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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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I honestly think it is. The industry has been sending a message loud and clear on the Wii, and that message is: "We are not gonna try. And in the cases when we do make a half-assed effort, we're gonna show that we don't get it".

We haven't seen a single 3rd party effort with the resources behind it to make it comparable to 3rd party games on other consoles, and that is a sad, sad thing.

I can only see one such title on the horizon, and it's Epic Mickey, which not only has a chance of hitting the Wii's demographic, but also has one of the brightest minds in gaming behind it.

And I was really, really surprised to hear David Ellis in his podcast 2 weeks ago say that all hype for the game was gone as soon as it was revealed to be a Wii exclusive. He was basing this on his own criteria (apparently he needs graphics in his Mickey games, apparently eye candy is the reason why he watches Pixar's family films), and traffic on 1up.

I think his reasons are silly, but I don't doubt a bunch of gamers agree with them. They are retards.

As for the web site traffic thing, I really, really hope it's just the result of Epic Mickey stories only being tagged as "Wii" news, instead of having Wii, PS3 and 360 tags. But who knows, maybe the hype really IS as low as he says it is, amongst "the hardcore".


I think my biggest worry isn't if it's too late for the Wii at this point, but too late for its successor...
Posted: 01/05/10, 18:48:13  - Edited by 
 on: 01/05/10, 18:49:27
Since I don't care like I used to, I honestly don't know. I used to sit and ponder this kind of thing with great interest, but now not so much. Is it too late for the Wii? Yes. It really is. Nothing is going to change the rest of this generation. The Wii is in first, the 360 is in second, the PS3 is last. Done. The DS will keep trouncing the PSP in hardware and software. The Wii will keep getting the games like Boy and His Blob and never get the games like Assassin's Creed 2. That's how it is now, and that's how it will be until the next generation.

But next generation, I really don't know. I can't see this really changing then either, unless a LOT of money is thrown out there by Nintendo for exclusive games in the vein of your Bioshocks and GTAs. The thing is, they have zero reason to do that at this point. They're rolling in money, and that isn't going to get a big return on investment. So I think next gen might go the same way.

Then again, NO ONE could have predicted where we are now a year before the 360 released. No one. So who really knows?
Posted: 01/05/10, 19:08:28
IMO, It's not the casual crowd that's hurting sales, it's the ones who refuse to take anything other than Nintendo games seriously. And it even divides further when it's just the big ones, Mario, Zelda and Metroid. Even that goes further with just an interest with one of those three. I really don't understand why these games have such trouble getting sales. Why don't gamers put aside their bias or preconceived notions or whatever they think aside and at least try these games? They're different, they're challenging, pleasing on the eyes and most important of all, FUN! People don't think there's a bias but it's clearly there. Mention Wii and it sucks... unless it's Nintendo, because Mario, Zelda and Metroid are absolutely the only things worth checking out apparently.

We'll see how the first part of 2010 goes. For me, that's the real show. We actually have big time games coming and they should be successful with sales. The buzz should be good and these game should sell. If not, if Red Steel 2 or NMH 2 or MH3 cant' do well than I'd call it done for most 3rd parties. Gamers are just to stupid with Wii.

At least DQ X is down the line still.
Posted: 01/05/10, 19:16:17
Maybe Epic Mickey is targeted such that, like Wii Sports, it doesn't NEED 'hardcore' gamers.

I don't really think it's comparable to, say, Modern Warfare, though, in terms of 'a 3rd party effort with resources behind it'. It's an earnestly developed name by an upstart publisher that just happened to snag one of the development greats. In that sense, I think it's closer to one of the boutique games like A Boy and His Blob and Geometry Wars Galaxies and No More Heroes that the Wii HAS been getting. The difference is that this upstart has some financial backing. And Warren Spector, of course.

