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 Dead Space: Extraction  Sees Slow Early Start
Dead Space: Extraction Sees Slow Early Start
October 21, 2009 | By Chris Remo

October 21, 2009 | By Chris Remo
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    32 comments
More: Console/PC



Electronic Arts has publicly referred to Visceral Games' on-rails Wii shooter Dead Space: Extraction as a "test" -- and NPD sales data for the game's first week suggests it may get low marks.

NPD confirmed to Gamasutra that Extraction sold only 9,200 units in the United States in September, representing five full days at retail. The figure was first published by GameSpot.

The publisher has said it will partially interpret the game's reception, a followup to the original survival horror game Dead Space on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, as a reflection of whether gamers who own both a Wii and another game platform are willing to play more "mature" content on the Wii.

In August, Electronic Arts' European VP Dr. Jens Uwe Intat told GamesIndustry.biz that "Dead Space: Extraction is going to be a very nice test of that hypothesis."

"We'll actually see whether we can reach more people with a) a great game and b) interesting content," he said, adding, "If that's not going to work, then obviously the whole proposal from our point of view at least of more mature games on the Wii just does not work."

Sega too has waded into the waters of hardcore-targeted Wii games, publishing High Voltage's shooter The Conduit and Platinum Games' brawler MadWorld this year. Neither title approached 100,000 units sold in the U.S. upon release, although Sega indicated it was satisfied with early sales.


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Comments


Brandon Morris
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This really chaps me. Why would EA use an On-Rails game as a test of what the Wii market wants? I think 'core' wii owners are tired of these kinds of "tests". They put out a good game, and I give them credit for that, BUT do they think this is really something that console owners were really asking for? I mean just how well do you think this game would have done on the 360 or PS3 with the no marketing it had, and being on-rails? It's not right to insult Wii owners with these cheap, quick, and short games and then try and slap the threat "If you don't buy this we won't support the platform anymore".



I could fume about this subject for a while, but needless to say this is just a poor idea from EA, with almost no marketing, in a genre that people are not that interested in (and one they have many more options of on the platform for cheaper). If this is all EA is going to put out for the platform I don't really want them making more anyway.



Small and short side note, this is the same thing Capcom pulled with RE:UC and what did they do when people supported them and picked up their game? Well they made a sequel! I'm sure that's what tons of people want while the 360 and PS3 get the real RE games.

Adam Flutie
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There are too many unknowns of this 'test' they did. 'On Rails' should have been the first warning sign. What is the demand for that genre in the first place? Then putting it on the Wii where plenty of alternatives exist for this?



Second, it isn't even an established IP. It has one game, a movie, and some comic books, all created at the same time to try and force people to see it as an 'established IP'. Now two games. The shotgun approach to establishing these IP's is what I question. Are you trying to make it hard to establish this IP by scattering it everywhere? The only draw I see of the game as of right now is it contains all of the audio comics on the disc with it, so at least you try to draw a double bonus for those wanting to get into the series with this game... So what does this test? that people will follow the IP to the Wii? or that people would want to try to involve themselves in the IP via what looks like a shallow attempt to deliver what is on other systems?



I'm still hoping to see someone bring a complex game to the Wii that isn't obvious grab at trying to get someone to by anything on the platform with a 'M' on it.



@Brandon - good point. If it sells, does that mean there is a 'M' market out there? or does it mean make a sequel just like this game? probably the later, so most people will probably continue to not support it.

Eric Adams
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With an install base of nearly 26 million in the US, you would expect for this game (and Sega's efforts) to have a much better sell-thru. I have to think that EA did its play and focus testing with this game, probably several rounds. I really have to wonder about the Wii market and support for non-Nintendo titles. There comes a point that publishers need market validation (aka strong sales) to continue to make hardcore titles for the platform.



How many hardcore Wii failures can publishers tolerate before they revert back to safer design bets?



Finally, many of these Wii hardcore games were designed to work with the strengths and weaknesses of the platform (little luxury of ports).

Russell Carroll
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Not that I care for 'M' rated titles myself, but aren't RE4 and CoD the best two selling 'M' rated titles on the Wii? For whatever it's worth, neither of them is on-rails.



