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Cold, Hard Wii Truths

After three years of low-quality Wii software not moving from store shelves, retailers such as Target and Best Buy have had enough. According to Gamasutra, many retailers are refusing to pick up new Wii software if said games are mini game collections. This flies directly in the face of the common misconception that cheap-o Wii software sells in droves.

The article goes on to examine the current Wii environment and the on-going struggle of third parties to make a dent in the market. With hardware sales down 14% from 2008 and looking to drop even further, publishers are coming to grips with some hard truths. Chris Kramer, Capcom senior director of communications and community, notes that simple casual games hit it big in the beginning but not as much once the market became saturated.

“You can no longer say [the Wii audience] is solely casual gamers or that only E-rated games own the space,” mentions Kramer. “For any sort of solid statement you want to make about the platform or the audience, there are enough opposite proofs to show that it is extremely scattered and chaotic.” In a nutshell, the audience is too diverse for publishers to pigeonhole demographics and then expect decent returns.

There is also the issue that publishers are pumping out sequels to games that managed to satisfy consumers the first time around. “Sure, Game Party spawned Game Party 2 and Game Party 3, but is there any question why the sequels didn’t do as well? Who needs more mini games?” muses Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter. “The nature of the games that succeed on the Wii don’t lend themselves to sequelization and this business is all about creating franchises. Like Madden. Like Halo.”

So what can companies do going forward? Perhaps it is finally time to start employing the golden “less is more” strategy. Kramer points out that Capcom will be releasing fewer Wii games in 2010 but that they will be stronger and more high-profile, like Monster Hunter Tri.

What we shouldn’t expect is any massive turnaround in third-party success stories. If publishers still can’t read the Wii after three years, perhaps it’s time to cut their losses and plan for the future. If third parties want to hit it big on the Wii’s successor or, more immediately, with Sony and Microsoft’s motion controllers, they will need to reevaluate the type of content consumers are willing to embrace.

  1. Tom Cruise reference for the win.

    I hope more developers get with the program and follow suit with Nintendo. They’re able to develop (and publish) quality non-shovelware titles on a consistent basis, and they sell extremely well. If there’s really another Zelda coming this year along with Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M, I can’t wait.

  2. Nothing’s gonna happen on the Wii, I guarantee you. Maybe for the Wii 2 if they get wise and plan early.

  3. At this point, for me the Wii is basically the Super Mario Galaxy 2 console. That’s the only thing I’m anticipating on the console.

  4. I forgot I had a Wii to be honest. Last time I played it was for Mario Kart.

  5. avatar Jazz

    You have great points :D
    I expect a boom in PC gaming. There’s a large demographic but it’s not chaotic like the wii, and you also can utilize a mouse. It’s easier to develop with than consoles (Important) as well as reach your audience with the internet with direct links and such. It’s all in one place. We love it.

    As computers develop more I think they can outmuscle and eliminate the console market, which is not nescessarily a bad thing. Develop on the computer, market through the computer, and sell through the computer. Perfect.


  6. Nintendo did corner the casual gamer niche, but apparently they failed to understand that even casual gamers don’t want to replay the same Bejeweled rehash that has you connecting vegetables instead of jewels. There’s only so much fun one can have with these types of games.

    That being said, the Wii does have some quality but under appreciated games, most notably Wario Land Shake It!, Little King’s Story, and De Blob. They’re new, they do something different, and they’re something gamers enjoy playing.

    One can only handle so many titles like Rabbids and WarioWare before you get absolutely sick of them. I’ve been sick of the Rabbids since the first game, no matter how reviews go for subsequent games. They’re gimmicky, and they appeal to the youngster demographic, which is only a fraction of the Wii holding.

  7. When I go to Target and look at their Wii section, I have never heard of 80% of the games. It’s just so sad! :-(

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