Forums - Nintendo Discussion - NPD Analysis: How to Sell a Wii Game

From Wired

http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2010/01/npd-analysis-how-to-sell-a-wii-game/

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Analyst Jesse Divnich of EEDAR, in a note on Thursday, made what I think is the most cogent, cohesive argument about this situation that I’ve seen yet:

All too often the economy is blamed for the recent industry contraction. In reality, decreased sales in 2009 had more to do with a lack of innovation than economic recession. The growth of our industry now rests more on innovation than it ever has before, especially since non-traditional and casual markets consist of a larger share than in previous years. No longer can developers update a few maps, design some new weapons, add a few new characters, then throw a roman numeral at the end of the box and call it a “sequel”. That may work for core targeted games (Action, Shooters, and RPGs), but this strategy is not ideal for non-traditional and casual gamers.

Case in point: most sequels targeted to the mainstream and casual markets actually underperform in comparison to the original, which is the opposite to what has traditionally been the case for core targeted games. If you examine the Nintendo Wii and DS platforms (the current primary platform for this audience) Boom Blox outsold Boom Blox 2 (Wii); Brain Age outsold Brain Age 2 (DS); Guitar Hero III bested World Tour (Wii); The Bigs crushed The Bigs 2 (Wii); Mario & Sonic at the Olympics (Wii) is on track to outperform its Winter counterpart; Rayman Raving Rabbids (Wii) (2006) outsold its 2007 release; and lastly the original Cooking Mama(Wii, DS) (2006) has out sold all sequel versions combined.

EEDAR believes Nintendo understands the mindset of its consumers the best, which is why Nintendo rarely releases sequels within the same generation and, if they do, they are years apart. A good example of this is Mario Kart. Instead of releasing an annual Mario Kart title, Nintendo opts to only release one Mario Kart per hardware generation. Traditional thinking would assume that after an initial sales bump Mario Kart would simply just fade away on retail shelves—as so many others do. However, Nintendo realizes that if you can get an initial attachment rate on Mario Kart of 25% in 2008, they should be able to get the same attachment for new Wii purchasers in 2009 without having to release a sequel. To no surprise, the attachment rate for Mario Kart in 2009 was identical to that of 2008. Another example is Wii Fit. Whilst Nintendo did release a sequel to Wii Fit, The Wii Fit Plus (2009), the overwhelming majority of sales did not come from the stand-alone software edition, but rather the hardware/software bundle of the Wii Fit Plus. In other words the release of the expansion, which likely had minimal development costs, spurred sales of a 20 month old game wrapped in new packaging.

Of course this rule is not absolute for all casual and mainstream titles, some sequels do outperform the original, but in the overwhelming majority of cases, sequels on the Wii just cannibalize the potential sales of its predecessor. For reference, if the above examples were not proof enough, Call of Duty: World at War (2008) only outsold Call of Duty 3 by the smallest of margins and the most recent Call of Duty Modern Warfare: Reflex (2009) is currently on track to under-perform against World at War.

With the Wii making up the majority of the current casual and mainstream audience this finding should be carefully observed as Sony and Microsoft attempt to become more competitive in this space in future years.

So all you have to do is not release sequels? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy: All you have to do is nail it the first time. That’s harder. And unfortunately, this is not what many software makers seemed to be doing when they first approached Wii. Instead, the idea seemed to be: spend a little bit of money, make something barely acceptable — because screw ‘em, right, they’re casual gamers, they’ll play any old thing! — then follow up with a more polished sequel if it takes off.

Meanwhile, Nintendo keeps producing what are, by miles and miles, the most highly polished games on Wii. Third parties might not be able to have six million-sellers in a single month, it’s true. And, from where I’m standing, even great games like Boom Blox aren’t racking up the sales they deserve. But Divnich makes a compelling point: If software makers are not following the Nintendo-style model, they have very little room to complain that they’re not seeing Nintendo-style results.

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Summary: Krebs just got back from the war. He had trouble readjusting to his old life.  

 

I found this while doing my google news rounds and it raises a lot of interesting questions.  I think one of the main themes of this generation has been a lack of innovation. There's a been a whole lot of "same game, different number" and this NPD analysis points out that with the Wii audience that method of game making just doesn't cut it. It's also a funny if backhanded way of saying HD console consumers are far more forgiving of flaws in their tastes and essentially being exploited as cash cows since they can be sold the same thing over and over again.

More interesting to me are the implications regarding the future of gaming.  Somewhere in Malstrom's sea of babbling I remember reading something about how new companies adopting the new model will swim upstream and replace the old guard, essentially wiping them out and transforming the industry.  It sort of seemed like a far fetched idea to me, but the excessive sequelitis this generation and this article clicking was that 2 and 2 I needed to see that this is a distinct possibility.

I'm mostly curious what you think about this generation's sequelitis and how it compares to previous generations. Also, is this something that could become a major problem for the whole video game industry?



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First of all, a slight correction: it seems it's not an NPD analyst, rather someone from EEDAR.

