Yes we all know that Wii is selling by leaps and bounds despite a lack of critically acclaimed games. We certainly know Nintendo’s moving hardware, but we also know they’re moving much less software than Microsoft, slightly less even than Sony, and I have to wonder — how many of you are still playing your Wii regularly, or for more than the occasional Zelda or Metroid, more than a couple times a week with friends and/or family?
According to analyst Nick Williams (GamerMetrics) in a Gamasutra console progress report, the average Wii owner in the U.S. has only purchased 2.8 titles versus 5.5 for the Xbox 360 and 3.0 for the Playstation 3. Translation? People are either playing more of less on the Wii, or playing less in general, i.e. the sort of consumer who’ll drop $250 on a treadmill but only use it once or twice a week, even once or twice a month. During a fitness craze, treadmill sales might go up and even stay up for a year plus, but the question is really, how much are people getting on the thing and using it post-purchase? For me it’s a differrent story I own about 8 games and play everday I can.
Analyst David Cole’s (DFC) writes Nintendo’s mediocre software lineup off as a first year issue, which I’d buy if the Wii wasn’t essentially just a GameCube with a motion sensor interface. Granted designing justifiably motion-controlled games is arguably as steep a curve as transitioning a game environment from 2D to 3D, but what no one talks about here — and it’s a key issue — is the fact that publishers simply weren’t banking on the Wii to succeed or tap such a broad new player market. How many announcements in the last few months have we seen from major publishers suddenly rededicating themselves to the Wii? Publishers who either had nothing or only a handful of uninspiring cross-platform ports lined up until recently? Explanation: You don’t argue with a console that’s surpassed the Xbox 360’s worldwide install numbers in less than half the market time.
Cole has this much right: Nintendo’s in a fabulous position to close the software sales gap if it can remedy its lineup issues. Whether that can ultimately keep “the little engine that could” in the game beyond 2008 when Sony and Microsoft are pushing second and third stage stuff…I think we’re all enjoying the David and Goliath parallels here, but you can only bank on that analogy for so long.
In any event, my question stands: Who’s playing, and how much?