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Third-parties on Wii - is there any hope, at this point? [roundtable]
 
I know, I know. Most people who talk about third-parties on Wii are stupid and biased, or, at the very least, ignorant. Their 'analysis' is often full of holes and just pure misinformation. Dead Space: Extraction should've been a blockbuster hit? No More Heroes was a bomb for Suda? Third-party games don't sell on Wii? AAA third-party games don't make their money back (have there been any)? And so on and so on...

But let's use the data we DO have, from every region. Monster Hunter 3, Tales games, RE4, quirky stuff like Boy and His Blob and Let's Tap. Do you think the Wii will ever become the lead third-party platform for quality games? Could it happen next gen?

Even more modestly, CAN a good, deserving game sell to the Wii audience? How many of us informed, longtime gamers are IN that audience? Could a game like Silent Hill ever be a sales sensation? Do you honestly believe that third-parties could sell commensurately with their 360 stuff if they put in the effort?

And which genres DO (or COULD) sell best on the Wii? What do you think are the obvious hits that just aren't being made (besides Point Blank Wii)?

How do all of these factors differ for that Japanese audience? We know Emperor Yamauchi rules the country, but is the Wii still healthier than the PS3 for third-parties? How about the European one? Are they actually better at supporting a wide variety of games, or is it a 'casual' continent?

Most importantly, the Wii, unlike the other consoles, is unquestionably globally successful. Does that translate to global sales? Is the piecemeal, segmented nature of analysis actually giving the Wii short shrift? Does that analysis feed back into publisher decisions, even though they should HAVE hard sales data to go by?

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Posted: 01/05/10, 18:11:53  - Edited by 
 on: 02/24/11, 23:03:38
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porphyrous said:
I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's not the games that are the problem. You look at all the games on MetaCritic with green MetaScores, and they total 126. Sure, we'd always like to see more, but that's not bad.

If we're going to discuss sales, we have to discuss the process of getting the game from the publisher to the gamer's hands. It's not just a matter of making it and this automagically happens. There is a complex web of communication and interactions that must occur before the sale occurs.

On the XBox 360 and PS3, the markets for these games are sufficiently mature that there are process in place to cater to them. They are, as a rule, very Internet-connected, and most gaming web sites cater to them. There's a list of known hang-out places where the word gets out, and the gamers communicate with each other. Any great game should sell a million copies, right?

On the Wii, the market is very different. Aside from the leftovers from the GameCube market -- which is what the gaming web sites seem to be left with on their Wii portals -- this is an untested market, with three primarily unknown entities making up most of its constituency: children and their parents; older, lapsed gamers such as myself, and women. Children are generally too young to have mastered the Web yet. They may use it but don't live on it. Older, lapsed gamers like myself have their attention divided much more greatly. Women....well, how many do you see here? Generally speaking, the Wii market is more demographically disperse, not as well connected on the Internet, don't frequent gaming web sites, and aren't as tightly knit for word of mouth. How do you sell a million copies to this marketing melange?

Even if there are games that are mis-aimed at this market, such as Dead Space Extraction or MadWorld. When you have approaching 60 million consoles in circulation worldwide, don't you think you can find enough sales to make it all worthwhile? The problem is, how do you find those gamers, inform them about the game, convince them to buy it, and chalk up a mark in your sales ledger?

The problem with 3rd parties on the Wii is that they don't know what's necessary in order to complete this cycle. There are definitely enough good games out there that there could be 100 million-sellers on Wii, if only the sales and marketing communication can reach their audience. Aside from Nintendo, that audience is not being reached.

So what is the solution? Well, if I knew that for sure, I would be forming my own game company . But I think the solution lies in the Wii console itself. And this could be another money maker for Nintendo. Reach Wii owners through their consoles.

First off, the Nintendo Channel should be a stock part of the Wii channels, not a download. Second, receiving messages on the console should be set to opt-out, so that a higher percentage of Wii owners will choose to receive the messages. Third, in order to encourage use of the Internet on the Wii, Nintendo should make it possible to register their games, sign up for Club Nintendo, and complete surveys right through the console, not make them get on a separate computer to do it. Fourth, actively use the gameplay logs on the Wii to tune what information gets sent to the console. In other words, proactively suggest games and do it right on the Channels menu. It works brilliantly for Amazon, it could work for Nintendo too. Perhaps part of the NIntendo Channel, perhaps its own channel.