As for his actual point... why is he ignoring the ton of titles which don't have sequels, but don't have nearly as great legs as those cherry-picked examples?

I don't think this theory flies. If you can make a high-quality and highly appealing title like Mario Kart, it shouldn't get a sequel. The reverse is not true though.



My Mario Kart Wii friend code: 2707-1866-0957

I read the entire article (not just EEDAR analysis) and was so refreshing after that IGN crap. I agree with most of what it said.

Third parties had a different mentality than Nintendo and lost customer's faith. It seems that way. About sequels, the problem is that very little changes are made so people are not willing to pay for that and prefer a new experience. Wii owners bought the Wii because it 's innovative and third party companies haven't materialized on that.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 won't sell as much if it is the same with minor changes.



Castlevania Judgment FC:     1161 - 3389 - 1512

3DS Friend Code:   3480-2746-6289


Wii Friend Code: 4268-9719-1932-3069

I imagine third parties have burned a lot of bridges on the Wii. As much as I think Red Steel 2 will be miles above the first one, I have the sneaking feeling it's going to sell less. Not only because of Red Steel 1, but because Ubisoft has become the LJN of this generation.

I have a feeling 20 years down the line there's going to be a whole generation of gamers that had Wiis as kids, memories of playin Mario Kart and NSMBW, and Assassin's Creed won't even be remembered. Ubisoft's legacy this generation will probably be defined by the shovelware, because the biggest audience will be the one defining them.

This pretty much sums up LJN, but anyone who was a kid in the NES generation learned this rule after 1 or 2 screwed weekends stuck with a shitty game:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fReujT2cdx4



Let us just for sake of argument assume he is correct.


Good for devs, bad for consumer. That game I bought 2 years ago doesn't really hold the same appeal it did when it was new, I'd much rather have a sequel game and something to enjoy than sit back and cheer for some dev while bored of my old game.



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KylieDog said:
Let us just for sake of argument assume he is correct.


Good for devs, bad for consumer. That game I bought 2 years ago doesn't really hold the same appeal it did when it was new, I'd much rather have a sequel game and something to enjoy than sit back and cheer for some dev while bored of my old game.

He's arguing that paintjob sequels are good for devs (quick and easy to do) and bad for consumers (buying the same game twice).  it's also essentially stating that paintjob sequels are bad in the eyes of Wii consumers because it's percieved as buying the same game twice.  Red Steel 2 is looking like the right way to handle a sequel: new setting, all new mechanics, coming out a few years later, even a new art style.

The model he's suggesting would be much harder on developers because it would require them to constantly innovate and come up with new ideas. Imagine a world where MW2 sells 1/10th what MW1 does, you'd have to do a lot of things very differently to make people want to buy it.



Sequelitis has always been really bad. 6 Mega Man games on the NES, 4 main Sonic games on the Genesis, 500 versions of Street Fighter 2, etc.

But it does seem like some companies are speeding up these days. Activision released Guitar Hero 5, DJ Hero, and Band Hero, all within a few months, and they definitely cannibalized each other (and the whole genre) and combined they won't touch Guitar Hero 3 or 4. Valve normally makes 1 game every 50 years and it changes the world, but they made Left 4 Dead 2 within a year of Left 4 Dead 1 and it pissed off a bunch of their fans. Microsoft/Bungie made 2 Halo games last generation, and they're already making their 4th this generation. Mario got 4 platformers on the NES (in Japan), then 1 platformer each on the SNES, N64, and GC, and now he's getting 3 on the Wii.

But if you look at the list of the greatest selling games of all time, almost all of them are games that didn't get an immediate sequel. So it does make sense.

@cAPSLOCK, yeah I agree that Ubisoft will be remembered mostly for their trash by the Wii gamer generation of tomorrow. A lot of these companies are just pissing gamers off with shovelware and pissing stockholders off by losing money, and insulting and abandoning the fans of the most successful console of all time isn't going to make anybody care when they go down in flames.



KylieDog said:
Let us just for sake of argument assume he is correct.


Good for devs, bad for consumer. That game I bought 2 years ago doesn't really hold the same appeal it did when it was new, I'd much rather have a sequel game and something to enjoy than sit back and cheer for some dev while bored of my old game.

What if instead of a sequel you got an entirely new game instead?

And what if the original game was more polished and more attractive?

That's what I see the reasoning in this article. I'm all for that. Are you?



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@ Capslock

Was a Wii owner, I am antecipating Red Steel 2 two, but I want to flop so hard to give losses for Ubisoft.

Also the swordplay from the game isn't quite 1:1 and that might hurt it a bit.



Bamboleo said:
@ Capslock

Was a Wii owner, I am antecipating Red Steel 2 two, but I want to flop so hard to give losses for Ubisoft.

Also the swordplay from the game isn't quite 1:1 and that might hurt it a bit.

Sad to say I kinda feel the same way about....well just about everything, including Ubisoft



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