I think most developers are having trouble understanding the adult audience on the Wii. Nintendo definitely hit it with WiiFit + WiiSports, outside of that it seems few developers have nailed it, though TigerWoods this year, being the best-selling version of that game yet, certainly seems to be a step in the right direction. What kinds of games do people over 35 want to play? The PC market has hundreds of games aimed at women in that demographic, but I don't think men have been targeted especially well.

Chris Melby
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I bought this game, but only because I played Dead Space on the PC. Now to step back a bit, the only reason I played the ladder, is because of my experience with RE4: Wii. I also bought RE5 PC because of that game.



DS:E is an enjoyable game once it picks up, but it's not what I wanted and It's a genre I really do not like outside of arcades. The only reason I think I bought it -- out of hesitation -- is that I really want to see this IP continue, but on all platforms.



EA should have put the money into a proper port, which in this case would not have been a bad thing. I can't agree at all with their choice on making this a rail-shooter, even after completing it.



RE4:Wii sold quite well and to this date I really can not think of any other Wii game from a 3rd party developer that's remotely on its level. None of Capcom's fallow up games have been on par and in some cases they were downright insulting.



I'm getting really tired of these tests, as there's a clear market on the Wii for these so called M rated games, but the problem seems to be that it takes a higher budget to develop than publishers are willing to spend.



I can't help but think that the only reason this game was made, is because EA lost so much money and that they were hoping to tap into RE:UC's sales-- which without RE4:Wii, probably wouldn't have been that good.



I hope that this is a proof of concept showing that DS is possible on the Wii, which in my book should be a given. I can't say that I'd buy another DS rail-shooter for the Wii, or any platform for that matter. It completely misses the experience the first game offered, which of course borrows heavily from RE4.

Adam Piotuch
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I'd buy this game, if I wasn't completely broke right now.

Fiore Iantosca
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The fact that Wii software sales are so erratic shows the problem with the Wii and why developers are hesitant to spend money developing a proper game. They just don't know if it will sell!

Ken Masters
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I believed from the beginning that this game was destined to fail. I think it's silly to "test" the market with an on-rails spin-off of a lukewarm IP you don't even bother to market. At least Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles has brand name recognition (not to mention a million selling prequel) and will do much better numbers because of it.



EA treated the Wii as an after thought and Wii owners shunned them at retail in return. It sounds like karma to me. Things may pick up over the holidays but rail shooters are a dime a dozen on the Wii nowadays.

Jerome Russ
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I would agree that this was a stupid design decision to test the Wii with. The numbers for the original Dead Space were not stellar, why would a 'on-rails' follow up be a hit?



I would say that the original Dead Space is a great game (PC), but On-Rails is just not what I want, and if EA doesn't see that... they must not want my money.



A thing of note... I played it on a PC that was mid-range in 2003. The graphics, horrible... They made RE4 look amazing on the Wii! Why... oh why... can't PC makers scale back their graphics?

Brandon Sheffield
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I think it's a bit weird how as soon as a company makes a concerted effort to make a mature game on the Wii, all the people who say they want mature games on the Wii come out and dump on it, saying it's not good enough.



Everyone I know who's played this game likes it. It has gotten mostly very good reviews from critics. I think it says something that instead of "ah, that's too bad it didn't sell well" people come out and say "Screw you EA for making this game," which just discourages companies even further from trying more titles. When the very people who should be encouraging and cheering you on come out and say you shouldn't be doing something, you probably won't do it anymore.



(I will admit there have been to many on-rails shooters, but I think my comments stand for games like Madworld and The Conduit as well.)

Fábio Bernardon
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@brandon So why does all companies that want to "try the water" on the Wii come up with a on-rails shooter? Why not make a third-person shooter/adventure as it was originally intended to? Some people do enjoy these games, but I am afraid most don't. I personally do like them, but I will skip this game because there are other cheap/high quality options in the market (House of the Dead) and soon the new RE game will be released, which DS should not try to compete with.