Outside of the Wii console, things get more problematic, but I think the key revelation is that focused advertising won't work except under particular circumstances. If you're making a kid's game, then you should certainly advertise on Nickelodeon. The new EA Sports games should be advertised on ESPN and FSN. But what about other types of games? How do you reach the expanded audience? You're going to have to bite the bullet and advertise nationally, on CNN or Headline News or the terrestrial networks. You can't just run a few ads on Spike and G4 and expect to get much in sales.

The market is expanded, but the 3rd parties are still treating it like a focused market, like the 360 and PS3. It's not. If they can figure that out, what this new market needs for communication, then there's certainly still hope for this video game generation and the next.

David V


Outstanding post and you are right on all accounts.

What they need to do is turn the Nintendo Channel into something like Steam, where they are always, ALWAYS advertising, always giving you demos always pointing you towards something you may not know existed, giving you deals, etc. That's how you reach gamers that don't buy magazines, don't know about IGN and could give a shit about researching a game for themselves. You make it impossible for them to miss it and quite literally force the population to at least expose themselves to whats available.

Outside of that however you nailed it to a tee. Were we on IGN I'd WUL you;)
Posted: 01/07/10, 11:13:43
I knew it was too late to expect sustained 3rd party support when Tron was announced without a Wii version. Frickin' Tron! Because that's all about HD graphics, not throwing frisbees! Time of death: 2009.

In a way, I'm content with what the Wii's success -has- reaped in terms of support. The Cube wouldn't have had Monster Hunter Tri, Dragon Quest X, Red Steel 2 and Epic Mickey all coming up. Great exclusives. Big experiences we can be thankful for.

Still I do blame publishers for the failings of their games especially if they hold them up as examples of what should work. MadWorld, Dead Space: Extraction and Darkside Chronicles are getting the sales they deserve. Releasing shallow games on the Wii and pretending they are full, core friendly games that would sell like frozen bananas on the other consoles leads to failure. Failure is what you get and failure is what you deserve.

We've heard these publishers repeat over and over again how they are testing the waters of the Wii, testing its userbase to see what they'll buy. That was never true. 'Test' is just a PR friendly way of saying 'short development time', 'small budget'. And when those early tests sold a million, like Hotd 2 and 3, Umbrella Chronicles, RE4 Wii Edition... what was the conclusion of that test? Publishers thought 'Hey! We can get away with just making lightgun games forever. We can get away with big name IPs however shallow the gameplay is!' So that's what they did, and now they wail about their profits and categorize the Wii audience as uninterested.

Well tough titty. Lightgun games have always been a novelty, and if you abuse the power of your big name IPs you will watch them fail.

The other thing about lightgun games... they appear appropriate for the Wii, but they actually aren't. IR is great for moving a reticule, and pretty useless for actually aiming at things in a twitch, arcade sense. So not only do you have the usual fatigue associated with lightgun sales on any system, you have the added factor that they aren't that great to play on the Wii anyway. But publishers stuck with them because they kinda look like you're using the Wii's unique tech, and because they are cheap as flip to make.

Publishers are all about appearances when it comes to the Wii. I don't feel like we've heard one honest word from publishers about their intentions with the Wii, or about their thoughts on the actual sales of their games. Outside of people like Suda, and THQ's Blob team and the few other developers who actually put effort into making games that core gamers TRADTIONALLY like, or the casual and motion control interested crowd can appreciate as GENUINE efforts in that development space.

There's still potential for good games to sell. And the few that are made and marketted well will confound the other publishers.
Posted: 01/07/10, 14:10:43  - Edited by 
 on: 01/07/10, 16:19:54
I love RE:UC but RE:DC has left me verrrrrrrry dissapointed....

I still think there may be a SLIGHT chance left......contrary to what I've said before. Who knows, the last couple years of the Wii's life could very well be its best.
Posted: 01/07/10, 14:25:20
@carlosrox
May I ask what went wrong with RE: DC?
Posted: 01/07/10, 17:03:26
Y-Alpha said:
We've heard these publishers repeat over and over again how they are testing the waters of the Wii, testing its userbase to see what they'll buy. That was never true. 'Test' is just a PR friendly way of saying 'short development time', 'small budget'.

