It has come to my attention that many forum users in this crazy post-E3 2008 world have taken on a rather negative view of the future of Nintendo game publishing on the Wii. Not here on the Negative World mind you (ironic?) but elsewhere on this vast thing called the Internet. Apparently it can simply be assumed as word of law that Nintendo has completely and utterly abandoned the... shudders... "core" gamers to focus solely on the new market, and we should never expect another AAA core game from Nintendo again. But not content with this overly bleak future outlook, some are trying to destroy the past as well. It’s not just this E3 that Nintendo turned on us, it has been this way from the very start of the Wii! A small handful of decent Nintendo published titles interspersed with a large amount of casual garbage, while the other two console manufacturers are putting out AAA title after AAA title.
Seemed a bit dubious to me, considering the amount of big titles Nintendo has crammed into the early life of the Wii. To be honest though, I wasn’t even sure what all Nintendo had released, let alone the competition. So I decided to look into it in a bit more detail, and while I was at it, I figured why not share my findings with the world out there? But first, let me post a disclaimer. Some things are difficult to ascertain (for instance, figuring out Sony’s complicated first and second party structures) and there may be a few calculation errors as well. I also didn’t put downloadable titles on the list, except for Sony’s Siren which is essentially a full title (and I think you can get it at retail?) And yes, I used the somewhat flawed though still the best we have Gamerankings to determine overall review scores for the games. I’m not guaranteeing this is 100% accurate, but I tried my best to get as unbiased of a breakdown as possible for the three major console manufacturers and the titles they have published on their respective machines. And the results might just be a bit eye-opening, for those willing to take a gander…
Super Mario Galaxy 97.405% (internal) The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess 94.077% (internal) Super Smash Bros. Brawl 92.922% (internal) Metroid Prime 3: Corruption 89.713% (internal) Super Paper Mario 84.977% (internal) Mario Kart Wii 82.115% (internal) WarioWare: Smooth Moves 82.023% (internal) Wii Fit 80.480% (internal) Mario Strikers Charged 79.116% (internal) Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn 78.945% (internal) Wii Sports 76.650% (internal) Excite Truck 75.464% (external) Battalion Wars 2 75.421% (external) Endless Ocean 73.667% (external) Link's Crossbow Training 69.554% (internal) Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree 69.139% (internal) Mario Party 8 62.884% (external) Wii Play 61.010% (internal) Pokemon Battle Revolution 53.016% (internal) Donkey Kong Barrel Blast 44.563% (external)
Months on market: 21
Total games published: 20 (3rd)
90%+ total games: 3 (1st tie) 80%+ total games: 8 (3rd) 70%+ total games: 14 (2nd tie)
Total games per month: 0.950 (2nd)
90%+ total games per month: 0.143 (1st) 80%+ total games per month: 0.381 (2nd) 70%+ total games per month: 0.667 (2nd)
Total games high score: 97.405% (1st) Total games median score: 77.798% (3rd) Total games mean score: 76.157% (3rd) Total games low score: 44.563% (3rd)
90%+ internal games per month: 0.143 (1st) 80%+ internal games per month: 0.381 (1st) 70%+ internal games per month: 0.524 (1st)
Internal games high score: 97.405% (1st) Internal games median score: 81.252% (2nd) Internal games mean score: 79.409% (2nd) Internal games low score: 53.016% (3rd)
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune 89.884% (internal) Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction 88.598% (external) Resistance: Fall of Man 86.782% (external) MLB 08: The Show 86.242% (internal) Warhawk 84.560% (external) SingStar 83.170% (internal) MotorStorm 82.840% (internal) Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds 81.792% (external) Heavenly Sword 80.727% (external) Gran Turismo 5 Prologue 80.040% (internal) SIREN: Blood Curse 78.875% (internal) BUZZ! Quiz TV 78.095% (external) MLB 07: The Show 78.067% (internal) Formula One Championship Edition 75.978% (internal) Folklore 75.825% (external) The Eye of Judgment 75.533% (internal) NBA 08 66.081% (internal) NBA 07 65.346% (internal) Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom 58.706% (internal) Genji: Days of the Blade 57.542% (external) Lair 56.056% (external)
Months on market: 21
Total games published: 21 (2nd)
90%+ total games: 0 (3rd) 80%+ total games: 10 (2nd) 70%+ total games: 16 (1st)
Total games per month: 1.000 (1st)
90%+ total games per month: 0.000 (3rd) 80%+ total games per month: 0.476 (1st) 70%+ total games per month: 0.762 (1st)
Total games high score: 89.884% (3rd) Total games median score: 78.875% (2nd) Total games mean score: 76.702% (1st) Total games low score: 56.056% (1st)
90%+ internal games per month: 0.000 (3rd) 80%+ internal games per month: 0.238 (2nd) 70%+ internal games per month: 0.429 (2nd)
