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Pachter: Concept, Recognition Factor Scores On Wii
Pachter: Concept, Recognition Factor Scores On Wii Exclusive
March 9, 2009 | By Staff

March 9, 2009 | By Staff
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    6 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive



According to Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter, a successful Wii game often scores big because it has a great concept, has a high recognition factor, and does a good job of utilizing the Wii controllers.

"The Wii audience isn't sophisticated enough to know whether the game they're buying compares favorably to, say, Gears of War or LittleBigPlanet, because they probably don't own an Xbox 360 or a PS3," Pachter says, as part of a new Gamasutra feature examining what it takes to create a hit Wii title.

"They buy the Wii games that they buy for the same reason that people go to McDonald's," Pachter says. "McDonald's doesn't win a lot of restaurant critic awards but they are approachable, they're consistent, and you know what they're going to serve you."

"I mean, who sells more food -- McDonald's or Ruth's Chris Steak House, which certainly serves better meat? Nintendo has become the fast food machine. Sony is very much the high-end restaurant. And Microsoft is somewhere in between."

Concept is essential to attracting this audience, Pachter asserts, even more than its gameplay and feel. From the analyst's perspective, the more easily recognizable a game's concept is, the more successful it can be.

"If the concept is right, if the recognition factor is there, if you 'get it' from what's on the box, sometimes the game doesn't even have to be that good in order for it to sell," Pachter says. "When a housewife is in Wal-Mart and sees Jillian Michaels' face on Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2009 for Wii, nobody has to explain it to them."

"They recognize her from TV's Biggest Loser, they know they have a Wii Fit Balance Board at home, and they buy the game. Do they know whether it's a good game or not? Doesn't matter," he adds.

"For example, I thought THQ's de Blob was a really great Wii game, but Ubisoft's The Price Is Right outsold it 3-to-1. So did THQ's Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader: Make The Grade. That's sad. But it tells you who the audience is."

You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on creating a "must-have" Wii game (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).


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Comments


Rhodri Broadbent
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"For example, I thought THQ's de Blob was a really great Wii game but Ubisoft's The Price Is Right outsold it 3-to-1. So did THQ's Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader: Make The Grade. That's sad. But it tells you who the audience is."



There has for the longest time been a truth in the games industry that licensed products (games with instant brand recognition) can sell well despite poor quality, whilst many unknown or new properties fail to catch the public's interest. It's harder to market unknowns. I'm fairly sure this is established wisdom not new analyst insight.



Mr. Pachter's comments don't actually, despite his claims, 'tell [us] who the audience is' because none of the games he mentions sold to anything more than a small fraction of the Wii userbase - especially if you factor in the average number of potential users in a single household. 2 million sales is not at all indicative of 'the audience'.



Indeed, if as Mr. Pachter suggests sales are to tell us 'who the audience is' (a particularly short-sighted way to judge anyway), then Mario Kart Wii, Twilight Princess, Guitar Hero, and Super Smash Brothers should be our guiding lights. Hopefully quality games like de Blob can rise with the tide as more and more of us try to create compelling Wii software.

Mickey Mullasan
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I don't think we should judge harshly the makers of "The Price Is Right" or "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader: Make The Grade" since they might be quite happy to make those products just as there are fans who are quite happy making Big Daddy costumes and there are people quite happy making flash cards for their fifth grade math class. But to say that we should all fall in line and make flash cards for fifth graders so that we can make more money is silly.



I'd rather be poor and making KLWEHFLKHA, which is something you've never heard of yet, then coopt my own happiness as a creator. Maybe I'd want to make flash cards, who knows, I might have the inspiration to make the coolest freakin flash cards according to my taste. Until then, I really couldn't care less that flash cards are popular with the kids and sell well because that is just not my inspiration right now.

MICHAEL PORTER
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"The Wii audience isn't sophisticated enough to know whether the game they're buying compares favorably to, say, Gears of War or LittleBigPlanet, because they probably don't own an Xbox 360 or a PS3,"



I don't agree with this statement, because as a brand new Wii owner who has been an Xbox 360 and a PS3 audience member for a much longer period of time, I know exactly how to compare the different style of games on the systems. I believe Mr. Pachter should rethink his reasoning about the sophistication of an audience and not downplay how important this audience 'sophistication' really is. I would think that being an analyst would agree that numbers on the Wii are so grand right now that at least the market that Nintendo is diving into is stronger than ever. I don't think it's fair to call this audience unsophisticated. It's plain rude.



Second, I do agree that Nintendo has a consistent approach to the games it helps to put out. The Wii has so many different appeals to it right now that it fits in nicely with people's wants and needs. Nintendo does have the understanding to bring new concepts to the table and does apply what's it learned over the years to provide some exciting products. Most of them have been pretty consistent over the years.

John Runyun
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Great article, except for the fact that Joel had nothing to do with coming up with concept of Game Party or designing anything along with it.



He has, however, mastered taking credit for it.

Chris Melby
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I personally found Patcher's sophistication comment insulting, and it was rather naive of him to say the least. I'm a PC gamer and have been for decades, but I've also owned my share of consoles, including the Wii. I guess I don't fit nicely into his shallow assessment, nor do my friends.

Ian Fisch
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I don't think the McDonalds analogy is fair.



When you go to McDonalds you know exactly what you're gonna get - whether you're in New York or San Fransisco.



A lot of these budget titles succeed based on the exact opposite reason - the player expects something fun and gets a piece of trash instead.



These Wii budget titles are more like a half defrosted castle burger in a Big Mac wrapper.


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