YES.

I comment on this in most every 3rd party sales thread. The kind of stuff they throw at the Wii is stuff they wouldn't even THINK of trying to get away with throwing at the PS3/360 and expecting sales. It's pretty much always lower budget, more shallow experiences. And when it's not shallow, it's so niche it might as well be. And the games tend to be high 7s mid 8s games, which there is nothing wrong with, but those games don't find big sales anywhere and being the big fish in the small pond still requires you to be the big fish, or people will go fish elsewhere (or you know, just stick to the whale of Nintendo).

3rd parties can't talk about the core market on the Wii because 3rd parties have yet to actually try to make "core" games the way "core" games have been made ever since what... Super Mario 64 / Final Fantasy VII? They're not even trying, so what do they expect?

It's not like 3rd parties are shocked that Kameo, Brutal Legend, Time Crisis 4 and Disgaea 3 haven't put up huge numbers. BUT OMGZ, THEY'RE CORE GAMES!

anandxxx said:
I've only played a bit of Dead Space: Extraction (with Zero), but I don't really see why the game should've done well. It's a rail shooter with very little shooting (and limited ammo). So weird. I can't really see why it reviewed so well, except that the media's priorities are so very different from mine.

To be fair that was kind of a weird stage we played, some of the other stages have a lot more shooting... and some interesting stuff like having to weld stuff while keeping enemies off of you, etc. And boss fights. But yeah, it is definitely more about the "experience" than the shooting I think. It often breaks away from shooting for story-ish parts. Which is fine for what it is, and (almost ironically) it does have that "play a movie" feel more than most games that are going for it, but anyone looking for a pure shooter would best look elsewhere.

Either way, it's yet another light gun shooter, and it doesn't have the brand power that Zelda or Resident Evil do, or even House of the Dead (for light gun shooting).
Posted: 01/07/10, 19:01:52  - Edited by 
 on: 01/07/10, 19:12:08
Someone on another board had a theory about MetaCritic scores and "core" Wii games. He admits it's far-fetched, but on the surface it's intriguing.

He was talking about DS:E and RE:DC specifically and how RE:DC was the better game, yet it's MetaCritic score is less than DS:E (82 vs 75). His theory (and again, he admits it's far-fetched) was that reviewers decided that since DS:E likely wouldn't sell very well, they would rate it higher so they could point out how critically acclaimed games don't sell on Wii, but that an inferior game will.

I doubt there's some great collusion on the part of reviewers to do this, but it kind of makes you wonder.
Posted: 01/07/10, 19:31:43
That does seem a bit far out. I would just accredit that specific disparity to the game media's obsession with presentation. I haven't played RE:DC yet, but RE:UC's presentation pales next to DS:E's. DS:E is probably one of the few Wii games that attempts PS3/360 type presentation (if not gameplay). It's actually a pretty neat presentation IF you can get past the fact that it's a light gun shooter with too many parts where you aren't doing much shooting. There are some novel ideas in the gameplay too though, the aforementioned holding off enemies while welding stuff, various puzzles, the focusing on removing limbs instead of just blasting away... but yeah, it does seem a tad overrated... or UC was underrated, however you want to look at it.

But man, Sin & Punisment 2 is going to come along and blow all of these games away, and show us how you can do an on-rails game but still give PLAYER CONTROL OVER THE CHARACTER.
Posted: 01/07/10, 19:38:13
Zero said:

But man, Sin & Punisment 2 is going to come along and blow all of these games away, and show us how you can do an on-rails game but still give PLAYER CONTROL OVER THE CHARACTER.

Star Fox did that years ago. :P
Posted: 01/07/10, 20:41:30
Good lord, I can't wait for Sin and Punishment 2.
Posted: 01/07/10, 20:45:42
I'm listening to the last 4 guys 1up podcast and man, I want to scream at that Constantine guy to wake up. He's saying he was looking at Dead Space Extraction and thinking: it's EA, with their resources and marketing push they can make this happen. And he was shocked when it sold as poorly as it did.

What marketing push?

On IGN I'd be blasted for criticizing something someone who's been into game development and publishing as long as he has, but seriously, how delusional can you get. How can you somehow see a big marketing push where there was none. EA basically admitted themselves they sent it to die.

