Fallout and Oblivion publisher Bethesda has told GamesIndustry.biz that it plans to target the market for mature games on Nintendo's Wii, with at least one big release to be announced later this year.
Sega has already targeted the Wii with two 18-rated titles – MadWorld and House of the Dead: Overkill – with rival Electronic Arts also hoping to carve an adult niche on the home console with a squeaky-clean reputation.
"We are going to make an announcement on a really big Wii game this year, we've got a couple of other things in the pipeline, and it's a format we're really looking at with the right approach," revealed Sean Brennan, managing director for Bethesda in Europe, in an exclusive interview published today.
"I've got consoles at home but I wouldn't sit and play an 18-rated game with my family on the Wii," he said. "Is there space in the Wii market for that? I think there is, but again, it's all about finding out how big that is. Is it 5 per cent? If it's five per cent of the market and you can own that space it's worth doing because you can achieve volume. If you can't own it at five per cent, it's not worth doing, quite frankly," he added.
Brennan said that the company isn't going to announce a dedicated label for the Wii as some of its rivals have, and it isn't about to churn out sugar-sweet titles for the tween market.
"We're not going to establish a new range and call it 'My Girly Game Range' or whatever these other companies are doing, it's so me-too and boring.
"Looking at the opportunities in the Nintendo space is interesting for us because it's more driven by getting the right product for the demographic and also the right quality. We're not going to do a hamster simulator, it's not us. We're not going to produce games for girls or pet-sim products. There's nothing to distinguish them from one another," he said.
Sega's success with MadWorld – which only entered the charts at 34 on its first week of release – and House of the Dead: Overkill, has been marginal on a console considered to be family-friendly and awash with casual titles.
As well as Bethesda, Electronic Arts has its eyes set on capturing a more mature audience on the Wii, with the company's Glen Schofield confident the upcoming release of Dead Space: Extraction can sell well even if it only gels with a small percentage of the 50 million installed base.
Bethesda also sees the opportunity with a console that is leaving its home rivals behind. Only a handful of publishers are really making a success in the Wii's casual market, and Brennan believes that the idea of establishing a mature business on the machine isn't just the latest bandwagon.
"We have huge respect for the Nintendo platforms, and from a marketing perspective globally they've been phenomenal. It would be churlish to ignore that space," he admitted.
"It was a problem with the DS space as well, because as soon as you spot the bandwagon, it's already too late. People don't get that. There are still some people jumping on the bandwagon but it's not within our business philosophy."
The full interview with Sean Brennan, in which he also discusses the the pros and cons of releasing downloadable content for home consoles, the impact it has on sales of boxed product, and more, can be read here.