Internal games high score: 89.884% (3rd) Internal games median score: 78.471% (3rd) Internal games mean score: 76.730% (3rd) Internal games low score: 58.706% (2nd)
Gears of War 93.750% (external) Halo 3 93.503% (internal) Mass Effect 91.002% (external) Forza Motorsport 2 89.879% (internal) Project Gotham Racing 3 88.713% (external) Project Gotham Racing 4 86.373% (external) Viva Pinata 85.417% (internal) Crackdown 83.561% (external) Ninja Gaiden II 82.024% (external) Perfect Dark Zero 81.455% (internal) Kameo: Elements of Power 80.986% (internal) Lost Odyssey 79.044% (external) Blue Dragon 77.402% (external) Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action 73.451% (external) Shadowrun 69.599% (internal) Too Human 69.236% (external) Project Sylpheed 65.585% (external) Ninety-Nine Nights 63.325% (external) Viva Pinata: Party Animals 57.561% (external) Tenchu Z 56.943% (external) Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom 56.195% (external) Fuzion Frenzy 2 51.565% (external)
Months on market: 33
Total games published: 22 (1st)
90%+ total games: 3 (1st tie) 80%+ total games: 11 (1st) 70%+ total games: 14 (2nd tie)
Total games per month: 0.667 (3rd)
90%+ total games per month: 0.091 (2nd) 80%+ total games per month: 0.333 (3rd) 70%+ total games per month: 0.424 (3rd)
Total games high score: 93.750% (2nd) Total games median score: 80.015% (1st) Total games mean score: 76.207% (2nd) Total games low score: 51.565% (2nd)
90%+ internal games per month: 0.030 (2nd) 80%+ internal games per month: 0.152 (3rd) 70%+ internal games per month: 0.152 (3rd)
Internal games high score: 93.503% (2nd) Internal games median score: 83.436% (1st) Internal games mean score: 83.473 (1st) Internal games low score : 69.599% (1st)
And now we come to the conclusions. I’m not going to spell everything out, as the numbers pretty much speak for themselves. And they are only meant to give some general context, there are of course a million other factors that go into a strong line-up that I didn’t touch upon here, such as variety, features, etc.
The thing that surprised me most is, despite a year lead, Microsoft’s publishing output isn’t actually that far ahead of Sony’s and Nintendo’s. In fact, for the most part it can be directly compared to theirs as if they have all been on the market for a similar timeframe. Why exactly this is I’m not certain, but I think one factor is the console manufacturer’s various approaches to publishing. Microsoft seems to focus on scoring big 2nd and 3rd party exclusives, while maintaining a relatively low 1st party output. This gets them some killer exclusives, but at the same time they don’t publish games at quite the same rate as the competition. Nintendo, on the other hand, focuses almost solely on 1st party output, with a small handful of 2nd and 3rd party titles. And Sony finds themselves nicely in the middle, with their internal studios getting a decent amount of games out while their stronger 2nd parties like Insomniac pick up the slack.
What was the original assertion? That Nintendo has abandoned core gamers on the Wii from the start, and that the console has suffered from lack of core games while games like Wii Play and Wii Fit take center focus? Yet looking at the actual publishing output, it sure seems to me that Nintendo is right up there with the competition on nearly every level. And when it comes to true internal publishing, there is almost no denying it; Nintendo has outdone the competition by a fair margin.
However, Nintendo still has a ways to go. The Wii is a neat little console, but the lack of power and other factors mean 3rd parties often overlook it; which in turn means Nintendo has to work harder to fill in the gaps in their overall line-up. Looking at what the other two console manufacturers are doing, I think Nintendo could really benefit from expanding to publish more 2nd and 3rd party games. Fatal Frame 4 was a nice start, but a far cry from Microsoft’s Gears of War and Mass Effect publishing deals. And Insomniac still remains one of the most killer 2nd parties in existence, maintaining high quality in their games with a very steady output; they are already on their 3rd game for the PS3 this holiday season and the first two were very well received.
I’m not sure what the future holds for Nintendo. There are worries that they are getting a bit drunk on the money pouring in from the new style gamers and don’t really even see the need for the core anymore. Though I really doubt this, you never quite know. Will Disaster ever release, or did they cancel it to make Monolith Soft work on casual titles? Will Pikmin 3 abandon it’s depth for simple point and click gaming? Will Retro Studios be dismantled as an overpaid studio who doesn’t fit with Nintendo’s new goals? Who knows? The future has yet to be written, but no matter what your views on Nintendo, it is difficult to deny their excellent past. Not the far off tinted by nostalgia past either, but the immediate past. I challenge you to actually look at the output above and tell me otherwise.