Analyst: Wii 'Inhospitable' for Third-Party Games

"The Wii is a relatively inhospitable platform for third-party publishers," said analyst Doug Creutz of Cowen and Company in a report relayed by GamesIndustry.

Creutz clearly had a look at yesterday's NPD numbers in which Wii games took four slots on August's top ten console sales chart. Of those four, three were developed by Nintendo, and the fourth was annual sales juggernaut Madden NFL 09.

"The Wii version of Madden 09 sold 79 per cent less units than the PS3 version and 87 per cent less units than the 360 version, despite a larger console installed base," Creutz observed. By the numbers, even the PlayStation 2 version sold over three times as many copies as the Wii version.

Blake's take: When you sell the only current-generation system that allows selling "budget" games when they launch, you're bound to wind up with a library of games that aren't hits. Microsoft, for example, forbade selling games below a $40 price point at launch. The policy reared its head when Rockstar launched its table tennis game at $40, leading consumers to question the game's price tag. The logic, supposedly, was to restrict the console's library to games with more value in them.

The Wii, with its huge install base and lack of a Microsoftian price-equals-quality policy, was a welcoming platform for non-hardcore, easily produced games. These games aren't made to sell a million copies; they're made to turn a quick profit from a short development time and a movie tie-in. They're the fast food of games. As such, Wii's third-party entries on NPD have always been rare. The last two before Madden were Guitar Hero III and LEGO Indiana Jones--like Madden, two very big games that just happened to get a Wii port.

That the Wii version of Madden is under-selling the others is understandable. When a new sports game is released, it should sell better on hardware that generates more realistic images and has more flexible online play. But someone looking at NPD charts and wondering why the Wii's broader game library isn't showing up is just looking in the wrong place. The platform is profitable, even for third-party games. But when those profits don't go to Nintendo, they go to the guys that made the Wall-E game and sold it for $30. Simply put, looking for the Wii's third-party success in the NPD charts is akin to reading Bon Appetit magazine and wondering how McDonald's makes so much money.