Anyway, it would be good to see some company for once listen to what Mature audience in the Wii wants instead of taking it for granted. People complained when it was announced as a rails shooter, but they did not changed the design. I may get it sometime down the road, when it is worth what a rails shooter is worth in my opinion: $20.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Matthew Dart
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This game is a "test" to see how people from the 360 and PS3 install base spend their money. However, as I have all the consoles myself, but only speaking for myself, I only use my Wii for Nintendo titles or titles that integrate new ideas and concepts. I believe there is a certain type of game people are looking for on the Wii if they have the other consoles; they don't expect a shooter to match in quality in comparison. They want something different.



Furthermore, since they are looking at these "hardcore" gamers who have multiple consoles, they need to factor in what is available to them right now and what is coming up in the near future. Why would I go out and spend my limited amount of cash on "Dead Space: Extraction" when "Uncharted 2: Drake's Fortune" is coming out in two weeks? If I only have 60 dollars, which choice do they think I will go with?

Yannick Boucher
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The whole idea of having it on-rails is in line with the simplicity of the Wii, and __because it's cheaper to make an on-rail shooter, therefore cheaper to TEST THE MARKET with that__ what's so hard to understand about that? Furthermore, Sega has been satisfied with the sales of HOTD Returns, Ghost Squad, and HOTD Overkill, all on-rail shooters. That's the whole point: the Wii userbase wants an easy to pick up and play game, so that's what they're giving them, only M-rated.



@Fabio: somebody tried an original FPS, remember, a little game called The Conduit? How did that sell? About as bad as this one. So you have your case study right there, don't need to make another one, don't need to complain either. With the plethora of "tests" that have been made for M-rated games on Wii: Manhunt 2, MadWorld, HOTD Overkill, Dead Rising, RE4 Wii, Dead Space, etc, I personally consider that there is now something for everyone.



But which one of those sold best? RE4. What do you know, a port of a 4-year old game, with a strong brand­ and proven record. So what do you think makes Wii games sell? hint: it's strong brands. (for the record, "The Price is Right" sold more than MadWorld).



@Matthew: This has nothing to do with checking how 360 and PS3 owners will buy Wii games, that is simply a ludicrous idea. No publisher in their right mind comes out with a game assuming that their target audience are people who have more than one console, that's WAY too restrictive. And we already know that people who have 360s and PS3s don't buy much Wii except Nintendo's games. You don't need to put out a new game to have those figures.



I have to side with Brandon 100% on this one. 100%. Even though the writing on the wall is getting clearer and clearer.

Matt Marquez
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I wouldn't say developers should stop making "mature" (what the hell does that word mean anymore?) games for the system. If its a good game people will hear about it because it deserved it (considering this is the Wii, times may vary).

None of the M rated games on the system doesn't warrant much of the hype it came with and appears to me after playing them that they went for the "hardcore demographic" just for the sake of it. This wasn't a "hardcore" game to me at all. It's more like a summer blockbuster-esque game. Not interested.



Food for thought: Muramasa outsold Dead Space: Extraction AND Capcom's Spyborgs.

http://is.gd/4vLEp

What do you think happened there?

Yannick Boucher
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"None of the M rated games on the system doesn't warrant much of the hype it came with and appears to me after playing them that they went for the "hardcore demographic" just for the sake of it. This wasn't a "hardcore" game to me at all. It's more like a summer blockbuster-esque game. Not interested."



So your argument is that since you're not interested,that means others aren't as well?



As for the "food for thought": Muramasa was highly anticipated by a very small niche of players. Whatever sales it was supposed to make are probably already done, don't expect a longtail on this one. As for Spyborgs... erm, even I didn't know about that one; 900 copies?! what's up with that ? Whole lotta issues on that one.

Matthew Dart
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@Yannick: "The publisher has said it will partially interpret the game's reception, a followup to the original survival horror game Dead Space on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, as a reflection of whether gamers who own both a Wii and another game platform are willing to play more "mature" content on the Wii."



This is the quote that I was going off of. It seems to state that that was what they were intending. Of course you are right, however, publishers would be shooting themselves in the foot if they went that route.

Yannick Boucher
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yeah, "partially" being the keyword here.

