Saturday, October 04, 2008

Wii tops European charts, but will third parties care?

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:

United Kingdom

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


Anonymous said...

well I mean let's face it Wii simply didn't get truely ambitious third party efforts that weren't ports or multiplatform releases with the weakest versions usually hitting Wii to begin with. Let's take monster hunter 3 as an example - mh3 is what I consider a truely ambitious ground up third party effort. Not only does mh3 sport the most powerful graphics engine ever on a ninty platform by far it's also handled by a very big team which reinforces the importance of the project for its publisher Capcom. Did we ever see projects of this scope in gamecubes whole lifecycle except for Resi4 which hit the console way too late? Well at least I can't recall seeing them. It's their own fault - they didn't even try and now they are starting to understand how to approach and treat the ninty crowd correctly IALS

Jarrod said...

What are you talking about? Doug’s comments make perfect, logical sense. Valve are a clever publisher and your comments are unjust.

The Xbox360 has a more established shooter market: Fact. The Xbox360 most closely resembles the PC platform, which is Vavle’s primary development platform: Fact.

There is a reason the PS3 version of The Orange Box was farmed out. Valve don’t have a PS3 team nor the resources to work on this platform. They chose the Xbox360, and have had immense success on the platform, for the above two very, very good reasons. The development is the easiest (yes, easier than porting their titles to the Wii), their games retain full quality, and an audience exist.

And he’s spot on about the user base. Half-Life has a much, MUCH larger history on PC than any Nintendo platform. Releasing Half-Life 2 on the Xbox strengthened the Half-Life saga relationship with console owners, and many Xbox360 owners purchase The Orange Box on that platform due to outdated PC’s and preferral for that control scheme.

Releasing on the Wii wouldn’t be a particularly clever move. Software sales for the HL saga are strong as is, and a Wii port would have to be ‘dumbed down’ in terms of visuals. The millions of Half-Life fans, I assure you, would rather play the PC version or Xbox360 version over a Wii port. Sure, it would be good for those who don’t own a good PC or an Xbox360, but the game’s potential success on the platform is highly debatable.

I really like your blog, and have been reading it far longer than I’d care to mention, but come on man. You’re a good journalist, but Lombardi’s points were all absolutely spot-on for Valve. Its very unfair, not to mention wrong, to criticize him for this. Besides, Newell has already expressed very keen interest in developing a Wii game, and has spoken very highly of the platform in the past. It’s not like they’ve bitched about Nintendo or the Wii, or criticized Nintendo’s direction.

Comparing to Epic is just wrong. That developer, on the other hand, is well known for show-boating engines and visual achievements over gameplay, and have done so for a long time. Of course they are going to pick a more powerful system, as without the grunt their gameplay will shine through as the generic stuff it usually is.

Criticism where criticism is due. Valve simply don't deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Well jarrod to tell you the truth I'd much rather play a ground up valve title on wii with its vastly superior control method than on 360 regardless of what makes more sense to you,valve or the 360 shooter market. I understand what you are getting at and how it would make more sense from a Business standpoint to stick to the well established 360 shooter audience as it seems to be more of a safe bet however that doesn't change the fact that I like many others would rather see it happening on Wii IALS

EatChildren said...


That's exactly my point. I'd much rather see Valve build a brand new Wii title from the ground up for the Wii, not see them port the Half-Life saga or any spin-offs.

People seem to forget that developers do not have unlimited money, time, and stuff. Many developers would like to do projects on other platforms or in other genres, but are simply too busy with current projects.

Valve's success is currently heavily weight on PC, and considerably so on the Xbox360 as well. 100% of their developmental resources are dedicated to these two platforms. They don't have a PS3 team, and they don't have a Wii team.

In order to have a Wii team they'd need to either expand their company (time, money, and management) or segment their current team and create a Wii team out of existing personal. Both options aren't very good.

I would love to see Valve tackle a Wii project from the ground up. They are a hugely talented developer and I'm sure their efforts would be appreciated. It would also be nice for those who have never experienced Half-Life, and only own a Wii, to one day play a port of the HL saga.

But, end of the day, I'd much rather Valve do what they are capable of doing. I don't want them to take investment risks unless they are confident, and I don't want them to split their current team up to work on projects that can wait for another day.

Oh well. The future will tell how things go.

Falafelkid said...

Hi Jarrod.

First of all, thanks so much for your comments. I greatly appreciate well-argued criticism like yours.

The Xbox360 has a more established shooter market: Fact. The Xbox360 most closely resembles the PC platform, which is Vavle’s primary development platform: Fact.

Absolutely, I don't disagree at all. I simply may not have made my point clear enough. I see a great contradiction in Doug arguing against the Wii as a lucrative platform for the above reasons, but then acknowledging that install base is paramount. That is simply a contradiction in terms.

