Expect Pikmin 3 to be Awesome, But Don’t Expect it to Drive Wii U Sales

For most Wii U fans, it seems like Pikmin 3 is the big game they’re looking forward to within the foreseeable future. And it should be – Nintendo’s take on the real-time strategy genre is a pretty suitable fit for their audience, who crave a bit more than just the same old stuff. It’s a great franchise all-around, really: simple, easy-to-understand, and strongly focused game mechanics, sporting a world rich with things to investigate and a wide variety of monsters to harvest and oozing with Nintendo-style charm.

I’m sure the game will be excellent, and a great addition to Wii U owners’ libraries. But let’s get one thing straight: Pikmin will not sell Wii U systems.

How do I know Pikmin won’t sell Wii U? Because Pikmin didn’t sell GameCube, when it was a launch window title. No, that title went exclusively to Super Smash Bros. Melee, the sole driving force for the platform within its first year or so on sale. Even after it was discontinued, one out of every three GameCube owners had a copy of Melee. That’s easily in the top 10 for best Nintendo attach rates in history, in good company alongside Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, Wii Sports, Mario Kart Wii, and Wii Sports Resort.

pikmin-1What about Pikmin? Only one in 21 GameCube owners picked it up. Not particularly impressive. The game did go on to garner over a million sales, but it’s hardly console-driving material. If anything, it gained acceptance as one of the standout games on GameCube… among Melee fans who already owned the system.

From what I can tell, it seems that Pikmin 3 is poised to repeat this performance. Nintendo’s put a bit more distance between Pikmin and the Wii U launch, perhaps to better gauge the brand’s system selling potential – perhaps its release proximity to Melee made the GameCube launch situation a fluke? – but it looks and sounds like Pikmin 3 will be “a major release for current Wii U owners” instead of “a major release to create new Wii U owners.”

If there’s anything we learned last-gen, it’s that even on Wii, when Nintendo releases software that takes on GameCube-like values, they get GameCube-like results. As an example, Twilight Princess did very well as a return to a “cooler” Ocarina of Time-style form, but when Nintendo went back to a “unique art style” and new setting with Skyward Sword, sales dipped right back to The Wind Waker levels (which admittedly aren’t that low, just low relatively speaking). So far, Pikmin 3 looks like another “GameCube-like” game.

pikmin-3-crab-hqI don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I think Wii U needs games like that – games that will add some diversity to people’s collections once they already own the platform. But there seems to be this idea going around that Pikmin 3 will bring Wii U out of its hardware sales slump, and I just can’t agree with that. It might see a quick burst, but not the long-tail “evergreen” sales growth Nintendo is really looking for.

It’s still going to be one heck of a game, though. Why else would I write up such a beaming preview?

  • jcl

    with this, 101, and windwaker this year… ill probably have a wii u at somepoint this year. honestly none of those games are selling me a wii u on their own, but all three are enough to sell the system to me this year.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jugglaj91 Joe Onley Jr

      All it takes is knowing Zelda will make an appearance for me to buy a console. Got my 3DS and Wii U day one on that premise alone. But I say Pikmin and 101 are not system sellers alone. Its just a bonus to go and buy the system for the game you really want and also pick up a game or two you were eyeing previously.

  • http://www.facebook.com/FeeFGFM Felipe Flores

    I fail to see your point, did you forget about Pikmin 2? What about Pikmin in SSBB? I got a myself a Wii U with Pikmin 3 in mind and I know others did too, I also know that people are waiting for such title to release. Sorry, but to gauge Pikmin 3′s future performance solely on the initial sales of the first installment seems illogical. Pikmin has long become something more than just an unknown gem in a “failed” system’s launch titles.

    • http://www.zeldainformer.com Nathanial Rumphol-Janc

      Or, you can just say this – Pikmin is a game that exists in a niche part of the gaming market and thus doesn’t even have a gigantic crowd to sell to. It’s really that simple. It’s not a very popular game. If it was, we wouldn;’t have waited so long for the third installment. Fact is, it’s just a niche game, and niche games don’t dreastically boost console sales.

      • http://www.facebook.com/FeeFGFM Felipe Flores

        Or you can just say this – Nintendo realized the growing interest for Pikmin by their audience and decided to release a game that, from what I am seeing, is going to blow away the first two titles. An this was not just an at the moment thing; Nintendo has certainly been working on expanding the Pikmin franchise.

    • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

      Pikmin 2 doesn’t exactly help illustrate the notion that Pikmin is a system seller. Like, at all.

      • http://www.facebook.com/FeeFGFM Felipe Flores

        Comparing the system selling ability of the first game game of the franchise to the system selling ability of a sequel that has been highly anticipated by fans for years does not exactly help illustrate the notion that your article brings common sense to the table. Like, at all.

        • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

          I very much doubt the sequel is “highly anticipated” from people who have never had a chance to play the first two. There’s a ceiling for the size of the fanbase, and it’s the number of people who bought the game.