Leon T
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The Conduit sold much better than this game. So did Medal Of Honor 2, Red Steel, COD 3 and COD 5. Wii users don't just want simple games. They want all types of games. Strong brands sell best on Wii ,but so do well marketed games and Dead Space: Extraction is neither.



I think any game that is labled as a test should fail. I feel bad for the people who worked hard on the title , but insulting your customers by testing them 3 years into the generation is just stupid.

Yannick Boucher
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Leonm Dead Space just came out. Some of your games are 3 years old. Are you comparing the sales on the same time-frame?



And I don't get your logic that testing a new market = insulting your customers?! Mind expanding on that? The game received very good reviews from both critics and users. Where's the insult? Define "test", in fact. Last I checked, Brain Age was a "test" and it sold 30M copies. The Conduit was a "test" and you just said it sold better than this game.

Mike Siciliano
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"somebody tried an original FPS, remember, a little game called The Conduit? How did that sell? About as bad as this one."



260,000 units so far. About 79,000 in the first week in the U.S. Clearly, the numbers are not at all comparable.



"But which one of those sold best? RE4. What do you know, a port of a 4-year old game, with a strong brand­ and proven record. So what do you think makes Wii games sell? hint: it's strong brands. (for the record, "The Price is Right" sold more than MadWorld)."



This is a little too simplistic to possibly be a universal truth. Red Steel sold over a million units as well. No brand recognition there. I think Wii owners want to see good implementation of the Wii remote. I'm sure Wii owners do want pick up and play games (hint: it's really just arcade style game play), but not every game that tries to superficially copy this formula will be successful.



I for one feel like I have too many choices right now for a light gun game. I picked up the Wii Zapper early this year, but now I don't know what other game to get. Between House of the Dead, Dead Space Extraction and multiple Resident Evil titles, which one do I get? My funds are limited, and I only need one.

Leon T
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@Yannick



None of those games started as slow as Dead Space. As far as testing goes the Wii market is not new. You do not test a userbase 3 years into a generation. Light gun games has already sold well. Shooters have already sold well. What does Dead Space test?



It is insulting to say that Wii owners must buy their game because other games in the same genre don't count. This testing excuse is stupid and insulting because there is nothing to test at this point. There was never anything to test. A quality well advertised game will sell on the console. It has been true from the start and there have been few from the start.



The Conduit was not a test. At least I never heard of High Voltage or Sega calling it that. Brain Age was as much a test to the DS as Wii Fit was to Wii. Name a game that came before either one that is similar on those consoles.

Yannick Boucher
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@Leon



Then I think the problem is just in your definition of the word "test". To me, "test" = "we launch a product and see if it's successful". In other words: business as usual. It's a test for EA because it was their first M-rated game on the console. That's it.



"A quality well advertised game will sell on the console. It has been true from the start and there have been few from the start." -- unfortunately, that's much easier said than done. Especially for the Wii. Like Eric Adams pointed above, it's not normal that you have to spend more advertising dollars to end up selling less units (than 360/PS3) to a larger customer base. Don't you think so? That's enough to turn off a lot of publishers.

Matt Marquez
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@Yannick Boucher: That wasn't an argument, that was my point. A point that EA could do good by understanding if they're going to bother figuring out why they partly got the sales they got instead coming out saying "man, I guess the hardcore gamers aren't worth their salt" or another inane statement. They can calculate, but reading will do good, too. Small companies like Atlus, Natsume and NISA do customer feedback all the time on their games. Wouldn't it help EA with this game the same way?



And to add to the Ignition's Muramasa - I don't expect sales to stretch that much farther, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was -slow- drop. Their niche audience can steadily expand, as opposed to EA's support with DS: E.

Leon T
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@ Yannick



Actually the Godfather Blackhand Edition was thier first M rated game on the Wii. So again this game does not test anything. If it as you say why didn't they say Dead Space was a test for the 360. It was a new IP and they wanted to see if it was successful yet 360 users were not told buy this or else. Calling a game a test is not business as usual.



"unfortunately, that's much easier said than done. Especially for the Wii. " Why is it hard to make a quality game for the Wii and advertise for it? I didn't even say high quality. It is easy to see that the best advertised games for the Wii are usually the best selling games for the Wii. Even Nintendo has to market their games well to get them to sell. EA has done it before so it is not like they don't know how.

