Hoping to stimulate downloadable Wii game sales, Nintendo is beginning a trial program offering downloadable demos for a small number of WiiWare titles, company CEO Satoru Iwata said in an investor Q&A.
The program will begin later this month, according to an IGN report
on the financial results briefing. Iwata acknowledged that the overall market for WiiWare and DSiWare, Nintendo's digital distribution services for its Wii and Nintendo DSi consoles respectively, is relatively small, and game demos might serve to introduce new customers to the service.
That admission vaguely corroborates research by Gamasutra publisher Simon Carless
, which estimates that across the low-, mid-, and high-end sales tiers, WiiWare games on average sell fewer units than their Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network counterparts.
While the median 40 percent of Xbox Live Arcade games are projected to sell between 50,000 and 100,000 units, and the median 40 percent of PlayStation Network games are projected to sell between 35,000 and 75,000 units, the overall majority -- 60 percent -- of WiiWare games are projected at 5,000 to 20,000 units.
Iwata believes that current WiiWare consumers already know what games they plan to purchase before they enter the online store; he indicated demos are only one possible route to a solution, and may not be the correct answer. By contrast, Microsoft and Sony have been considerably more aggressive about including more integrated advertising for XBLA and PSN offerings throughout their consoles' front ends.
There was no indication as to whether Nintendo has committed to broadening demo availability, or when such a move would take place.