Analysis: Why the Wii will be getting Japanese exclusives, but not Western.


The following was originally posted on the neogaf forums on 06-29-08. Enjoy!

It's been more than 3 months
since I made the assertion that the Wii, despite being the worldwide leader in this-gen hardware sales, would never be getting major Western exclusives, but should be getting major Japanese exclusives. I suggested that the Wii sales in Japan are so far and above anything else (we're talking PS2 levels) that we should see those soon. I also said that the American lead by the 360 (in combination with the PS3), combined with developer and audience taste (they hate the Wii), means that the Wii will never see the games that once made it to the PS2 (ie, GTA).

As we approach E3, how does the theory hold up? Do sales still reflect the same trends? Will something suddenly change despite obvious Developer/Publisher decisions? I attempt to answer these questions here:

Japanese Hardware Sales
Whoa. MGS4 anybody? Looks like it made a nice two week impact but every other indicator of continued sales health puts the PS3 back to 8k-10k per week sales in the next few weeks. So basically nothing has changed: The Wii is the PS2, the PS3 is the GC, and the 360 is irrelevant. These charts show why my original assertion still carries weight, if not more so today than it did 3 months ago:

[ ] What you see above is what big time games might have done for the PS3 if they had shorter development cycles and had released more quickly out of the gate. If the big games release closer together, does the PS3 start building momentum rather than seeing many of those units sold back to used hardware dealers? No, probably not. But it certainly couldn't have hurt.

Take a moment to look back at the OLD ANALYSIS. You'll notice that in 3 months:
[ ] The Wii sold 700k units.
[ ] The PS3 sold 230k units.

Why the Wii should be getting Japanese Exclusives ANY DAY NOW!
If you actually did look at the OP, or can do basic math, you'll see that the Wii gained another 500k unit foothold over the PS3. If you don't like math, that's projected out to 2 million per year on top of the already 4 million lead that it starts with:

US Hardware Sales
Now here's the hard part. Last time, I said that Western devs would never make huge exclusives for the Wii and I had a convincing argument why: the 360 and the PS3, combined with audience taste, had no reason to invest money into the Wii when they might lose sales from the reduced hardware capability and the potential lack of audience interest. Now? Let's look:

*Please note: NPD exact totals removed because of privacy rules.

Refer back to the OLD ANALYSIS, again. What do you see?
[ ] The 360 sold 700k units in 3 months.
[ ] The PS3 sold 600k units in 3 months.
[ ] The Wii sold 2.2 million units in 3 months.

Why the Wii will not be getting US exclusi...wait. What?

This kinda changes things doesn't it? 360 won't be able to claim the highest sales in the US in about a week from now. Combined, the 360 and PS3 next-gen juggernaut is losing their momentum against the Wii, and GTAIV was the hardware dud 'heard round the world.

Still, I stand by my original assertion: major western exclusives WILL NOT be coming to the Wii. Why? Even if GTAIV didn't move hardware as much as expected for either console, it sold more copies than the Bible. HUGE. The Wii's worldwide sales are irrelevant:

1. Western devs don't care about Japan, at least in relation to their major exclusives.

2. Western devs are focusing on the American hardcore audience, and will continue to develop major exclusives for the PS3/360/PC user.

3. Western devs believe that they can sell more copies of bigname hardcore games as multiplatform next-gen titles than they could if they developed a visually less-appealing version for the Wii.

I believe we'll be hearing about a pretty shocking megaton Japanese exclusive announcement in the short term (E3), and I doubt we'll ever hear Western devs ever even bother.

Major assumptions
Assumptions do not necessarily make any of the above true or any of the below real.

[ ] That Japanese Devs value the Japanese public's buying habits over the Western public's buying habits. (and that they value money).

[ ] That *exclusive* in this context means hardcore big-name, big-budget games that are targeted toward a hardcore audience. In that assumption, we are automatically excluding every title that includes wii-exclusive content but is not itself exclusive, or other mass-market titles that don't apply specifically to the interest of this forum (Brain Age, EA Cheerleading, Ubisoft mini-game collections, etc)

[ ] That Western devs really do believe that the PS3 and 360 are the same exact audience and that developing games for them as one (or porting from one to the other) does not incur a significant enough cost to impact their development.

[ ] NPD exact numbers have been removed to protect various parties.

Donny112, JoshuaJSlone, various members of Sales-Age.

WW Chart: US - NPD, Canada - NPD, ,Japan - Media Create , Europe + Other - ELSPA, GfK, and other trackers / press releases and estimation where needed.


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