Yannick Boucher
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@Leon Well, now about the "test" thing you're just arguing about semantics, so that's pointless.



Yes, of course everybody needs to advertise properly, we all know that. My point is the ROI on that advertisement is lower on Wii than other platforms. And since marketing is starting to become more expensive than production itself in some cases, that doesn't sweeten the deal in any way. And yes, indeed, EA knows how. So why is it not working, then? Is it really EA's fault? Marketing expenses have gone down for _everyone_ since the recession. So then you look at what data you have. You decide whether it's worth expending a certain amount of a fixed marketing cost pool to Dead Space Extraction, considering the return you estimate to get, or do you expend that amount on a project that will probably yield a better ROI? (let's say, randomly, Need for Speed).



So then you have your answer: it seems the planned returns on DS:E were not worth the extra marketing expenses that the Wii platform demands for M-rated games, and those resources were allocated somewhere else. That's how I see it, at least.



And that brings us back to Brandon's point, too: after a while, if your returns on quality games on Wii, with the same amount of marketing dollars, are LOWER than on other platforms... well, there isn't much of an incentive to keep going, is there? Keeping in mind of course that marketing budgets don't grow out of trees, and that you have to prioritize different projects and platforms.



It's the same base logic that Kotick used when he threatened Sony to pull out of PS3 support (although his motives were quite different...).

Leon T
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Yannick you were arguing semantics and I pointed out that even your meaning of test is wrong since it is not their first M rated game on the console.



I would love to see your data on how EA has a lower ROI on the Wii than on other systems. That seems rather odd given that most of their effort was going towards the HD systems and they were losing money due to their IPs not performing to well.

zero lin
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WoW Ratings lets you rate anything in Azeroth



I had an idea like this one -- a site that would allow you to rate anything at all (from a new movie to the casserole your aunt makes), and then let other people share their own opinions about whatever you rated. My idea never got off the ground (standard operating procedure for the idea mill I call my mind), but reader Antoine apparently had the same idea, and built it specifically for the WoW universe. WoW Ratings is kind of a silly site with some interesting outcomes: basically it's a database of everything in the game, from bosses to zones to game features or what have you, and you can come along and rate whatever you want on a scale of 1 to 5. The ratings don't actually mean anything (though Antoine has them listed as qualities from Uncommon up to Legendary), so it's really just a broad temperature-taking of the World (of Warcraft) at large.

The most interesting screen is probably the "Best and Worst" screen (which you can reach by clicking on the toolbar at the top of the homepage -- note to Antoine: permalinks are your friend, scale back on the javascript), where, as of this writing, Hakkar the Soulflayer is sitting on top of the heap, and the Voice Chat patch and Darnassus are sitting in the bottom 10. No Fandral Staghelm yet, strangely, but I'm sure things will get shaken up after all you readers head over there (and if the site's a little shaky under the flood of our link, give it time to get back on its feet). Sure, it's a little silly, and it's not so much a "resource" as it is just a free-for-all of player opinions, but it is interesting to see kind of a meta-overview of what players do and don't like. Useless features for the loss, old school raid bosses for the win.

This passage is excerpted from www.wowgoldhotel.com

Uyiosa Iyamu
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First I think the whole Wii can't support hardcore game argument is flawed especially three or four years into the system's life span.



Several violent, Teen and Mature games have appeared on the system and done fairly well. Compared to major blockbusters like Call of Duty or Devil May Cry on the 360 or PS3, they haven't done well but the fact is, the Wii versions often get shoddy ports or versions that are not as good as the other platforms. Even when you look at Wii exclusives like The Conduit or MadWorld (both of which have probably sold 250,000 to nearly 300,000 units by now) sales, you have to compare them to similarly advertised new IPs sales. Relative in that manner, both MadWorld and The Conduit did fine, better then the recent Chronicles of Riddick game, better then Capcom's Bionic Commando and even the heavily advertised Spider-man: Web of Shadows, especially considering the drop in expenses in producing a Wii game compared to other consoles.



