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Capcom Reveals Weak  Zack & Wiki  Sales, Talks 'Tough' Wii Market
Capcom Reveals Weak Zack & Wiki Sales, Talks 'Tough' Wii Market
January 8, 2010 | By Staff

January 8, 2010 | By Staff
More: Console/PC

Despite high ratings and its status as a media darling, Capcom's Zack & Wiki: Quest For Barbaros' Treasure sold only 126,000 units in 26 months -- "abysmally," according to senior director of communications Chris Kramer.

"If you're not Nintendo, it does seem harder to make money on the Wii today compared to the PS3 and the Xbox 360," Kramer says. "It's a very tough market to crack and is ever-shifting."

Like many publishers, Capcom's stock rose in 2007 based on its investment in software development for the explosive Wii. But a new Gamasutra feature illustrates how numerous third parties are still challenged to find success on Nintendo's platform.

Kramer recalls that at the time of the Wii's North American launch in November, 2006, simple casual games and party titles did so well that they soon saturated the market. "Now, I don't even know what the market is," he says.

"Third-party publishers are having a hard time determining who the Wii audience is," Kramer adds. "You can no longer say it is solely casual gamers or that only E-rated games own the space."

Publishers like Electronic Arts, with Dead Space Extraction, or Sega, with Madworld and House of the Dead: Overkill have made bold moves into core territory on the Wii and have met with mixed results.

Sega's Constantine Hatzopoulos recently said the company was so "stunned" by Dead Space Extraction's sales figures that it will "probably not" try further M-rated content on Wii. Capcom itself had to stress its stance as a multiplatform publisher after Capcom France's Antoine Seux criticized Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles' weak 16,000-unit performance on Wii.

Says Kramer, "For any sort of solid statement you want to make about the platform or the audience, there are enough opposite proofs to show that it is extremely scattered and chaotic."

In the full Gamasutra feature, focused on the continuing challenges for third parties on the Wii platform, we talk to publishers and analysts to examine several angles of the complex picture.

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Ian Jones
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This is such a conundrum...I loved Z&W and promoted it to all my friends, who really enjoyed it- yet never plunked down the cash for the BUDGET title.

Its so disappointing to see only 126k over the last two years, so I understand Capcom's POV...but on the other hand, I hate the argument that studios are tired of making "mature" games that dont sell on the wii when they have other games that do better on PS3/360...well, stop making ON RAILS gimped versions. You cant compare RE Chronicles sales to RE5, or Dead Space Extraction to the "real" Deadspace on 360 (even though I was really surprised by the DSE game's quality).

Its like saying you made a sexy convertible that sells extremely well, and then making a station wagon version of the same car and being disappointed because people didnt like it as much.

I think HOD:OK, DSE, and Madworld were great games..but by the time they came out Wii owners had such a bad taste in their mouth for dumbed-down 3rd party games that hardly anyone was willing to give them another chance.

Gary Beason
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Where was the advertising for Zack & Wiki? It was almost non-existent.

Rodney Brett
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I agree with Ian's comment. If you can make RE4 on the Wii, than you can make a REAL version of Deadspace on the Wii. When they announced Dead Space Extraction was going to be a "rail" shooter, it turned off so many people. Even if you have to downrez the graphics, you don't have to downplay the actual gameplay mechanics. Also, with oldschool gameart(handpainted textures, lighting, no normal maps), you can still get an aesthetically high quality look to characters and environments. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories looks amazing! There are still amazing hardcore games on the PS2, there is no reason why there can't be on the Wii.

Joseph Cook
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Not only was the advertising for Zack & Wiki nonexistent, but Capcom completely screwed up who they were trying to appeal to in the first place.

Z&W had some amazing puzzles, but even more puzzles that were completely arbitrary, and totally impossible without ridiculous levels of trial and error. It was an extremely hardcore game through and through, and only a dedicated, long-time gamer could ever hope to complete the game.

Yet the box art, the tone inside the game, etc. was completely ass-backwards. It was built to appeal to a demographic that was entirely unable to actually enjoy the game.

Nintendo wins time and time again because it knows how to strike a middle-ground. Mario characters are ridiculously cute and cuddly, yet anyone will play Mario games without reservation. Whether it's because of decades of history that Capcom doesn't have as mascot for, or something in the art style that simply appeals to everyone, Capcom completely missed the mark in every single way.

