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Retail

Riccitiello frustrated at lack of Wii success

Tue 10 Nov 2009 1:57pm GMT / 8:57am EST / 5:57am PST
BusinessRetailPublishing

EA CEO suggests Nintendo needs to release more titles to generate interest in format

EA's CEO John Riccitiello has noted his frustration at the low sales of Wii software, and suggested Nintendo needs to release more first-party titles in order to generate interest in the format.

Speaking during a call to investors last night, he admitted sales on the Wii were poorer than expected Ė despite his belief that EA is releasing the best third-party content on the console.

"To be honest with you, I think the Wii platform has been a little weaker than we had certainly anticipated. And there is no lack of frustration to be doing that at precisely the time where we have the strongest third-party share," Riccitiello told investors.

"Frankly, I think they need more beats in the year than they get out of a first-party slate Ė to be able to have the Wii software platform perform as well as they would like. We are building the products that I think the most highly rated on the platform and at this point in time, generating the most revenue of any third-party platform."

Nintendo needs to partner with third-parties at retail, said Riccitiello, to help both achieve success on a format suffering slower sales than last year.

"I think driving revenues up on that platform from where we already are, which is up substantially from where we were a year ago, we are reaching out to Nintendo to find ways to partner to push third-party software harder.

"Wii is where we are missing it and so I really do think that the opportunity exists to find different ways to partner with first party in this case to sort of help establish in the minds of the consumer legitimacy of some of these other brands when they are going out multiplatform because very, very few multiplatform titles are succeeding on the Wii."

However, Riccitiello did mention that he does not expect third-parties to achieve any success in Asian markets on the Wii, and reaching the installed base of over 50 million consoles would not be realistic.

"I would point out, by the way, the 50 million number of course includes Asia or Japan and I donít think any of the Western companies are likely to participate much at all on the Wii platform in Japan, so the addressable market we see is just a little bit below 40 million but that is still an important opportunity."

7 Comments

Samer Abbas Senior Research Analyst, Arab Advisors Group

3 0 0.0
Quite often low third party software sales on Nintendo consoles are blamed on first party-skewed tastes, so it is a nice change to see someone stating the opposite for once.

Posted:4 years ago

#1

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,271 2,440 1.1
First, 3rd parties claim 1st party sales overshadow 3rd parties. And now we have a 3rd party saying that Nintendo doesn't release enough 1st party titles to help them?

I really don't know anybody else to blame but 3rd parties for their failures.

EA puts out a late, dumbed down port (dumbed down in the eyes of franchise fans by putting in on rails - a very saturated market on Wii) and doesn't hype it up like their HD console games. And then tries to blame a lack of Nintendo 1st party games for the sales failure.

Why not drum up your own damn interest? Put some heavy effort into it. Spend that same kind of money you do on the HD systems. Make people want your product. You whack it off at the knees and wonder why it comes last in the race and then demand the winner give you new legs.

I'm face palming right now with the Dead Space: Extraction game case.

Posted:4 years ago

#2

Mat Bettinson Business Development Manager, Tantalus Media

97 0 0.0
I don't think the Wii audience wants super technically proficient ports of HD console games. It's been tried, it didn't work. It's common to read criticism of 3rd party output on Wii but quite frankly that seems like standard core gamer observer bias to me.

Ultimately if you make a console where the only games on it are novelty controller games and some first party casual classics ... well then, it's hardly appealing to core gamers. So publishers chase the audience that is there and the market becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

I can 100% see where Riccitiello is coming from. The one thing that might turn it around is if there was a good flow of first party software (I mean software, not novelty soft/hard bundles) then the Wii might have developed a market of gamers which return to the game store to buy games rather than shoving the Wii and the guitar/balance board in a cupboard.

I don't think that market ever would have mirrored the HD console core gamer market because, quite frankly, if you're into that stuff you'd just buy a HD console. However it could have been a more casual (rather than totally casual) viable gaming platform for third party publishing. Maybe it still can but it's going to require some radical action.

Posted:4 years ago

#3

Antony Cain Lecturer, Wakefield College

263 21 0.1
If only games like Mario Kart Wii, Wii Fit or Smash Bros Brawl had consistently been in the top sales charts... oh wait.

Nothing he says makes any sense to me and as far as Dead Space is concerned, here's something directly from EA's website:

"Nintendo Wii games have transformed the video game world; itís no longer all about violent shooting games or complicated role-playing games that have a high learning curve just to get to the 'fun part.'"

Posted:4 years ago

#4

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,271 2,440 1.1
Mat, how many publishers gave the Wii the same effort they gave HD consoles since the cycle began? Let's go back a little further actually when publishers began setting up their 7th generation strategies. How many pledged an equal effort and actually began allocating money and resources for it? None. Not a single big publisher.

