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Analyze This: Should There Be A 'Wii Seal of Quality'?
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Analyze This: Should There Be A 'Wii Seal of Quality'?

January 30, 2008 Article Start Page 1 of 4 Next

They are the professional analysts whose job it is to research, keep track of, advise their clients, and opine to the media about the gaming business. Analyze This cuts right to the chase.

Rather than reporting on a subject, and throwing in quotes by analysts to support or refute a point, Gamasutra offers up a timely question pertaining to the business side of the video game industry and simply lets the analysts offer their thoughts directly to you.

Each person's opinion is his own and will (probably) not necessarily agree with their fellow colleagues'.

Even over a year after its release, the Nintendo Wii is still in huge demand -- and difficult to find on store shelves. But some commentators are now vociferously claiming that the selection of Wii game titles contains a large number of underwhelming, if not downright lackluster titles, especially those from third-party publishers.

This change is allegedly tied to Nintendo being more permissive about the publishers and titles it concept and manufacturing approves, especially compared to rivals Microsoft and Sony. In fact, some third-party titles that look to have been rejected by SCEA for American PlayStation 2 release are now turning up on the Wii.

We asked Jesse Divnich of The simExchange, Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities and Ed Barton of Screen Digest:

Are you concerned about the long-term prospects of the Wii, if Nintendo manages to meet consumer demand for it this year?

Should Nintendo bring back the "Nintendo Seal of Quality" (or an alternative game approval method) to enforce more stringent standards for third-party Wii games?

Are there any upcoming Wii titles for this year that you believe will help the system -- besides the Nintendo franchise titles (e.g. Super Smash Bros. Brawl)?

Article Start Page 1 of 4 Next

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Leon T
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Looking at the sales of Carnival games and comparing them to the sales of Resident Evil 4 or even Madden 2008 and I don't see how that game is more fit for Wii owners.

Core games outsell casual games on the Wii. The good sales of Carnival games could be attributed to the fact that it was one of the few Wii third party games that had TV ads. Also if you visit some game forums you will see that some core gamers like the game.

The Wii like the DS will need a good mix of casual and core games.If people keep going on and on about how casual the Wii is and ignore good selling core games then most Wii owners will not be happy. Even casual gamers want something more than mini games.

Oliver Snyders
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They're just telling it like it is.

The Wii is a platform for casual gamers and the games that are coming out reflect that.

The Wii is also a platform for hardcore gamers, but I would venture that less than 40% of Wii owners got the console for Mario Galaxy, Smash Bros and Metroid. Oh, and Zelda.

The Wii is also a platform for ports and quick cash-in (on the trend) titles. This just adds to the casual title library, but this is where the shovelware comes in.

I'm a little bit more upbeat about the future quality of Wii games because of the supposed specialised teams being formed at Ubisoft and EA, as well as the increased priority the console has been given by Activision Blizzard (when it was just Activision) and THQ. Square Enix also factors into this, despite the negativity everyone has been spreading regarding 3rd party sales.

They know they have to find a way to monetise the fastest and best selling console on the market right now and if making better games is the way to do it, then, by Jove, I think they've got it.

Kirk Battle
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It'd be a shame to declare that only casual or hardcore games can sell on the Wii. A lot of the people I know who bought them are a new breed of gamer entirely: ex-core gamers. That silly job, spouse, and kids can make playing a 40+ game out of the question.

If the Wii wants to really innovate, it will take the casual 'easy to learn' game genre, the hardcore scene, buy them a nice bottle of wine, turn on some Barry White, and get them to make to make a brand new genre that combines both worlds.

I'm personally holding out for a casual game that manages to slip an epic plot in there somehow.

Steven An
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Ex-core gamers. That's got a nice ring to it.