I would say that the Wii has never gotten a key, gamer-focused 3rd party game with resources from the Western studios, but if you include Eastern ones, then Monster Hunter 3 is an example. And that game did very respectably (before FFXIII, I think it was the highest-selling home console third-party game in Japan). Not as good as the PSP versions, but the franchise has kind of a handheld focus, at this point, and MH on PSP is an anomaly and a phenomenon. Also, if DQX stays a Wii-exclusive, and doesn't somehow get shifted to the DS, it will make an impact. The strange thing to me is that more pubs haven't tried to build around that buzz and create an RPG community on the Wii in anticipation of it. There have been some, I guess. Tales is a pretty strong franchise (that did NOT do that well on the Wii, but I'm not sure if the Wii games are the best examples of the series).

But, like you said, that sort of "Hey, the Wii is selling great! Let's all make great Wii games and create a great environment for gamers!" epiphany does not look like it's coming. I think next gen has a definite chance. The success of the system will be assumed, and launches can have a great impact on the future lineup (along with that assumption of success). If the Wii 2 launches with fantastic games, there's a good chance gamers will support the system, and it will get more fantastic games.

If third-parties get their heads out of their collective ass, that is.

Yeah, those 'Give me the next Mario, Zelda, and (maybe) Metroid' people are a big problem. I can see why uninformed consumers would only trust the Nintendo name, especially on the Wii, but gamers have no excuse for passing up quality titles, really. Except that the bulk of the gaming media pretty much ignores them, as well, preferring to compare and contrast the shooting mechanics of 100 FPSeseses.

Even if the the Wii DID keep getting only games like A Boy And His Blob and Let's Tap, I wouldn't mind, personally. But is that a sure thing? Is the Wii actually a fertile environment for those quirky, niche games, in terms of sales? And why the hell wasn't Let's Tap a monster success in Japan?!
Posted: 01/05/10, 19:19:10  - Edited by 
 on: 01/05/10, 19:23:58
It really is laughable that hardass/'core' gamers are lamenting that Mickey Mouse went to the Wii. Really, guys? You aren't even going to let the Wii have Mickey Mouse?

Simbabbad said:
Now the Wii barely get any crap at all there and most of the moderators own one. The recent price drop and library finally got some hostile self called "hardcore" gamers to pick one. And that's good news.

But are they going to keep buying games and exploring the library, or just pick up their preconceived 'only games worth playing on the system' used from GameStop or eBay and call it a day? Check out this thread of discerning, informed gamers for some yuks.
Posted: 01/05/10, 19:25:23  - Edited by 
 on: 01/05/10, 19:31:53
Hell, David Ellis even wondered on the podcast if it was too late for Spector to switch the project to the 360.

He's not a bad kid, but sometimes he says things that are just plain dumb.
Posted: 01/05/10, 19:32:24
That's another thing, 3rd parties need to establish their domain as soon as possible. That's the most important time to get a "hardcore" game up and running to be a success. It's easier to grab the audience and from that you can build. The wait and see approach failed big.
Posted: 01/05/10, 19:39:00
The vast majority of major AAA 3rd party games on the PS3 & 360 that I'm interested in are available on PC and are usually better on PC. All MS has done for the most part with both Xbox consoles is console-ize PC gaming. And now Sony has followed suit. Nintendo has not gone that route thankfully, although I wouldn't mind a Valve FPS on the Wii at all.

I like the type of 3rd party stuff the Wii has been getting. I'd like more of it, but stuff like Trauma Center, Muramasa, A Boy And His Blob, Wario Land, SSX Blur, de Blob, No More Heroes, Silent Hill, Crystal Bearers is all right up my alley. Not to mention the stuff coming in this year: Red Steel 2, Monster Hunter 3, Sin & Punishment 2, Tales Of Graces, etc. Yet I'm supposed to feel I'm missing out because the Wii isn't getting all the PC games that the HD twins are getting. LOL...sorry, I'm not missing out on anything.
Posted: 01/05/10, 20:15:31
Personally I think it's too late to have a meaningful impact. 3rd parties have made their choice and Wii only gamers pay the price. I plan on eventually getting a 360 or PS3, but don't have one yet. I had hoped to only need one console this gen, but that doesn't appear likely.

It's been a rather irritating generation. Publishers keep saying "Buy this game and we'll make more you like" but no one knows the game exists because they won't market it. I'm tired of buying "test games" hoping that Capcom, EA, etc... will put a real AAA effort on the system.

