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Gamasutra: Another Wii Third party debate, what to do?

Sadist

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http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4237/thirdparty_publishers_react_to_.php

Some quotes:

Take the case of third-party publisher Capcom, whose stock rose to a five-year high in September, 2007 due to increased support for the Wii, according to the company.

At the time, its CFO spoke enthusiastically about Capcom's Wii portfolio -- which had doubled from three to six games -- and was poised to publish Zack & Wiki: Quest For Barbaros' Treasure the next month.

But Chris Kramer, Capcom senior director of communications and community, said even though "it was one of the highest-rated Wii games and was beloved by the media, it sold abysmally -- about 120,000 units in 26 months -- for no apparent reason.

According to Kramer, "If you're not Nintendo, it does seem harder to make money on the Wii today compared to the PS3 and the Xbox 360. It's a very tough market to crack and is ever-shifting."

He recalls that when the Wii first launched in North America in November, 2006, simple casual or party games did so well that they soon saturated the market. "Now, I don't even know what the market is," he says. "

"Third-party publishers are having a hard time determining who the Wii audience is," Kramer adds. "You can no longer say it is solely casual gamers or that only E-rated games own the space. 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."

One thing's for sure -- the focus has changed. Stores like Target and Best Buy have reportedly told game publishers not to even bother approaching them with collections of mini games, which they will no longer pick up.

Michael Pachter is more optimistic, viewing the current situation as "a resetting of expectations about the Wii consumer" more so than a "Wii bubble deflation." Pachter, an industry analyst, is managing director of equity research for Wedbush Securities.

"The Wii console sold so many more units than anybody expected in 2007 and 2008 because it was cheap and because of its novel gameplay," he explains, "which set expectations much, much greater than perhaps were warranted. Since then, the Wii has come back down to earth and is now merely outselling the other two consoles by 30 or 40 percent, not 300 percent. I hardly see that as a bubble deflation."

It's the other half of the Wii console owners who third-party developers need to address, Pachter says, and Capcom is doing it just right by coming out with a title like Resident Evil whose brand everyone recognizes through movies and simple brand history. Unfortunately, it seems that even that approach may not be working.

"Wii publishers need to concentrate on fewer games but games of higher quality," he says. "There is just too much shovelware around -- like the $15 games in the end-cap bargain bins at Target. Companies like Majesco just spin them out non-stop and there are tons of them. They aren't helping anybody keep their lights on."

Capcom's Kramer agrees with the "fewer but better" philosophy: "In 2010, you won't see as many Wii games from Capcom, but the ones we release will be much larger, event-size games. I also expect to see the market dominated more and more by Nintendo releases with fewer games from the major third parties, like EA, Activision, and Ubisoft."

But, says Pachter, "the real question is what is Nintendo going to do about the fact that their third-party software isn't moving since theirs is a royalty model and less content isn't good for them. They need to do something to encourage the third parties to create more, not less, content. Otherwise, Nintendo is going to lose all its third-party royalties and, well, they can't afford that."

it's a good read. I kind of laughed about the Zack & Wiki comment though.
 

gerg

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Dec 6, 2008
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I love the "for no apparent reason". Really, now, Capcom? No apparent reason?

In any case, the comments are no longer surprising. "The Wii market is currently unexplored and unstudied, so it's big and scary for us."
 
Mar 10, 2005
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Capcom's Kramer agrees with the "fewer but better" philosophy: "In 2010, you won't see as many Wii games from Capcom, but the ones we release will be much larger, event-size games.
I suspect this quote will confuse people

To Capcom, a bigger, event-sized game is Darkside Chronicles. They aren't saying they'll put RE6 on the Wii, what they're more than likely saying is their output will basically be the same with the filler cut out.
 

RurouniZel

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ShockingAlberto said:
I suspect this quote will confuse people

To Capcom, a bigger, event-sized game is Darkside Chronicles. They aren't saying they'll put RE6 on the Wii, what they're more than likely saying is their output will basically be the same with the filler cut out.

Sadly I think you're right. :(

Firestorm said:
Woah! Zack and Wiki sold 120k?

They probably expected it to do more, what with no advertising and public awareness beyond "Tell a few fans and hope they spread it".
 

hokahey

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Nov 28, 2007
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Nintendo fans demand quality.

Casuals need to be told about it.