I do consider myself a member of that group. As a teenager, I used to play a ton of very hardcore games (I beat Xenogears). But now, I'd rather play games as a leisure activity like TV or movies - not as a dedicated hobby that envelopes most of my free time. Thus, I find myself losing patience with most hardcore games these days. I thought I would love BioShock, but I didn't bother finishing it due to its inconsistent and rather spread out level of quality, and I now regret the purchase. As for "casual" games, well, they just don't appeal to me much.

A recent game that I think captures the "ex-core" essence is Portal. It's hardcore in that most non-gamers probably wouldn't be able to make heads or tails of it (it certainly requires some precision FPS and spatial thinking skills), yet it's casual in its length and difficulty. Those were the best 3 hours of gaming I can recall recently, and I came out of it wishing more games were like Portal.

Shorter and denser, please!

Victor Bunn
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I'm definitely not as hardcore as I used to be but ironically I still find time to play sessions of UTIII and Warhawk on PS3 that can last half a weekend. Wii on the other hand, I may play if for a few minutes or an hour at most and then walk away from it. So I guess you could say, I'm casually hardcore.

Anyway, the idea that both types of games can't exist on Wii is ridiculous. The problem is 3rd parties will develop quick cash ins, ports or just terrible games. Or worse, a developer will develop a good game but dedicate zero marketing dollars to it and then complain that core titles can't sell on Wii. Good business sense dictates if I take the time to develop a title on any platform that's adheres to industry standards of quality (consistent framerate, no clipping, clean design etc) AND market the game, I'll have a better chance of selling it.

Let's look at Soul Caliber Legends. Terrible game. With Soul Caliber 2 performing very well on Gamecube, one would imagine that a Soul Caliber fighting game would sell well on Wii considering it currently has no other fighting games. ANY Soul Caliber would have been a better choice than Legends. At the very least, as annoying as ports may be, a port or update of Soul Caliber 2 or 3 would have been better received than Legends by the core audience, provided it was at least marginally improved over the original game. Also, it would not have taken a huge investment to bring the game to Wii, increasing the chances of profit. I'd rather have an original SC but if companies are going to go port happy or just update old games on Wii, make better choices, use common sense and stop using lowest common denominator development practices. If developers would do this more often, a "Seal of Approval" wouldn't be necessary.

Ståle Tevik
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Ex-core or not, casual is mostly a trend-word anyway.

The issue here is making games available to the larger audience as well, and the compromises so far may not be the right ones to make. To make the interface truly intuitive. The less time you need to learn the interface, the more patience I am sure a gamer, casual or not, has with the game. Hard-Core gamers don't need flight simulator controls. Aeroplane enthusiasts might, but not a gamer, unless that depth of immersion adds to the fun in the game. Most hardcore pc gamers know wasd+mouse works fine, and in any shooter would probably try using that first. In a wii shooter the controls are pretty self-explanatory once you've got the nunchuk plugged in and are told to point at the screen with the wiimote. Like mr. Jeffries says, make the lovechild of casual and hardcore. 'Easy to learn' in my book means intuitive. All you need for the wii, mr. Jeffries, is a well written and designed game with adequately responsive controls, and you've got it. I don't know if Metroid (Wii) appeals to the casual gamers, but it seems to be a good example of how it could be done.

Andre Smith
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Casual Games ...

I remember reading an article about EA regretting not heading puting the Wii on their radar in early 2006 like they should of...

They said they regretted it and plan on making up for the lost ground; when I don't know.

Nintendo can't be blamed for the flunking of 3rd party titles, and I hope the trend doesn't lead them back into a "damned if you damned if you don't" wall. We all agree that 3rd party titles are 3rd rate titles on the Wii in majority.

In conclusion, we all know that there are many more things to a successful game outside of development, let's just agree that the console has nothing to do with that equation. (what can I say I loved pong) As for the fad or trend or surge or bubble or whatever, it will pop - when? I don't know. But for now know that Nintendo brand is iron clad, heeding it's luster you know it's sheer steel - it won't break easily. (Hint for sony: Insert Software here.)