And that's just one reason you shouldn't use that game as any sort of litmus test. I won't even touch the others, what he said here was certifiably insane.

There's something in the water over at Sega of America, I swear.
Posted: 01/07/10, 21:03:45
Yes there is, unless things are said one way in public and a very different way behind closed doors. It all smacks of PR to me. There simply can't be so much belief that lightgun games will go platinum, release after release. The Wii has surely sold more of them than any system to date, but inevitably people lose interest.

And wasn't the original Dead Space considered a pretty bad failure when it launched? I'm sure a lot more copies have sold since the price crashed, but what the Wii got was a shallow spin-off of a virtually bombed franchise. Those core players who enjoyed the game mostly couldn't care less about a dumbed down prequel, however cinematic it might be. And to the wider massmarket the IP might as well be new. It has no draw. And the situation was surely made worse through a lack of advertising.

Unfortunately the same can be said about Konami and Silent Hill, however good the game itself is.
Posted: 01/07/10, 22:06:06  - Edited by 
 on: 01/07/10, 22:12:10
Phalanx said:
Someone on another board had a theory about MetaCritic scores and "core" Wii games. He admits it's far-fetched, but on the surface it's intriguing.

He was talking about DS:E and RE:DC specifically and how RE:DC was the better game, yet it's MetaCritic score is less than DS:E (82 vs 75). His theory (and again, he admits it's far-fetched) was that reviewers decided that since DS:E likely wouldn't sell very well, they would rate it higher so they could point out how critically acclaimed games don't sell on Wii, but that an inferior game will.

I doubt there's some great collusion on the part of reviewers to do this, but it kind of makes you wonder.

Maybe that's why IGN gave MadWorld a 9 [face_silly]
Posted: 01/07/10, 23:18:51
@Pandareus
The scariest thing is that most developers seem to rely on hearsay and specious conclusions like that, rather than hard data. Don't they employ any fucking number crunchers and market research people at these companies?

...Actually, it would explain a lot if they didn't.

You know, I'm not necessarily confident that the Wii audience would always reward a good, publicized game. There are some troubling indicators, but the specific examples and comparisons that ALL of these 'industry insiders' use are so terrible and illogical. Can they really not see that?

Y-Alpha said:
Still I do blame publishers for the failings of their games especially if they hold them up as examples of what should work. MadWorld, Dead Space: Extraction and Darkside Chronicles are getting the sales they deserve. Releasing shallow games on the Wii and pretending they are full, core friendly games that would sell like frozen bananas on the other consoles leads to failure. Failure is what you get and failure is what you deserve.

We've heard these publishers repeat over and over again how they are testing the waters of the Wii, testing its userbase to see what they'll buy. That was never true. 'Test' is just a PR friendly way of saying 'short development time', 'small budget'. And when those early tests sold a million, like Hotd 2 and 3, Umbrella Chronicles, RE4 Wii Edition... what was the conclusion of that test? Publishers thought 'Hey! We can get away with just making lightgun games forever. We can get away with big name IPs however shallow the gameplay is!' So that's what they did, and now they wail about their profits and categorize the Wii audience as uninterested.

Can I get an AMEN??
Posted: 01/07/10, 23:23:40  - Edited by 
 on: 01/07/10, 23:31:47
Phalanx said:
Zero said:

But man, Sin & Punisment 2 is going to come along and blow all of these games away, and show us how you can do an on-rails game but still give PLAYER CONTROL OVER THE CHARACTER.

Star Fox did that years ago. :P

I know, but I meant on the Wii.

Unfortunately Nintendo seems to have abandoned Starfox... at least, traditional Starfox.
Posted: 01/08/10, 00:04:50
Zero said:
Unfortunately Nintendo seems to have abandoned Starfox... at least, traditional Starfox.
Can't let them do that.
Posted: 01/08/10, 00:06:15
StarWolf said:
Zero said:
Unfortunately Nintendo seems to have abandoned Starfox... at least, traditional Starfox.
Can't let them do that.
Perfect!
Posted: 01/08/10, 00:09:16
@StarWolf LOL, that was one quick and accurate persona usage there!

anandxxx said:
You know, I'm not necessarily confident that the Wii audience would always reward a good, publicized game. There are some troubling indicators, but the specific examples and comparisons that ALL of these 'industry insiders' use are so terrible and illogical. Can they really not see that?

