Talking Point: Why Skyward Sword Sales Failed to Soar
Posted Sat, 28 Apr 2012 | 12:00 BST by James Newton
A classic Skyward Sword scene
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was one of the most anticipated Wii games ever. After years of teasing it finally launched in November 2011, and has so far racked up 3.52 million sales around the world, a decent performance over a five-month period. It's on par with Wii launch title Twilight Princess, which sold 3.27m units between December 2006 and 31st March 2007.
The obvious difference is Twilight Princess came at the start of the Wii's life, when motion control was fresh and new. Here we are, five years and 95 million consoles later, and Link's latest adventure only mustered an extra 250,000 sales. Clearly something went wrong, but what?
The biggest reason has to be that Skyward Sword just arrived too late. First hinted at back in 2009, the game was properly revealed at E3 2010 and eventually released in November 2011, five years into the Wii's life cycle. By this point, the Wii's audience had all but completely shifted across to the dance and fitness genres — arguably fulfilling a transition Nintendo started with Wii Fit — while fans of single-player adventures had to look elsewhere for their entertainment. You can count the number of quality solo-focused Wii games released in 2010 and 2011 on your fingers — maybe adding a toe depending on your feelings towards Metroid: Other M — and while Skyward Sword was pick of the bunch that's damning with faint praise (although we still love you, Xenoblade Chronicles). It's easy to understand if those who had been waiting for Zelda jumped ship to satisfy their single-player cravings, and it's impossible to tell how many of those 95m Wii consoles have been traded in, resold or simply left in cupboards, untouched.
Shigeru Miyamoto admitted Nintendo could have released an inferior Skyward Sword a year earlier, but that wouldn't have been the Nintendo way.
Wii hardware sales also played a big part in Skyward Sword's diminished impact — Twilight Princess had years of Wii hardware growth to attach to, whereas Skyward Sword has no such long-tail potential, barring an improbable second wind when Wii U comes out. By November 2011, Wii had lost practically all of its sales momentum: hardware sales fell nearly 35% against the previous year, and were more than 50% down on two years prior. The install base might have reached 95m, but falling hardware sales brings software sales down too: Wii game sales dropped from 171m to 102m year on year.
Some would point to the game's MotionPlus-exclusivity as a factor against its success, but with global Wii Sports Resort sales sitting at 30 million it's hard to argue there aren't enough MotionPlus-enabled controllers out there. Not to mention the fact every Wii sold since early 2010 came with either the add-on or Wii Remote Plus.
It's not all doom and gloom, though. Despite only launching in November, Skyward Sword was Nintendo's third biggest-selling Wii game of the past financial year, behind evergreen titles Mario Kart Wii on 5.4m and New Super Mario Bros. Wii on 4.3m. Compare this to previous years — NSMBWii sold a staggering 14.7m copies in its first financial year — and you can see the software slump affected Nintendo across the board, not just Zelda.
The real trio of power
Shigeru Miyamoto admitted Nintendo could have released an inferior Skyward Sword a year earlier, but that wouldn't have been the Nintendo way. While the company sacrificed bigger sales to put out a better game, it wasn't prepared to do the same with 3DS, admitting it completed the big Christmas Mario games as an urgent matter to grow the 3DS userbase.
Ultimately, considering the hype and critical reaction around the game, Nintendo will likely be disappointed Skyward Sword didn't have a bigger sales impact, but Zelda has always been as much about prestige as sales — as the sixth highest-rated Wii game ever (according to Metacritic), it's unlikely Miyamoto and team are crying into their sleeves about its sales.
It's interesting that the Wii's first and arguably last Christmas both came with Zeldas: one an adapted GameCube game with passable motion controls, the other built for the console and a game arguably impossible on any other format. That the two share such similar sales perhaps suggests nothing more than Zelda games continue to sell to the same group of people, rather than any specific failure on Nintendo's part. Either way, Wii owners received two excellent Zeldas in one console generation — at the day's end, is that anything to complain about?
Dragon Quest X Wii Lands in Japan on 2nd August
Posted Thu, 26 Apr 2012 | 14:30 BST by James Newton
Wii U version still a secret
Square Enix will release its online RPG Dragon Quest X in Japan this August.
The Wii game lands on 2nd August in two editions: the standard game costs ¥6,980, or you can buy it with a USB memory card for ¥8,980. If you buy the solus game, you'll need to provide your own USB memory stick with at least 16GB capacity, which is used for download content and update in the future.