Chris Sykora
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I haven't even heard of this game. It sounds like a really awesome game. Maybe it's time to dust off the Wii.

Dr. Squirrel
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surprising, but this number is for North America only, right?

personally this is my favorite Wii title and i really appreciated the work Capcom had been packed in to this one, with all the lovely worked out details.

hehe, i also tried to sell this to all my friends and was already surprised back then that many couldn't be attracted for some reason.

at first it is a new IP and also the game itself is rather difficult to properly promote.

and as i learned in my social environment, this title is destined to work only for a smaller group :)


but i expected more, if i remember well, IGN had running quite a campaign for it.

while i did not follow it closely, i must admit that i have not noticed much of advertising in EUR.

does this kill now any dreams for a follow up? : |

Luis Guimaraes
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Zack & Wiki, Muramasa, RE:UC/DC, DS:E, SH:SM, NSMB:Wii... hmm, I'm almost about to buy a Wii... Almost...

Jonathan Hall
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I purchased this game for my nephew and he loved it. Unfortunately I had to find out about on Metacritic and IGN.

I say unfortunately because I would say roughly 95% of all Wii owners do not read Metacritic, IGN, nor any of the other resources for gamers. These outlets are simply not a factor.

In addition, developers would be wise to think of the Wii as the family equivalent of a board game or a pack of cards. They are not that fun played alone. Games without multiplayer are not going to have a chance.

Take a look at the top-selling 50 games, and apart from the exercise titles, nearly all of them can be played with a group.

There's no doubt Nintendo has the big bucks for advertising and a solid franchise with Mario, Zelda, and Metroid. But if game developers want to unlock the secret code for the Wii, they would be wise to simply think of one word and one word only - multiplayer.

Wii is pronounced We for a reason.

Bob Mackey
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I have to agree with Joe C on this one; Zack and Wiki is a BRUTAL game, even for adventure veterans. There's some stuff in there that'd be right at home in a Sierra game from 25 years ago.

Ted Brown
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There was some talk last year about Nintendo making the "Seal of Quality" really reflect quality craftsmanship, in order to crack down on the shovelware that gets pumped into the system. These titles can sour potential new gamers on the entire experience, which hurts Nintendo, 3rd parties, and ultimately the industry as a whole. But that's probably a pipe-dream at this point.

EDIT: Er, I was not maligning Zack & Wiki here, my family loves the title. =)

Russell Carroll
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I also found the game brutal, so I won't sing its praises like I do many Wii games. However, on the marketing front, I do believe Capcom should have made it a franchise. If part 3 had come out this last year, I'm sure you'd see more people who knew the game existed. Seems like a missed opportunity.

Instead we got Spyborgs, which is a very generic and horribly un-satisfying beat-em up. I have no idea who it was targeted to (teenage boys maybe?).

Joe Cooper
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I've never, ever heard of this game. I can't believe its been out for 26 months.

There is a distinctive pattern of everything either being the inferior "Wii version", like a rail shooter, or serious, tangible quality issues, or in this case, flat out botched marketing & execution.

I think you can sum up all that with "not taking it seriously", and the results of not taking it seriously are just recycled into rationale for not taking it seriously.

Eric Feliu
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What excatly did Capcom do to promote Zack and Wiki? Nothing as far as I can tell. Nintendo markets all of it's games and most of their library is established IP's everyone knows. Capcom released a new IP with next to no marketing and they are surprised by the poor sales? As others have said it also does not help that the game has a huge identity crisis being overly cute and at the same time incredibly challenging for hardcore gamers. Maybe if Capcom released some of their known franchises on the Wii sales would be a lot better?

I get tired of the argument by certain publishers that only Nintendo can make money on the Wii. Perhaps that's because Nintendo knows how to market and design products for targeted audiences as well as the masses? I think Capcom needs to hire new marketing and product development departments for the Wii market.

Diego Leao
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@Gary The same cannot be said about Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles...

I gave up understanding the Wii (or what would "sell" on it) a long time ago... And what gives me the creeps about our industry is that all game journalists also seems to be completely clueless.