Quality + Advertising = Wii sales

Now if Capcom would like to give me a million dollars for explaining it to them they can shoot me a PM.
 

Cosmonaut X

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ShockingAlberto said:
I suspect this quote will confuse people

To Capcom, a bigger, event-sized game is Darkside Chronicles. They aren't saying they'll put RE6 on the Wii, what they're more than likely saying is their output will basically be the same with the filler cut out.

The only Capcom game I can think of for 2010 (in the West at least) that qualifies as an "event-sized" game is Monster Hunter Tri...
 

Shiggy

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Those seem to be US sales only for Zack&Wiki. In Europe it cannot be as worse since the game saw a reprint in September 09.
 

RurouniZel

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hokahey said:
Nintendo fans demand quality.

Casuals need to be told about it.

Quality + Advertising = Wii sales

Now if Capcom would like to give me a million dollars for explaining it to them they can shoot me a PM.

Competition time: Ignore this offer, I'll do it for 500K!
 

ksamedi

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The 'for no apparent reason' statement kind of bothers me. Big companies like Capcom should research this kind of stuff and find out why it didn't sell.
 

GitarooMan

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Jul 12, 2005
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ShockingAlberto said:
Wait, yeah

Z&W sold way better than I thought.
Just remember that probably half (at most) of those copies were sold at anything resembling full price.
 
Jun 16, 2004
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hokahey said:
Nintendo fans demand quality.

Casuals need to be told about it.

Quality + Advertising = Wii sales

Now if Capcom would like to give me a million dollars for explaining it to them they can shoot me a PM.

Doesn't quality = time and resources which means spending more money?

And then doesn't telling casuals about it mean more marketing which means even more money?

And then doesn't that mean a larger initial investment so the game has to sell even more copies to justify the costs of making it and putting it on the market?

And where in all that do they find the money for your consulting fee?
 

gerg

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ksamedi said:
The 'for no apparent reason' statement kind of bothers me. Big companies like Capcom should research this kind of stuff and find out why it didn't sell.

Pssh.

That takes far too much effort.

It's easier to hang your head in frustration and just try to ignore the situation.
 

Vinci

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Oct 12, 2007
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Die Squirrel Die said:
Doesn't quality = time and resources which means spending more money?

And then doesn't telling casuals about it mean more marketing which means even more money?

And then doesn't that mean a larger initial investment so the game has to sell even more copies to justify the costs of making it and putting it on the market?

And where in all that do they find the money for your consulting fee?

And this is different from the other consoles how?
 

hokahey

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Die Squirrel Die said:
Doesn't quality = time and resources which means spending more money?

And then doesn't telling casuals about it mean more marketing which means even more money?

And then doesn't that mean a larger initial investment so the game has to sell even more copies to justify the costs of making it and putting it on the market?

And where in all that do they find the money for your consulting fee?


Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

My formula will provide such phenomenal success that my fee will be a mere pittance of their profit.

Also, let me add, no one wants on rails.
 

Cosmonaut X

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ksamedi said:
The 'for no apparent reason' statement kind of bothers me. Big companies like Capcom should research this kind of stuff and find out why it didn't sell.

TBH, I think a lot of companies are so committed to the idea that a good Metacritic score and favourable gaming media impressions are guarantees of sales success (and perhaps with good reason given the apparently strong correlations there on the HD twins) that when a Wii game doesn't perform to expectations in spite of scoring well they're baffled.

You can see this in the comments from people following the underperformance of Dead Space: Extraction and MadWorld - utter puzzlement as to how their games didn't sell when they reviewed well and ticked the big ol' Metacritic box.
 

GitarooMan

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I think the Zack & Wiki comment just reeks of misunderstanding. News flash: Well-reviewed non-branded game with a weird name and cover in a niche genre doesn't sell, who woulda thought it? Advertising wouldn't have helped, it's a game without a market. The kids who may like the cover and art on the whole will pick up Ben 10 or something and outside of the few informed older people who know it's quality, most are just going to give it a sideways glance and say WTF is that and move on.
 

Aaron Strife

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Capcom's Kramer agrees with the "fewer but better" philosophy: "In 2010, you won't see as many Wii games from Capcom, but the ones we release will be much larger, event-size games. I also expect to see the market dominated more and more by Nintendo releases with fewer games from the major third parties, like EA, Activision, and Ubisoft."
I hope this means more monster hunter tris and less resident evil: darkside chronicles...es.