If install base is everything, then Valve needs to switch all console development efforts to the Wii. If Valve deems the Wii not the right sort of platform for their games for one reason or another, then install base obviously is not paramount. That's all I was wanting to point out there.

And I greatly appreciate Doug as a professional and a person. I have interviewed both him and Gabe a few times and it is always a pleasure. These people have created the most immersive action games of all time and they are very low-key and humble.

They are also extremely clever business people. They have used their phenomenal success with ´Half Life´ to become financially independent of publishers and which other studio can claim that? All their recent games were self-funded and this put them in a position to freely swap Vivendi for Electronic Arts and then sod them all and launch Steam.

I would never say a bad word about Valve (at least I don't think there will ever be sufficient reason to do so). But in the interview, Doug simply contradicted himself. I hope that makes my point clearer. Sorry if I didn't put that across the first time around.

Anonymous said...

Hi Fal,

You are doing a great job of keeping the news coming. I got an idea when looking at your blog. It is time for you to update it, brother. You have way to much old crap on it. IGN just did an update, so should you. It is time. Get rid of all the old articles and crap and give your website a new template or something. Make it look nicer. Hate to see what your house looks like. You are one of those people who probably keep everything. :)


Anonymous said...

I have to say I am pleased with whats on the horizon.....lots of games to look forward to...they are really addressing what went wrong last reminds me of the NES days....look, I give credit where credit is due, I didn't complain just for the hell of it....I was really pissed off...but with the anouncements made there is no reason for me to complain anymore...the line up is solid:

-Tenchu4, /Cursed Mountain /Monster Hunter 3/ Fragile/ Call Of Duty 5/Mad World/Red Steel 2/ Factor 5 Next/Fatal Frame 4/Retro Next/ Sonic Unleashed and Black Knight/Street Fighter/ Rygar/ Sin And Punishment 2/Overkill/Chop til You Drop/ Punch Out/Sam and Max/2D Wario/Conduit/ De Blob etc.-

Most of them exclusive and those are just the ones on top of my head right now- sounds good to me

truly yours

Anonymous said...

ok guys I have just watched all the new Conduit videos on various websites and I have drawn two conclusions - either I'm totally insane and unable to judge OR Conduit does INDEED look EXTREMELY HORRIBLE - Everything from environments to enemies - it all looks DEVASTATINGLY BAD to me I'm afraid - and it's not just the art style alone thats so terrible it doesn't even seem to be technically superior to virtually anything I've seen before - Seriously either I'm completely out of my mind or this game is all marketing hype playin tricks on peoples minds. Excuse me - I know its pre pre alpha blablabla and what not BUT, why show off sonething then at all? I don't get it -Why all those AWFUL screenshots?they make HV look like utter fools - to me those shots represent the exact opposite of what they promise and what they are trying to achive on Wii! Those graphics don't even match stuff from years ago I'm afraid - in its current state Conduit looks like a super high end turbo Half Life 1 engine mod made by some amateur pc cracks but without the great Valve style -thats how I'd describe it. I see absolutely NOTHING in the shots or the videos that justifies the hype around it, really- I'm extremely confused - I don't know how to cope with it- So far, Conduit has left me totally mystified -again either it must be an utter gigantic marketingploy to build hype around a subpar product or I've completly lost it - but I guess it's probably the latter ;-)

truly yours

Grandmaster B said...

You dont need to continually bash it. I said originally I dont see why people jaw drop over it, but I dont keep raving on about it.

Street Fighter for Wii? More details please, didnt know about this.

Grandmaster B said...

Seriously, do you ever have anything positive to say here?

All I here you say most of the time is negative things.

I had a look at the latest tech demo of Conduit and it definitely looks a lot more impressive than the first thing they showed cause I was like "yeh ok" when I saw that.

If it has good controls like MOH2 heroes, graphics are looking good for a Wii game (it has nice effects etc) than I think it will be good.

COD5 also looks very good from the video I saw at E3, very impressed with that too.

I didnt even like FPS b4 this gen and with the Wii controls, they are a lot more fun to play when the controls are good like MOH2 heroes was.

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best price wii said...

The wii is on top as it should be. has to be the best 21st century console on the market! Well Done wii!

Kony said...

No matter how many Wii's have been sold, the system will eventually FAIL!!

The system is too underpowered for developers to make any games on. The only games that can ever be on the Wii are just shit! Quality is impossible on the system as shitty as the Wii!!

Wii fails!!

- Kony

Falafelkid said...

My little phoney.

I appreciate you commenting so dilligently on every post here. That is just what I expect from a grade A village idiot. Go and entertain us real gamers with your staggering incompetence and unrivalled lunacy. Oh, and don't forget those archived entries, hear?

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