Most of the time when I have money for games, I ask myself what 3rd party games I should get, even though there are 1st party games I want more. All because I tell myself that if I buy these games, we'll get more. And we never do.

As far as next gen goes, I don't think it will be any different. I hate throwing the "bias card" out there, but it sure seems like most major 3rd parties don't want to compete against Nintendo's 1st party games. They're just leaving a ton of money on the table if you ask me.
Posted: 01/05/10, 20:17:51
I think first we need to distinguish what type of 3rd party games. Ubi has done amazing sales with its Rayman stuff. EA's exercise games are doing spectacular. Carnival Games is probably the biggest profit maker and then some for erm... whoever did that. But that's probably not quite what everyone wants to see. Even though I hate the term, what I think we hope for is more "core" games selling.

I don't honestly think 3rd parties could do as well on the Wii as the 360 for "core" games, just point to point. Not because it isn't possible to sell core games on the Wii, per se, just because a 3rd party figuring out the Wii core market is very difficult, whereas a 3rd party figuring out the 360 market is incredibly obvious. As a Nintendo fan I want to believe that the Wii has the same potential as the others, and looking at the very respectable sales of a barely advertised, b-level-ish game like de Blob you have to think that something similar but a huge production with tons of advertising would stand a real chance of being a mega hit. If I were in charge of a publisher approaching the Wii though, I'm not sure I'd really get the market either.

Though I might do better than some of these clueless publishers. One thing is for certain, I wouldn't throw games like MadWorld and Dead Space Extraction at it expecting big sales. I almost went nuts in that IGN thread about the Sega interview where the Sega rep said Dead Space Extraction was a litmus test for them. He seemed almost shocked that a "major" franchise from a "major" publisher like EA couldn't make sales on the Wii. It's like he completely ignored the fact that most of the Wii market is sick of light gun shooters. I even question whether the Wii market ever loved light gun shooters... yeah Resident Evil, Zelda, and House of the Dead 2/3 all sold pretty well. But Zelda is going to sell regardless, Resident Evil was the first one so it was a bit novel (and a very popular franchise as well), and House of the Dead 2/3 was a budget priced port of two popular games. What the F made EA think they could just throw Dead Space into this mix? Even the PS3/360 game didn't exactly light up the sales charts, it's NOT a big enough franchise to dump a toned down game onto a different console and expect the name to carry it.

It's not that I think most games would sell terrible on the Wii, but the 360 is definitely a tough one to beat for 3rd party sales. The PS3, maybe, but that usually rides the 360 wave fairly well. Resident Evil 5 on the Wii would have been big, but would it have sold more than the 360 game? I doubt it. More than the PS3 game? Eh. And there is no way I think anything like Modern Warfare could touch the PS3/360 sales, even if the Wii did get a AAA Modern Warfare game (which it never will).

Also, I think to some extent publishers did miss the boat. Had they all truly jumped on early on, and had the Wii seen some major 3rd party stuff early on, I think it would have a much bigger following with all kinds of gamers. But 3rd parties didn't, and the Wii image went from "WII60 HELL YEAH, KILL SONY!" to "I haven't touched my Wii since Mario Galaxy". We can't really deny that, despite continuing to put up big sales numbers, the Wii has turned off a lot of the type of gamers that made the PS2, Xbox, and even Gamecube sales. At this point, were a publisher to really try to crack into that market on the Wii, they would be fighting an uphill battle. Red Steel sold a million copies at launch, but sometimes I wonder if that market has actually managed to shrink while the overall Wii market has grown. It seems only us "Nintendo fans" are the launch owners who still buy 3rd party games, others have relegated the Wii to Mario/Metroid/Zelda only.

Of course, I think SOME genres can do better on the Wii. JRPGs, for instance. Tales sold better on the Wii than the 360 (though it sold best on the PS3, which kind of saddens me). Monster Hunter 3 and Dragon Quest X on the Wii were probably smart moves. Kingdom Hearts 3 on the Wii would be HUGE, though I still suspect it will end up PS3/360. But the JRPG has been slowing down for awhile now. Outside of a couple of established franchises, I think publishers almost need to stick to handheld to see decent sales here.

