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Three Services, Three Stores: Analyzing XBLA, PSN and Wii Shop Channel
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Three Services, Three Stores: Analyzing XBLA, PSN and Wii Shop Channel


June 17, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next
 

Wii Virtually Unstoppable

Through the first year of the Wii's lifetime, Nintendo updated its online service with virtual console games, emulated versions of software for older systems.

To date American Wii owners can purchase software originally published for the following consoles:

Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Super Nintendo (SNES), Nintendo 64 (N64), Sega Master System (SMS), Sega Genesis, NEC TurboGrafx-16 (TG16), and SNK NeoGeo.

Nintendo's consistency in terms of frequency in releasing titles is manifest in the following graph, showing the number and types of releases since November 2006.

Each platform is color-coded, with the new color introduced in May 2008 corresponding to the launch of WiiWare, the sister service to Virtual Console.

December 2007 marks the last month that Nintendo offered ten or more games for the virtual console in any given month. Starting with January 2008, Nintendo has offered 9 or fewer games each month. To my knowledge, Nintendo has made no announcement of a change in its virtual console policy, but the chart above reveals that something is different.

With well over 200 games on the service already, perhaps Nintendo and its partners have already released the majority of older properties they intend to offer. Perhaps Nintendo is withholding software releases, either to extend its schedule or pad the schedule during the second half of the year.

Regardless, the new WiiWare service shows potential to revitalize Nintendo's online catalog. Nintendo says that developers, smaller ones in particular, can deliver new software directly to Wii owners through this online distribution system. With ten releases just in its first month, and a reported 100 more games on the way, Nintendo may have moderated its virtual console releases this year just to make room for new software on the WiiWare service.

A bi-annual view of digitally distributed software releases on the Wii shows that even WiiWare cannot make up for the slowdown in the service this year.

The first and second halves of 2007 each saw around 80 games released through the Wii virtual console. Wii owners will have access to at most 60 new games in the first half of 2008, even with the addition of the WiiWare titles. Just as we have seen for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, there appears to be a slowing of new software releases during the first half of 2008.


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