I'm not confident either, and frankly I think the Wii probably has the worst sales potential of the 3 for "core" 3rd party games, unless you get into specific exceptions like JRPGs, platformers, Mickey Mouse, etc.

But we will probably never really know.

For instance, how well would an amazing, AAA FPS from Valve that has a massive marketing campaign (including billboards, like Left4Dead did) sell on the Wii? How well would a huge, quality "epic" WRPG that is actually advertised from Bioware sell? Unanswered questions. I doubt they would be struggling for scraps like MadWorld and Dead Space Extraction though. They might not put up 360 exclusive level sales, maybeeeeeee not even PS3 exclusive level sales, but they would certainly put up sales.

Anyway, no market rewards every great game. Ever. Remember Ico and Okami on the PS2? Jet Set Radio Future and Panzer Dragoon Orta on the Xbox? The problem is the Wii has so very, very, VERY few points of data that all of these games that would never be looked at as "core" sales potential gauges on any console in recent history become the "core" sales potential gauges on the Wii. Dead Space Extraction on the PS3/360 would have been sent to die, but it wouldn't matter because 10 other major games that actually fit the market and were heavily advertised would sell. On the Wii though, it's one of the few 3rd party games that got any level of media hype at all, so it becomes a sales gauge. Blah.
Posted: 01/08/10, 00:13:52  - Edited by 
 on: 01/08/10, 00:14:38
WHAAAAAAAAAAAT? How is RE:DC better than RE:UC?! LUNACY!

So many things are much much worse.

I didn't feel the new missions at ALL (South America...). Who are these supposed terrorists and why am I supposed to care? I thought those chapters were just bland and uninspired.

The dialogue is EVEN worse and campier than the first

The camera moves waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much

Hitting items and scenery is a real chore with that unbelievably shaky cam

There's no checkpoint in between chapters to see how you're doing in the stage, effectively leaving you to hang around like an idiot to the very end to see how you did,

The levels are shorter (I feel they're really really short I dunno about you),

From what I've seen (Honestly, haven't reached the Code Veronica chapters even and there's a reason for that...I'm not impressed. I don't Feel like it playing it that much while RE:UC had me replaying the same levels over and over cuz they were awesome and I just couldn't stop playing it!!) there's no side single player missions (if so, where the hell are they..I know I haven't beat it but in RE:UC you unlocked them pretty damn fast)

Headshots are HARDER to make I think, not easier as people claimed

The music's worse

I thought the weapon system, upgrade, ammo, etc worked better in the first

Maybe it's cuz I'm not replaying the levels much cuz I don't like them that much but I find the money system really annoying, every time I play a level at least, I'm only able to upgrade 1 thing on 1 of my guns. In UC I was usually able to upgrade a couple things.

Nades weren't their own weapon in UC, they were their own button combo which was much more intuitive

Some of the bosses are like WTF am I supposed to be shooting?

And some of the weapons suck so damn hard. What's with the crossbow? That thing's weaker than a goddamn pistol, takes like 50 shots to kill a single Zombie.

The only thing I can think of that's better than the original is the use of Herbs and being able to switch weapons in-game (and choose them slightly easier cuz they're binded to specific keys)...but that's a double edged sword cuz you can only hold 4 while in RE:UC you could use whatever you pick up during the level

I say this alot even when I complain about games so I just want you to know I don't hate or even really dislike this game, I'm just pretty disappointed cuz I thought the first one was a lot better. I was totally hyped and read mixed reviews. The one thing I remember though is the camera issue they mentioned. I didn't believe it. I was like "ah that's bs they're probably exaggerating" but sure enough I agree, the camera issue is terrible. Hitting things in a LIGHTGUN GAME should be the priority. It shouldn't be an issue. That is the game's MAIN failure but all my other complaints still stand and bring down my appreciation for the game.
Posted: 01/08/10, 00:29:49  - Edited by 
 on: 01/08/10, 01:51:10
@Simbabbad

Gotta love you completely ignoring every single one of the 15 or so valid complaints I had.

Am I back on IGN?

(unless you were joking about my typo that I just noticed and fixed)
Posted: 01/08/10, 01:50:44  - Edited by 
 on: 01/08/10, 01:51:56
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