DQX also ships on two discs, a real rarity for Wii games — we can't name any two-disc Wii games, but we're sure you can — and comes with a monthly service charge: ¥1,000 for 30 days, ¥1,950 for 60 or ¥2,900 for 90 days. Each game comes with a free 20 day period of play, and Square Enix will be hosting free "Kids' Time" periods where young ones can enjoy online play without paying.
The promised Wii U version is still under wraps.
GameStop Won't Be Selling Spirit Camera Second-Hand
Posted Tue, 01 May 2012 | 17:00 BST by James Newton
Hoping to grab a cheap pre-owned copy of Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir from GameStop? Sorry, your luck is out — the chain won't be trading in Nintendo's augmented reality experience.
The reason is the game relies on an intricate book bundled with new copies; without the book, the software's useless. Even a missing page could halt your progress forever. Rather than insist every store checks every copy intently, GameStop has issued a blanket refusal to trade it in, meaning no bargains for you.
That may not be such a bad thing, as our Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir review should point out.
Download Your Wii U Games Overnight
Posted Tue, 01 May 2012 | 17:15 BST by James Newton
"It took 14 hours to download this!"
10GB? No problem
Wii U will launch with a digital store offering downloads of retail games, but with the Wii U disc holding up to 25GB you could probably learn a sport to an Olympic standard in the time it'll take to download Pikmin 3. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata knows this, so Wii U will let you download games overnight.
Iwata told investors:
First, about your comment that digital download sales of packaged Wii U software may not be so attractive to consumers because of the amount of download time, it is true that downloading software with 10 gigabytes of memory cannot be done in an instant today, even with broadband connections. So, compared with the situation of portable gaming devices, where comparatively compact-sized software can be downloaded, we have to ask our consumers to wait for a longer time before the download process is completed. However, consumers will be able to use the Wii U effectively by finding convenient times to download software such as when they are sleeping at night.
The 3DS offers the ability to download titles in Sleep Mode so this isn't unprecedented for Nintendo — nor other consoles, which have offered standby mode downloads for some time — but it does mean you won't be sat tapping your watch for hours on end while Smash Bros. Wii U downloads.
Thankfully Wii U supports external hard drives so you can download to your heart's content.
Club Nintendo's Games of May Revealed
Four new choices available to grab across WiiWare and the eShop.
May 1, 2012
The calendar page has flipped once again, and that means a fresh refresh of the games available for Coins from America's Club Nintendo. Here's what you can pick up during the month of May:
One of the greatest DSiWare games Nintendo's ever produced, Art Style: PiCTOBiTS is a retro-tastic pixel puzzler that has you matching colors of falling blocks with taps of the stylus to assemble old-school NES sprites on the upper screen, all while listening to a killer chiptune soundtrack remixing classic Nintendo themes in the background. It scored an Editor's Choice Award and a Great rating of 8.5 when we reviewed it three years ago
, and is certainly this month's best option if you don't already own it. (Just remember that you need a 3DS to grab DSiWare games from Club Nintendo. An older DSi or DSi XL won't work.)
Club Nintendo Cost: 150 Coins
Jump to the Art Style: PiCTOBiTS reward page.
This month's other portable option is a lot less interesting, as it's good old clunky Urban Champion once again. I called this the worst game Nintendo's ever made in my review last August
and said 3D was wasted on it, ultimately scoring it with a Painful rating of 2.5. So, yeah, probably not the best choice for your Club Coins here in May.
Club Nintendo Cost: 150 Coins
Jump to the 3D Classics: Urban Champion reward page.
On the console side of things, Nintendo's offering up the WiiWare on-rails shooter Eco Shooter: Plant 530. I thought this one was Decent and worthy of a 7.0 score when I reviewed it in January 2010
, so it could be worth a second look today. The most interesting thing about it was its compatibility with the Wii Zapper accessory – Nintendo's only other game to support that peripheral was Link's Crossbow Training before this one came along.
Club Nintendo Cost: 200 Coins
Jump to the Eco Shooter: Plant 530 reward page.
And, lastly, we have Snowpack Park. This WiiWare release slipped past way under the radar back in November of 2010, but it's a bit like playing a milder, more casual version of Pikmin with a bunch of penguins following you around instead of plant creatures. Toss in Mii support, virtual pet aspects, some mini-games and a wintry aesthetic and you get a download that might also be worth the investment of a few surveys' worth of Coins to try out.
Club Nintendo Cost: 150 Coins
Jump to the Snowpack Park reward page.