RE4-2, come on
 

Kintaro

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All of this is becoming an inside joke now isn't it? It has to be. Either way...I need some popcorn.

 

Aaron Strife

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Vinci said:
Oh, you know that's not what it means...
hope (noun) - 1. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best: to give up hope.

know (verb) - 1. to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty: I know the situation fully.

yeah :(
 
Dec 3, 2006
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hokahey said:
Nintendo fans demand quality.

Casuals need to be told about it.

Quality + Advertising = Wii sales

Now if Capcom would like to give me a million dollars for explaining it to them they can shoot me a PM.


Uh....hm.

This is quite possibly the most concise post i've ever read in any Wii thread. I have nothing to add.
 

EatChildren

Currently polling second in Australia's federal election (first in the Gold Coast), this feral may one day be your Bogan King.
Jan 29, 2008
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They cant do anything. They're better off hoping that Nintendo throws them a big bone for the Wii's successor and it launches with the appropriate lineup and marketing of third party titles.

The Wii isn't ever going to see dedicated third party support and no debate will change that. I've grown to accept and am happy with the lower budget indy games that come from developers like Grasshopper. Quite frankly, they're often more memorable anyway.
 

Y2Kev

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Nintendo should offer to co-market some of these titles.
 

kame-sennin

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Cosmonaut X said:
TBH, I think a lot of companies are so committed to the idea that a good Metacritic score and favourable gaming media impressions are guarantees of sales success (and perhaps with good reason given the apparently strong correlations there on the HD twins) that when a Wii game doesn't perform to expectations in spite of scoring well they're baffled.

You can see this in the comments from people following the underperformance of Dead Space: Extraction and MadWorld - utter puzzlement as to how their games didn't sell when they reviewed well and ticked the big ol' Metacritic box.

That's because the people who review HD games are a good sample of the HD customer base. The people who review Wii games are an incredibly poor representation of the Wii customer base; see the metacritic score for Wii Sports.
 

RurouniZel

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GitarooMan said:
I think the Zack & Wiki comment just reeks of misunderstanding. News flash: Well-reviewed non-branded game with a weird name and cover in a niche genre doesn't sell, who woulda thought it? Advertising wouldn't have helped, it's a game without a market. The kids who may like the cover and art on the whole will pick up Ben 10 or something and outside of the few informed older people who know it's quality, most are just going to give it a sideways glance and say WTF is that and move on.

New IPs can be sold, in new and quirky (or under appreciated) genres if you do one or both of the following.

1) Set aside a budget for 3 games. Create and release the 1st game using 1/3 of budget. A year later, release a 2nd for another 1/3 of the budget. Finally, release a 3rd game with the remaining budget. If properly made and marketed, a new genre can pick up steam with each further installment. This is called cultivating a market.

2) Start it at a small price to convince skeptical gamers to take a chance (see the original Katamari Damacy)
 

Flachmatuch

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Looks like gaming industry experts now understand the Wii as well as the average Gaf sales-age poster did two years ago. Nintendo will keep doing pretty well if the rest of the industry keeps this up.
 

boiled goose

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GitarooMan said:
I think the Zack & Wiki comment just reeks of misunderstanding. News flash: Well-reviewed non-branded game with a weird name and cover in a niche genre doesn't sell, who woulda thought it? Advertising wouldn't have helped, it's a game without a market. The kids who may like the cover and art on the whole will pick up Ben 10 or something and outside of the few informed older people who know it's quality, most are just going to give it a sideways glance and say WTF is that and move on.

i agree with this. as much as i loved zack and wiki, it was a great game with childish cover art, hellish often frustrating difficulty, in a niche genre, with a terrible name, and a new ip.
 

carlo6529

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Zack and Wiki is an awesome game. I paid full price for it but Capcom screwed up big time with it. I really do not know who they were marketing the game to during development and to be honest, I don't think they knew.

Some times I wonder how the game would sell today if they redesigned the boxart and renamed the game.
 

Tiktaalik

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"Sure, Game Party spawned Game Party 2 and Game Party 3, but is there any question why the sequels didn't do as well?" asks Pachter rhetorically. "Who needs more mini games? It's the same phenomenon as Guitar Hero. Once you have two or three of those games, you have a couple of hundred songs. How many more do you need? 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."