          • http://www.facebook.com/FeeFGFM Felipe Flores

            A game can be highly anticipated if it seem to be a must-buy. The Wii U titles available right now do not take full advantage of the Wii U hardware or are ports. Pikmin 3 seem to be one of the first to break the Wii U away from this, not only that, but it is a game of a known and iconic Nintendo franchise. From what we have been able to see, Pikmin 3 will have full use of the Wii Pad and Wii U hardware.

          • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

            I’ve never played any Pikmin games, and I’m pretty darn excited for this one, so count me out from the group mentioned in your first sentence.

      • http://www.facebook.com/FeeFGFM Felipe Flores

        Do you mean ports or remakes? You can’t compare a remake like Starfox64 3D to a port like Pikmin with motion controls.

        • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

          I specifically mean Metroid Prime. A port with motion controls.

          • http://www.facebook.com/FeeFGFM Felipe Flores

            You mean the Bundled Metroid Trilogy that included two of the best games available for their system? Well, then I have no idea how that could have done any better… (sarcasm)

            • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

              Metroid Trilogy also cost 3x as much as either Pikmin NPC. And the fact that it had such a better reputation doesn’t exactly refute my point – it reinforces it.

              • http://www.facebook.com/FeeFGFM Felipe Flores

                Metroid Trilogy was also a limited collector’s edition.

  • K2L

    I’m not very keen at acquiring games destined to be a failure. So I will likely pass on Pikmin 3 if this is true.

    • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

      I don’t think you should pass on it. I just don’t think you should expect it to be a Wii U savior.

      Most likely it’ll be a solid game and a million seller, which ISN’T BAD, it’s just not going to turn Wii U around from its current slump.

      • K2L

        But if it’s not going to be a success, then there’s no point at giving them financial support by buying it since they need a larger-scale revenue anyway.

        • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

          The small stuff is important, too. They don’t need you to focus on buying mostly the bigger stuff because 10 million other people will. They need the other projects to be profitable, too – partly to help fund their bigger projects without digging too much into their existing assets.

          • K2L

            “partly to help fund their bigger projects ”
            So you mean buying a commercial failure of a game only to support the development of a potentially more mainstream game? This only strengthens my reasons to not get Pikmin 3, actually.
            And I would have passed on the satanically reviled Skyward Sword too, if it wasn’t for my mentally retarded brother.

            • Guest

              Reviled? You’re kidding, that game got solid 10s from most media outlets, It sits at a solid 93 in metacritic. Don’t get me wrong I know metacritic can be full of crap, and that there was a lot of hype around that game that likely influenced the media, but I don’t even get the idea that the actual fanbase hates the game like you say. I think it drew out strong opinions from people about the conventions of the series, but there is no solid theme out there that it was rejected by the community as crap. Rather I think everybody accepted that whether it was a personal favority or not, it was very very well made and became the sole justification for making the Wii in the first place.

        • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

          It IS going to be a success. That’s his whole point in the article. It just won’t turn around the Wii U sales completely.

    • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

      Seriously? He specifically said it WON’T be a failure. It just won’t be a system seller. He mentioned how awesome it’s gonna be, you shouldn’t pass up on it. There are plenty of other games, like Okami for example, that were absolutely terrific, but they just weren’t that well known. Really, you have a very warped view of what “failing games” are.

    • jcl

      So if it’s good, but isn’t going to be as popular as Mario and Zelda, you won’t buy it? Even if it’s a good game? Do you not like having fun?

      That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all day. The complete opposite of hipster mentality, and still just as a bad.

  • Fezzel

    It’s kind of funny. I’d never had an interest in any consoles before the Wii (and I hadn’t even heard of Pikmin before a few months ago) and yet Pikmin 3 was pretty much one of the only reasons I purchased a Wii U.

  • http://twitter.com/FlameDragon_ Stealth

    It doesnt have to

  • Terrak

    I dont think there are many games on any platform that can single handedly move consoles. I agree though that this may not be a big reason for consumers to buy a Wii U on its own, But this in conjunction with other games will have a positive effect on Wii U sales. In other words the more games that become available for the console the more attractive a proposition it becomes for potential buyers. This game will simply add volume to the consoles library. And thats what any launch console needs – more games.

    For the real sellers its always 1 year in to a consoles life. Thats when there is a large enough user base for the big budget games. 1st year is always the hard slog. Dont expect any other console to be any different – especially ps4 or 720 which as far as we know dont have a gamechanging feature.

  • ImNotNoJames

    I have been an avid Nintendo fan my entire life. Yet, I have never played Pikmin until the short quest on Nintendo Land. Between that and the clips I have seen, I am very much anticipating Pikmin3. Granted, I already own a Wii u. But If I didn’t, I would try to get one for this game (assuming I still would have played Nintendo Land somehow). Perhaps I would fall into a small percentile, but there may be more fans than previous for the series.

    • macaronij

      Same case, never heard of pimkin before nintendo land… now i´ m really wainting this game! I understand why nintendo did not let people use their mii, so we could know nintendo character better.