowbar shells for the Wiimote ever since the controller was announced.
Lomardi's confused comments resonate with what Epic's Mark Rein said last October: "the big software dollars right now are being earned on Xbox360", adding that Wii would only be attractive insofar as a company could sell their engine directly to Nintendo.
First party success keeps third parties away
Of course, the main reason why publishers are hesitant is that Nintendo is not just the market leader in terms of hardware, it is also the world's top software publisher (considering annual turnover, number of releases, average review score, an anonymous reputation survey, and detailed feedback from business partners). Having to compete with Mario, Link and Pokèmon is a huge deterrent for third parties.
Mature titles to turn the tide
But what will it take to change the industry minds? My straight answer is that the Wii has huge economic potential for third parties when it comes to mature games. I have argued before that the public and industry perception of the Wii platform is bound to change soon with a wealth of horror and other mature titles coming out. And Nintendo is not capitalizing on this software segment at all, currently leaving it largely up to Capcom and SEGA to fill the void.
A grand economic success of titles like ´The Conduit´, ´House of the Dead: Overkill´ or ´MadWorld´ will surely become examples the entire industry will follow. On the other hand, if these titles sell poorly, the Wii will get less and less mature titles and will become a casual console. The former scenario is the most likely, though, I believe.
EDIT Nintendo has addressed this very problem at a special showcase event where the company showed off its upcoming software lineup, both first and third party. Among the titles presented to the press were High Voltage Software's ´The Conduit´, ´Call of Duty: World at War´, ´Dead Rising: Chop til you Drop´ and ´MadWorld´, as Agence France Press (AFP) reports (via Yahoo news).
High Voltage was part of a cadre of studios that joined Nintendo in San Francisco on Friday to demonstrate that the Wii's motion-sensing controllers can simulate guns and swords as well as golf clubs and orchestra batons. (...)
"No matter what you hear, we also believe in games that please the core," Nintendo marketing chief Cammie Dunaway said during a two-day event focused on Wii games heading for store shelves in coming months. (...)
Wii has been referred to as the "other system" gamers buy as a lightweight option to heavyweight Sony Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.
"It's up to us as publishers to show what is wrong with those stigmas," Jason Allen of CapCom said, noting each of the competing videogame consoles gets unfairly pigeon-holed. (...)
"Nintendo loves hardcore gamers; we really do," Nintendo spokesman Charlie Scibetta told AFP.
"'Chop til you Drop' and 'MadWorld' might not be games for kids, but there are a lot of people out there that want a mature game experience. You can get that on the Wii."
Source: GfK Chart Track (via Games Industry), GameDaily, videogaming247, Games Industry, CVG, Gamasutra, AFP (via Yahoo news)
Thanks to: GameDaily