3rd parties were lead astray by early successes of "me too" mini game titles and now they don't know what to do. My feeling is that quality is what will sell well, and I think this has been proven correct with the success of EA's Wii Sports Active, but the problem is that quality comes with a price. Wii games may be cheaper to make than games on HD systems, but that doesn't mean they're cheap. After all the Wii is still PS2 era technology, and Wii games are more time consuming to make than PS2 games due to the unique nature of the controller. As a result, the costs to make a Wii game are still significant. Adding on to this is the main issue for 3rd parties, which is that not many of them have IPs in their existing lineup that match up well with the "made for everyone" style of Nintendo's successful titles. This means that to be successful they will have to create new IPs in a style that is completely new to them. Another significant investment.

At this point my advice would be to not be afraid to walk away from the Wii market. Sure the market is big, but if you aren't convinced you'll make money on it then take a time out and focus on other areas until the console cycle switches again. There are lots of other interesting areas for expansion in the games space, such as social networking, portable games and mobile games.

If a 3rd party publisher doesn't have any IPs that are suitable for the Wii audience, or they're unwilling to bring over some existing IP they have for fear that it's unsuitable, why waste the cash? The time for new IPs is when a system launches. 3rd parties made the wrong choices this time around and invested in cheap titles that had no legs as an IP. Next time around they should consider more serious investments in creating IPs that will work for everyone and which they'll be able to build upon.

To some extent this is what the tone of this argument suggests, with the Capcom spokesperson telling the reader to expect less games from 3rd parties.
 

andycapps

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hokahey said:
Nintendo fans demand quality.

Casuals need to be told about it.

Quality + Advertising = Wii sales

Now if Capcom would like to give me a million dollars for explaining it to them they can shoot me a PM.

I disagree. Nintendo fans seem to support Nintendo first party games in droves, outside of that they're very unpredictable. Marketing and being a well made game hasn't necessarily translated into success for 3rd parties. Sometimes it has and sometimes it hasn't. Family friendly games that are made well are probably the sweet spot. So stuff like the Rayman games and whatnot.

And yeah, there are some exceptions, but my point is that what you said isn't necessarily always true. With EA Active it is, for sure
And we were one of those sales :D

The 3rd party support with the new Silent Hill game and a few others lately has made me happy though. We'll see how those sell over the next few months and whether there will be sequels.
 

RurouniZel

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andycapps said:
I disagree. Nintendo fans seem to support Nintendo first party games in droves, outside of that they're very unpredictable. Marketing and being a well made game hasn't necessarily translated into success for 3rd parties. Sometimes it has and sometimes it hasn't. Family friendly games that are made well are probably the sweet spot. So stuff like the Rayman games and whatnot.

The 3rd party support with the new Silent Hill game and a few others lately has made me happy though. We'll see how those sell over the next few months and whether there will be sequels.

Nintendo fans, yes. They love Mario and Zelda and Metroid etc. etc.

Wii Fans don't always = Nintendo fans.
I hope I don't have to explain that...
 

OldJadedGamer

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Article said:
One thing's for sure -- the focus has changed. Stores like Target and Best Buy have reportedly told game publishers not to even bother approaching them with collections of mini games, which they will no longer pick up.

This is something I want to hear. Wonder if too many of these games were being brought back or they were simply just not moving stock.
 

Flachmatuch

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andycapps said:
I disagree. Nintendo fans seem to support Nintendo first party games in droves, outside of that they're very unpredictable. Marketing and being a well made game hasn't necessarily translated into success for 3rd parties. Sometimes it has and sometimes it hasn't. Family friendly games that are made well are probably the sweet spot. So stuff like the Rayman games and whatnot.

This isn't really different from any other console though. If success was always 100% guaranteed, there would be no need for a market, competition or anything like that. These idiots essentially keep blaming the market and not their own lack of understanding.

It's incredible how people who regularly demonstrate their cluelessness can still be considered as experts no matter how stupid their predictions and analyses turn out to be. They seem to have less responsibility than someone who works at the lowest levels of retail and can be fired for a small mistake, it's incredible :)
 

GC|Simon

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Feb 4, 2006
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It's so easy to have success on Wii. Just follow these steps:

1) Create a game concept.
2) Make a new thread over here and ask for feedback.
3) Read the following 100 pages.
4) Create a new game concept which GAF will like.
5) Show it GAF and earn compliments.
6) Let GAF create the marketing campaign and ask GAF how much money they need.

That's it.