Looking at the sales of majorly advertised Wii games, like Star Wars: Force Unleashed or Call of Duty: World at War, they did very good, both selling over a million units. Do they reach the entirety of the Wii's installed base? No, but outside of packed in games like Wii Sports that is a rarity anyway. It comes down to a question of whether publishers and developers are willing to put and effort into both advertising and creating Wii games for the platform's strengths, which for the most part is rarely the case.

Yannick Boucher
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@Leon: it's not just EA that has a lower ROI on their marketing expenses on Wii, it's pretty much everyone but Nintendo. You only need to be slightly close to marketing at a major publisher to know that. There's countless amounts of data on that from just about everyone.



@Uyiosa: so, you are never truly adressing the question :



"It comes down to a question of whether publishers and developers are willing to put and effort into both advertising and creating Wii games for the platform's strengths, which for the most part is rarely the case."



So, WHY is that. Is what we are all asking. Why is it that they are not doing that? With such a big installed base, low development costs, and 3-4 years of experience in... why is it still like that? Because they don't feel like it? Because they're lazy, they still don't "understand" (whatever there is to understand)? Gonna have to find better than that...



If you guys are rejecting my arguments, give me counter-arguments. Don't just ask the same question back!

Uyiosa Iyamu
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@Yannick



"So, WHY is that. Is what we are all asking. Why is it that they are not doing that? With such a big installed base, low development costs, and 3-4 years of experience in... why is it still like that? Because they don't feel like it? Because they're lazy, they still don't "understand" (whatever there is to understand)? Gonna have to find better than that..."



A little bit of all you mentioned actually.



Most publishers are not gamblers, they release games that are similar to a consoles major hits in the hopes of sales based off the established audience. At the time of the Wii's 2006 release, no publisher knew what to do with it. Its only major original and non ported 3rd party software for a good couple of months were a Mario Party inspired Rayman mini game collection and a simple FPS with a sword gimmick, both of which sold well. Which is why there are a bunch of rail shooters and mini game collections on the system. Publishers are guessing at the audience and since it is a Nintendo system, they are even more scared to take risks because due to Nintendo's blockbuster stable of IPs often being family friendly, they assume that is what the typical Wii owner wants. Thus reduced budgets for their more gritty affairs on the system, especially when Nintendo themselves have mainly released only a handful of non Mario or casual aimed games this generation compared to their previous ones.



Developers weren't impressed with the Wii, because truthfully IR controls and the Wii's processor were a scale back from traditional controls and the programmable power for this current generation's other consoles or those coming over from the PC market. By the time the Wii was shown not to be a fad or a machine that would eventually lose out to the 360 or PS3 in hardware sales, developers were already firmly entrenched with the superior hardware. It is the exact reason why you see so many PS2/PSP/Wii games because they are just porting them over to the Wii and adding motion controls. Had Nintendo originally released the Wii with MotionPlus capability built into the control, this might not be the case but it didn't and at this point, most developers are not in a rush to adopt such or waiting on Natal or Sony's motion wand EyeToy.



Also I was never really rejecting your arguments, most of my previous post actually talked about how most of the Mature games people rate the success of the Wii's audience are non-established IPs that compared to other little recognized properties on other systems do fairly well and how advertised heavy hitters also do well when released side by side with their more advanced counterparts.

Aaron Knafla
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I think we're all missing the point.



The gaming press/hardcores showed disappointment from the moment this one was announced.



Yet, EA pushed forward--insisting this title would satisfy the people that were unhappy (from the very start).



That seems stubborn to me.



I have no problem with stubbornly making software for personal satisfaction and reward... But, EA ignores their customers (target audience) at their own peril. It seems foolish to expect blockbuster sales when your target audience has been telling you "no" from the beginning. That's just being stubborn.



If the expectations were huge sales, this one shouldn't have been made in the first place. The voices of many Wii gamers are difficult to find; the market is tricky to size up--that's true. But, the voice of the hardcore gamers is easy to find. EA could have listened... Instead they gambled that they could change people's minds.



And, that's the word that applies best: 'gamble'. Not 'test'. Just 'gamble'.



You win some, you lose some.


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