Diego Leao
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@Homer Are you saying that kids don't like to shoot zombies? XD

Just kidding, it is interesting that you talked about kids and adults:

- Kids, not the madden-need-for-speed kid, but the very-young-still-playing-cops-vs-bandits-kids

- Adults, not the porn-and-blood-enabled-fps-playing-25-30-years adult, but the I'm-a-responsible-boring-dad kind of adult.

We have absolutelly no clue about what this guys want to play, we never did!

I mean, do you know what games your own father would play if you gave him the Wii remote?

My father would try to use it to change the channel.

steve roger
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The Wii is a retro-game console with a tacked on motion control. This means that it is nearly impossible to make games for it that aren't completely recognizable as classics.

This means that Nintendo fans only bought the Wii to keep on playing their revitalized Nintendo titles. Otherwise they ignore the 3rd party games being rolled out.

Then you have the people that jumped on the motion control band wagon and they buy those tacky fitness titles. Just like the infomercial products are successful. But there is no crossover with those people to 3rd party titles. Similar to the fact that people that buy abdomen crunching devices don't actually invest in real exercise equipment.

Gamers aren't gaming on the Wii except for Nintendo titles. Otherwise they turn to the better console.

So what is the Wii. It is a Gamecube with tacked on motion controls. Nothing really did well on the Cube either did it--other than Nintendo's titles.

Ronaldo Fernandes
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The main problem with Zack & Wiki was marketing. Capcom sent the wrong message with the graphic design of the cover, the characters and their voices. All those say it is a game for kids. However, as many other pointed out, the difficulty level is brutal and I seriously doubt many kids played it for too long. As such, many parents probably returned the game and thus there wasn't any significant word of mouth publicity. Adding the little marketing support it isn't hard to figure out why it flopped.

Michael Murphy
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@ Jonathan Hall -I would agree with just about everything you just stated.

I find fault at our inability to identify the wiis' market. Developers still shovel out exercise games and repackage exsisting tradional game values to the wii, which when in competition to other already exisiting familar faces loses out every time. Taking a quick look at the top fifty the top selling traditonal game (hard core/ non-party etc) which isn't a long running francise or movie game is.... none.

The closest to suit the example of new IP not spawned from exisiting movies or game series would be Red Steel chillin' out at spot 59. The traditional concept of games cannot concurrent comfortably exisit on the wii. A new approach needs to be taken.

The leigon of "traditonal" gamers since the PS2 era who I would assume follow existing established series for fandom or nostalgias sake or review scores. Which reflects quite well with the PS3 top 50.

gstarr W
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Dear Capcom, please do not make anymore "hard core" games with a kiddy look. Games with a kiddy look MUST be accessible. The kiddy look already communicates to me (one of the 'stupid' masses you are attempting to entertain) that the game will be easy for me and my kids to start playing.

Dear video game industry, this is what Wii owners want. The same thing we get in a summer blockbuster movie. It should be fun and entertaining from the instant it starts. It should have a theme that can be easily understood from a 30 second commercial. These 30 second commercials should actually be made (here's looking at you Capcom). It should be rated G/PG/PG13. Why? Because if I want the super-violent zombie killer, I'll buy it for my PS3/360. When movie studios want a truly massive summer hit, they shun the R rating. I don't read Gamasutra, Game Informer, or anything else gaming related. I do watch football, American Idol, and the Olympics. I listen to Radio. WHOA!! STOP!! advertise my game on RADIO?! How will the buyer see my graphics? I OWN A WII. I OBVIOUSLY DO NOT BUY GAMES BASED ON GRAPHICS!!!! (pardon the tantrum,please) I just need to know your game is out there, that it's fun, and get what it's about quite quickly. I'll do the research and buy your game if I know it exists and it sounds like fun. I'm quite fluent in Check the sales results, you'll see.

Nintendo sells millions of games on word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth does not show the potential buyer any graphics. Word of mouth says "Get game "x"!! It's so much fun!! We played it for hours!!"

And guess what, I'll buy it.

My latest game for Wii that I bought, I had never heard of. And I go to gaming sites!!! It took one recommendation and one play session at a family gathering. That night Ubisoft sold 5 copies of JUST DANCE to members of my family and friends. Ubisoft has a winner on their hands. They get it. People in the industry laughed when Sega said they would sell 4 million copies of Mario & Sonic at the Olympics. Who's laughing at that title's sales now?