Your game will be a super mega hit like God Hand or Mad World!

;-)
 

Vdragoon

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May 18, 2007
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andycapps said:
I disagree. Nintendo fans seem to support Nintendo first party games in droves, outside of that they're very unpredictable. Marketing and being a well made game hasn't necessarily translated into success for 3rd parties. Sometimes it has and sometimes it hasn't. Family friendly games that are made well are probably the sweet spot. So stuff like the Rayman games and whatnot.

And yeah, there are some exceptions, but my point is that what you said isn't necessarily always true. With EA Active it is, for sure
And we were one of those sales :D

The 3rd party support with the new Silent Hill game and a few others lately has made me happy though. We'll see how those sell over the next few months and whether there will be sequels.

pray tell what number of games fall under this category. i don't even need the fingers on one hand to know the answer.
 

Flachmatuch

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Dec 22, 2005
3,388
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GC|Simon said:
It's so easy to have success on Wii. Just follow these steps:

1) Create a game concept.
2) Make a new thread over here and ask for feedback.
3) Read the following 100 pages.
4) Create a new game concept which GAF will like.
5) Show it GAF and earn compliments.
6) Let GAF create the marketing campaign and ask GAF how much money they need.

That's it.

Your game will be a super mega hit like God Hand or Mad World!

;-)

I know this is a joke, but there seem to be quite a few people on Gaf (not me hehe) who actually do understand the market better than these clowns, who keep repeating arguments that are routinely left alone as uninformed and ignorant on sales-age threads.
 

Hero

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Again, third parties will have a right to bitch when they release a full fledged game built specifically for the Wii that is a mainline entry in a series made by a top tier team. No on rails shooters, no spin offs, no mini-game collection bullshit.

If third parties were to release an exclusive Wii version of games such as Resident Evil 6 or Final Fantasy XV then they'd have a reason to bitch and whine and complain about Wii owners.

It absolutely boggles my mind that third parties expect Wii owners to buy everything they release. As I've said in the Capcom thread, making a game is only half of the equation. Catering to the audience or filling in a gap that's missing in the lineup and then marketing it well is the other half. The guy at Capcom USA who thought "Zack and Wiki" was a localization of the game is an idiot. You'd think they'd try and ride the recent popularity of pirates thanks to the Disney movies but no, generic names thrown together.

Hey third parties, here's some free analyst advice for you: Consumers aren't as dumb as you think they are. They read previews, reviews and generally are aware of what the game is before they buy it. Resident Evil 4, despite being a port of a GCN game sold exceptionally well. When you go and release not one, but two light gun games while just using the Resident Evil brand name to try and help sell it, consumers and fans will note this and not buy it because that's not what they want to fucking play. It's really a simple concept.

All this generation has done is prove why the video game industry is not taken seriously. When the writing is on the wall and you have multiple opportunities to snatch up sales from a system that is tracking record-shattering numbers and you fail to grab that, that's no one's fault but your own. Instead of accurately tracking how the first year after the PS3 and Wii ended and adjusting their companies' direction, third parties chose to try and defy the phenomenon for various reasons. Any smart business man would've recognized how much opportunity there is and started developing games with real effort in them. But instead these companies are run by idiots who think they can half ass the process and release shit and expect it to sell.

That's not how the real world is and unfortunately for a lot of third party companies, they're going to wind up paying the price of their arrogance and stupidity.
 

Burai

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Oct 19, 2006
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Third parties really don't need the Wii so long as the HD consoles are able to shift software. I can't imagine anyone at Infinity Ward is kicking themselves for not backing the market leader, for instance.

Developers backed the wrong horse at the beginning of the generation and still won. That's the great thing about "blue ocean" strategies. By completely bypassing market trends, Nintendo didn't really need third parties. But at the same time, third parties could carry on as if Nintendo didn't exist and still thrive elsewhere
 

Penguin

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I'm happy that companies are finally coming around to the casual= success on Wii.

I really don't want a game company coming out and saying we will make this type of game for X and this type of game for Y. I think that's why Nintendo succeeds on their games. They seem to paint large, broad strokes, which may not be for everyone, but for the majority of their consumers.

I mean it dawned on me when looking at some of the top games in sales for this past year, that Nintendo is one of the few companies that makes games with not just a casual/hardcore appeal, but global appeal as well. I mean sure its Mario, but not many other games are among top sellers in all 3 major regions.