Indeed, a recent GameFly "new release" listing included 62 new titles for the PS3, 72 for the Xbox 360 -- and 145 for the Wii.
Similarly, the current ESRB ratings list shows 696 titles for the PS3, 957 for the Xbox 360 -- and 1,415 for the Wii.
"The sheer number of games being thrown at the Wii is tremendous," according to Matt Matthews, Gamasutra's internal game analyst, who points out that the ESRB lists just 1,392 titles for the Nintendo DS, which has been out since late 2004, and 1,943 titles for the PS2... which has been out for a decade.
"How many of those [Wii games] do you think cost more than $5 million to develop? Probably five," asked Pachter. "And how many cost over $3 million? Probably 100. The problem is that they're so easy to make. I think there are three Wii cheerleader games on the market. There's a lot of that crap around."
Even if a Wii game becomes a bestseller, says Pachter, it is unlikely to create the sort of franchises that make PS3 and Xbox 360 games so profitable.
"Sure, Game Party spawned Game Party 2 and Game Party 3, but is there any question why the sequels didn't do as well?" asks Pachter rhetorically. "Who needs more mini games? It's the same phenomenon as Guitar Hero. Once you have two or three of those games, you have a couple of hundred songs. How many more do you need? The nature of the games that succeed on the Wii don't lend themselves to sequelization and this business is all about creating franchises. Like Madden. Like Halo."
Pachter's best advice to third-party publishers is to either spend less money on their Wii games and have low expectations of game success or spend enough money to make a quality experience that appeals to everybody, like Nintendo's Big Brain Academy or Electronic Arts' EA Sports Active.
Capcom's Kramer agrees with the "fewer but better" philosophy: "In 2010, you won't see as many Wii games from Capcom, but the ones we release will be much larger, event-size games. I also expect to see the market dominated more and more by Nintendo releases with fewer games from the major third parties, like EA, Activision, and Ubisoft."
In Kramer's opinion, no one should perceive the reduction in Wii titles as an abandoning of the platform. "Instead," he said, "it's a case of the third-party publishers trying to figure out how they can make a return on their investment and maintain profitability. Maybe," he said jokingly, "the secret is for all of us just to adopt a Sega model -- and just stick Mario into every game we make."
But, says Pachter, "the real question is what is Nintendo going to do about the fact that their third-party software isn't moving since theirs is a royalty model and less content isn't good for them. They need to do something to encourage the third parties to create more, not less, content. Otherwise, Nintendo is going to lose all its third-party royalties and, well, they can't afford that."