And there you have them, the month of May's four new Club Nintendo game rewards for North America. These games will be available until June 1, when the calendar page will flip again and another new set of choices takes their place. Which of these, if any, will you be getting?
Lucas M. Thomas appreciates the reminder about the awesomeness of PiCTOBiTS, and is now powering up his DSi to give it another go. Join him on his IGN blog and Twitter.
Nintendo’s Iwata Pledges ‘Unprecedented’ 3DS, Wii U Games
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announces the Wii U at E3 2011.
Image courtesy Nintendo
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata spoke confidently about the future of the 3DS and Wii U in explaining last week’s digital distribution announcement during the Q&A portion of last week’s investors briefing in Tokyo.
“[W]e have not designed [Nintendo 3DS and Wii U] to be mere improved versions of their predecessors,” Iwata said. “We have designed them so that they can realize what has been impossible.”
Since the launch of Nintendo 3DS last year, Nintendo has put more of an emphasis on developing traditional games for hard-core players and less on Brain Age-style games for casual players. Iwata said that this was a deliberate strategy.
“[R]egrettably, what we prioritized in order to reach out to the new audience [on Wii and DS] was a bit too far from what we prioritized for those who play games as their hobby. Consequently, we presume some people felt that the Wii was not a game system for them or they were not willing to play with the Wii even though some compelling games had been released,” he said.
“Once consumers have a notion that ‘this system is not for us,’ we have learned that it is extremely difficult to change their perceptions later,” Iwata said. “Therefore, in promoting the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U, we have announced that we would like ‘width’ and ‘depth’ to coexist. With the Nintendo DS and the Wii, the approach of ‘width’ was well accepted by many people; however, what we did in terms of ‘depth’ was not satisfactory for some consumers. This time, we would like consumers to be satisfied in both aspects. In order to do so, we started to work on the ‘depth’ aspect first, and the current and existing software you can see for the Nintendo 3DS is based on that idea.”
If Wii U and 3DS appear to be just enhanced iterations of Nintendo’s previous machines, “because the company is yet to provide what it has done for the Nintendo DS with the Brain Age series or for the Wii with Wii Sports and Wii Fit,” Iwata said, it is only because Nintendo has not yet introduced software that truly makes them stand out.
He asked for patience, saying that just as “not so many people were able to comprehend the potential” of the killer apps for Wii and DS prior to their release dates, “it is not easy for us to convince many people by explaining what kind of new experiences we are developing now.” Iwata was also wary that if he explained projects under development too early, “it is possible that products with similar concepts could be launched before Nintendo itself can finalize and launch the products.”
Iwata faced many questions about Nintendo’s plan to offer downloadable games both on its own eShop store as well as on shelves at regular game retailers. He denied that digital games have less value than physical ones, because “being able to store a number of software titles in a hardware system” is an advantage consumers might prefer.
May 1st, 2012 Posted in 3DS
, Posted by Valay
Following last month’s unveiling of the Special Games mode in Mario Tennis Open, Nintendo has revealed even more details about the upcoming game, which launches for the portable Nintendo 3DS system on May 20. In addition to the variety of fun tennis games with a Mario twist in Special Games mode, fans will be able to connect with friends for online matches, enjoy new StreetPass features and unlock bonus game characters through game play and special QR Codes.
Newly revealed game elements include the following:
Online Play: Mario Tennis Open players can compete and cooperate in local wireless matches with other opponents and play exhilarating games. Players can also build up their Open Match standings, check the monthly leaderboard and win Victory Medals from every challenger they defeat.
Ink Showdown: In this fast-paced competition, Piranha Plants spit ink balls from the back edge of the court. Players must destroy the ink balls before they splatter, while hitting tennis balls away from an opponent.
StreetPass Features: Players can inspire friendly competition by using the Nintendo 3DS system’s StreetPass feature. They can engage in competitive StreetPass Matches or cooperative Ring Shot challenges with computer-controlled versions of people they encounter and share their StreetPass winning streak. StreetPass can also be used to show off players’ Mii characters, which can be customized with new outfits and accessories that can improve their on-court performance. As users play, new items for their Mii will be unlocked in the Item Shop.
Unlockable Characters: New and familiar Nintendo characters can be unlocked – some through game play, others via special QR Codes. Unlockable characters include Luma, Baby Mario and Dry Bowser.
For more information about Mario Tennis Open, visit http://mariotennisopen.nintendo.com.
Source: Nintendo PR
Sorry to add so much, but I had a lot of tabs open that needed filling.