The Wii sales winners and losers

With the holiday period having come and gone, and Nintendo stumbling with both Animal Crossing: City Folk and Wii Music, there were some genuine opportunities for third party games to shine. TVGB takes a look at which titles were able to capitalize on Nintendo shooting blanks and the others that sunk without a trace.

Winners

Shaun White Snowboarding. Ubisoft really seem to have struck gold with this one. The stylized visuals and solid use of the Balance Board captured the attention of gamers, and reviews that scored it higher than its HD cousins can’t have hurt either. As an indication of the title’s success, Ubisoft compared the importance of the new IP to their multi-million selling Rayman Raving Rabbids series.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. According to NPD data, in the month of its release The Force Unleashed sold 220,000 copies, and VGChartz has its current sales at just over a million. Despite coming at a time when LucasArts is waning in strength both as a developer and publisher, the game has been an unqualified sales success for the company.

Guitar Hero World Tour. Is there a franchise out there that is a better fit for the Wii? Outside of Nintendo’s own titles, the answer has to be no. Having streamlined the game’s online interface and SD card usage (and stolen most of Wii Music’s thunder), NPD data showed World Tour topping a million in sales through December in the U.S. alone.

Sonic Unleashed. The faith that Wii gamers have shown in Sega’s mascot has yet to be matched in quality by any game he’s appeared in on the system. Whether he’s competing in the Olympic Games, collecting Secret Rings or transforming into a lumbering werewolf, his games are pretty much guaranteed to top the million mark. Will Sonic and the Black Knight finally be the game to genuinely merit enormous sales?

Moderate Successes

de Blob. Having sold through a reasonable 230,000 copies in the U.S. in December, and with THQ having shipped 700,000 copies worldwide, de Blob can be considered a success. A sequel has also been confirmed to be in the works meaning developer Blue Tongue has without a doubt established a new IP on the Wii.

Call of Duty: World at War. Retailers seem to have dropped the ball with this one by underestimating demand. Anecdotal reports suggest the Wii version of World at War proved difficult to find, yet despite this fact NPD showed the game selling through 380,000 in the U.S. by December of last year. It would be surprising if by the time the sixth in the series arrives, World at War hasn’t achieved million seller status. Perhaps then Wii gamers will be deserving of some Nazi zombies…

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. With combined U.S. and Japanese sales of 300,000, Dawn of the New World can only be considered a moderate success when its lower development costs and poor review scores are taken into account. By reusing many assets from the first game, Namco are likely making a decent profit on this title despite it not coming close to matching the sales of the first game. There is no doubt though that this has been a real missed opportunity – one that the developer is attempting to rectify with the next Tales of game on the system.

Rock Band 2. While the sequel rectified all of the problems of the first game, and now very closely matches the HD versions in terms of features, Wii gamers have been relatively slow to purchase Rock Band 2. This is likely due to Guitar Hero World Tour coming out a little earlier, and the first Rock Band game still being fresh in gamer’s minds; Rock Band 2 may have started slowly but will likely have long legs through ’09.

Losers

Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars. This title makes an interesting comparison to de Blob. Both can be considered platformers, but where the bright and breezy de Blob sold enough to merit a sequel, Mushroom Men never left the gates. Review scores for the game were quite a few points short of the magical 80% Metacritic average, and the game didn’t have any stand-out game mechanics that distinguished it either, but it must surely have been the dark and sophisticated art style that turned most potential buyers off the game.

Skate It. Another game that can be broadly compared to another on this list. Shaun White Snowboarding and Skate It were both attempts by competing publishing giants to put the Balance Board to work and try and capitalize on some of Wii Fit’s success. However Skate It’s rough visuals, questionable use of the Balance Board and subsequent mediocre reviews turned gamers off completely with VGChartz showing sales of the title at just over 100,000. A real missed opportunity on EA’s part who should be asking what went wrong while looking on enviously at Ubisoft.

Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels. A warning to any company that thinks using a popular license is enough to achieve success on the Wii. Just like gamers on the 360 and PS3, Wii gamers keep their money in their wallets when it comes to poor games – Star Wars license or no.

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