I'm kind of going all over the place here. Anyway, my major view is, even if 3rd parties jumped in headfirst and actually supported the Wii with logical choices, I doubt they would see 360 level sales. But they WOULD see much, much better sales. And the first place to start would be to stop using stuff like Dead Space Extraction as your market gauge, and GET A CLUE.
Posted: 01/05/10, 20:18:03  - Edited by 
 on: 01/05/10, 20:39:37
^yeah, I think Red Steel 2 will be more of a market gauge, provided they give it the marketing push it deserves. I am very interested to see how it performs.

I think 3rd parties in general are pretty much done with the Wii. It's a clear sign, when Motion+ has been out for half a year and the only 3rd party willing to utilize the improved tech (in a non-sports game) is Ubisoft with the aforementioned Red Steel 2. I understand that it takes a while to develop games for Motion+ but the dev kits must have been out there a while before, or at least in the hands of EA. What have they done since TW10 and GST? More EA Active and My Sims games. Even if Red Steel 2 does well, it's too late in the game for it to spike any kind of sustained development for Wii. They will likely wait for the Super Wii to right their wrongs (or screw up all over again).
Personally, I am not going to lose sleep over this. Nintendo is bringing the awesome in terms of software, and these are the games I've always liked best on Nintendo consoles.
Posted: 01/05/10, 20:34:37
Zero said:
I think first we need to distinguish what type of 3rd party games. Ubi has done amazing sales with its Rayman stuff. EA's exercise games are doing spectacular. Carnival Games is probably the biggest profit maker and then some for erm... whoever did that. But that's probably not quite what everyone wants to see. Even though I hate the term, what I think we hope for is more "core" games selling.

I was thinking 'sincerely developed games that were made with the full cream-of-the-crop development strength and financial backing of a significant 3rd-Party publisher'.
Posted: 01/05/10, 20:45:32
I think it's way too late for Red Steel 2 though. Ubi should have followed it up a lot quicker, put a quality team on it, announced a sequel almost instantly and got a high quality product out the door within 1-2 years of Wii launch. Look what they did with Assassin's Creed 2, they delivered a hyped but ultimately disappointing product in the first, and instead of letting that fester, they got a much superior sequel out soon after and it seems to have worked. But does anyone really care about the Red Steel name right now? If anything, I think it almost works against it. And to be honest, I don't think they are going to create a killer game here. Too much about the development worries me, including the whole switching dev teams mid-development. You can look at it like oh, the first wasn't doing a good job and they want a good game. But I look at it like oh, the first was doing an atrocious job because they failed to commit the correct resources to the game, so they are trying to salvage it, but will probably still fail to commit those resources and make the new team work off the mistakes the old made.

We'll see.

I don't think all 3rd parties are done with the Wii. I actually think EA is pretty committed to the Wii, but to be honest, what can we expect from them? Exercise games and sports games, for the most part. They recently announced that they cancelled a bunch of titles and basically said they were only going to focus on money makers, so we can't expect much more than the basics from them.

Actually the 3rd party support might be better than ever, but it's still terrible. I think 3rd parties were kind of testing the waters, sticking their toes in but not much else, deciding when to jump. But now they have decided ok, the pool is closing soon anyway, might as well just keep my toes in since they are in already, but I'm NOT jumping in. I don't want to mess up my hair.
Posted: 01/05/10, 20:46:48
anandxxx said:
I was thinking 'sincerely developed games that were made with the full cream-of-the-crop development strength and financial backing of a significant 3rd-Party publisher'.

So what... Monster Hunter 3 and Dragon Quest X then? Maybe the new Tales game. Pretty much just a bunch of JRPGs. I don't think we have seen a single significant Western developed Wii release yet.

Not counting the sports and music games that go to every platform on the planet...
Posted: 01/05/10, 20:47:32  - Edited by 
 on: 01/05/10, 20:48:31
anandxxx said:

Even if the the Wii DID keep getting only games like A Boy And His Blob and Let's Tap, I wouldn't mind, personally. But is that a sure thing? Is the Wii actually a fertile environment for those quirky, niche games, in terms of sales? And why the hell wasn't Let's Tap a monster success in Japan?!