So what happened the first year or two? They all admit the Wii caught them with their pants down. So what do they do to try to fix the problem...the cheapest crap they could do (because they already allocated all their money and main people elsewhere). All the while Nintendo is releasing titles that cover both markets. Mario Kart Wii, SSBB, SMG, MP3, Zelda and selling them very, very well. 3rd parties cry they can't compete against Wii so they continue to pump out the cheapest products they can to take advantage of the new hotness and mitigate any financial losses on poor sales.

Then I see all these "test" games from publishers. If X game sells well, we'll keep pushing mature content on Wii. This is where they failed a 3rd time. You don't test games to see if demand exists, you create demand. Don't tell Wii gamers to buy an HD console for X game while never suggesting the opposite (suggest HD gamers buy a Wii for X game). And each one of these "test" games have all had their own little caveat to sales to begin with. MadWorld; overly violent waggle fest with hard to grasp visuals. Dead Space: Extraction; relegated to rails (by the Gods of Gaming we've had enough of those) and late to the party. Dead Rising: CTYD; no jumping, no camera, reduced environmental weaponry, etc... Things done in the hopes of making it more casual friendly. *facepalm*

But what happens a a good 3rd party core game effort (effort = development + marketing) comes around? They sell pretty darn good.

It's all about effort. You give a half assed effort, with a half assed concept, support by half assed marketing - you have no right to complain about half assed sales.

Posted:4 years ago

#5

Mat Bettinson Business Development Manager, Tantalus Media

97 0 0.0
Jimmy, you seem to be suggesting that the Wii market is buggered because publishers didn't do it right. We'll have to agree to disagree here. This suggestion that all of this is the fault of games that weren't 'just so' in terms of critical bang on Wii core mechanics etc... I think that's a stretch to say the least. This simply isn't a market that responds to quality like that. This isn't the first platform that's like this, the DS is the same. You can make the world's best game on DS but if it doesn't fit the audience it just aint going to sell.

There is a section of games, Nintendo first party, that does appeal to core gamers. You mention some of those. They've been selling well, they've been the only things selling. Some of them are great, some of them really aren't. I mean... look at what's still selling truck loads - you're telling me it's because those games are uber? Come now. They're selling because there's a big pile of them next to the Wiis in every EB, Woolies etc.

There's really, if you look at retail, a limited range of Wii exposure you can get. If you look at how the Wii has been performing really well, almost none of that was core gamers. I think the common flaw in thinking here is the assumption that the Wii sells like hotcakes so it must be all these people that can recognise how good Nintendo's excellent 1st party titles are. It's not though, it's people that bought it for Wii sports, the first videogame they've ever played. There's absolutely ZERO correlation between sales and quality in Wii sales.

Over the last year we've tried our hardest to shop around original content on the Wii and no one is interested in buying it and I'm not throwing my arms up saying that the guys I've failed to sell to are all idiots, I can understand WHY they're not buying. We have mountains of data on the buying habits of Wii owners and it just doesn't really support what you're saying. It's extrodinarily frustrating for us because the Wii is a fantastic platform and we've got some fantastic ideas for sorts of high quality games aimed at the casual/core crossover market.

Now if only that market existed on the Wii we might be in business...

Posted:4 years ago

#6

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,271 2,440 1.1
But it does exist. Several core market titles have sold well over a million units. Some big name franchises, some brand new IP's.

You did touch on another aspect but I consider it part of the overall marketing and that's retail. Big publishers pay premiums for store placement and shelf space allocation yet I see many big 3rd party Wii games don't get this same extra push.

World at War, while far smaller than the sales on the HD consoles, still sold 1.3 million units on Wii yet where is the marketing and retailer push for Modern Warfare Reflex? It's non-existent. I was at 2 EB's yesterday (their proliferation and merging tactics have made them almost as numerous and redundantly placed as Starbucks) and had I not known before hand that Reflex had released, you'd never know it in the store. I couldn't even find the game on the shelf.

I've seen more marketing and retail support for HD game failures (Ex: Stranglehold) than I've ever seen for even 1 single 3rd party core Wii title. How can you expect to gain and grow a user base with that?

Now I'll grant that as time moves on the ability to find success for core games on Wii is waning but it's pretty obvious the lack of initial support from publishers followed by the paltry attempt to catch up with C teams and C budgets and finalized by what feels like snubs, crumbs and after thoughts have ruined any chance at building a market for themselves with Wii.

Always help yourself before asking for help. Well, 3rd parties did very little to help themselves with a core Wii market and now asking Nintendo to do something about it (especially after complaining they were too dominating to start with) just strikes me as absolutely astonishing.

Posted:4 years ago

#7

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