"Let's Tap a Monster" sounds like it would be EXTREMELY successful in Japan. I don't know.


Anyway, it's really the Wii or bust for those type of games. Where else are they going to see better sales? Certainly not the 360/PS3. Those types of games would never see the light of day there, as opposed to the Wii where they may be withered but are still growing. So let's hope the Wii keeps getting them, because the alternative is NO ONE does.

Or the sweet, sweet DS, which is also fine with me. That said, A Boy and His Blob is as charming as it is partly because that art style looks fan-flippin-tastic on a TV screen instead of a handheld.
Posted: 01/05/10, 20:49:52
-JKR- said:
Anyway, it's really the Wii or bust for those type of games. Where else are they going to see better sales?

Handhelds, or downloadables. I too am a bit worried that we are going to see less and less of these type of titles as full disk Wii releases.

The thing is though, really... much like Dead Space, what on earth made a publisher think that a 2D A Boy and His Blob game could put up numbers right now? Don't get me wrong, I'm a bit saddened that the game apparently only sold like 10k copies or something, it should have sold more than that, but expecting much of anything over 100k would be a total pipe dream.

I think the Wii is in this unfortunate and totally illogical situation where, since publishers don't really understand the market, they start to assume that anything that won't sell on the PS3/360 is the "Wii market", and when it doesn't sell on the Wii, they don't even stop to question whether they actually made a good choice in bringing that specific game to the Wii, they just decide 3rd party games don't sell on the Wii. But frankly, a lot of what they throw at it won't sell anywhere. You can't expect a 20 year old franchise that wasn't even that huge back then to come back out of nowhere and put up numbers. A Boy and His Blob is not Mario, it is not Mega Man, and it isn't even Punch-Out!! It's a quirky little title from years back that a limited amount of old school gamers remember somewhat fondly and no one else gives an F about.

Honestly, look at a lot of the stuff publishers are trying to sell on the Wii. It's not stuff that has seen a real console market in a long, long time, if ever. 2D games, uber niche/violent games, light gun shooters, etc. Who exactly are they trying to sell this stuff to? Don't get me wrong, I love seeing it, but I have no idea who they even think their intended market is.
Posted: 01/05/10, 20:56:43  - Edited by 
 on: 01/05/10, 20:59:42
Zero said:
I have no idea who they even think their intended market is.

Sadly, I don't think they do either.
Posted: 01/05/10, 21:14:22
I have more to say, but de Blob is certainly an interesting data point. Pretty bizarre, really. Why would de Blob succeed, but not A Boy and His Blob? They both have the 'blob' thing going for them. Are younger gamers turned off by 2D? The visual style of Boy and His Blob doesn't really come across in screenshots, I guess.

It's also strange that de Blob is still often cited as a 'sales disappointment' on podcasts, and such.

I'm curious about Muramasa, too. Apparently, it met expectations (early on, which is rare for Wii games), but what WERE those expectations? How much did a lush, hand-drawn 2D game like that have to sell to be profitable?

I also wonder how Drawn to Life Wii did. It's actually decent, but there was ZERO buzz or awareness about it within the gaming community.
Posted: 01/05/10, 21:24:46
In an interview with 1up, WayForward said Majesco, the publisher, hoped for a slow burn in sales like they had with Cooking Mama. I really hope they get their wish, but 9k for the first month is pathetic, and even if that number doesn't drop, it still takes 11 months to reach 100k.

Go ahead and try to convince retailers to carry your poorly-selling game for that long.

That said, NintendoWorldReport insists WayForward is already working on a sequel for it. I'm not sure where they got that idea, but they usually don't spout crap for no reason.

I say it's all thanks to ad69's endorsement of the game.
Posted: 01/05/10, 21:26:34  - Edited by 
 on: 01/05/10, 21:30:26
Also, de Blob was... gasp... advertised to a pretty respectable degree. I saw many commercials, I saw ads on IGN and in game mags. THQ approached it the way that, you know, publishers approach most every game they put on the PS3/360, and almost NO ONE does on the Wii. They stood behind their game, and they reaped the rewards.
Posted: 01/05/10, 21:39:32
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