The Great Hardcore Lie Exposed: Wii Did Not Lose Core Gamers

In April of last year, Satoru Iwata claimed that one of the issues faced by Wii was that the new gamers Wii attracted didn’t translate into profitable customers. Because of this, Nintendo decided to step back from the priority they had placed on these new gamers with Wii when creating Wii U, instead focusing on the more “core” gamer, who he says felt alienated by Wii.

“Wii was able to reach a large number of new consumers who had never played games before by bringing hands-on experiences with its Wii Sports and Wii Fit,” he told investors. “However, we could not adequately create the situation that such new consumers played games frequently or for long, consistent periods. As a result, we could not sustain a good level of profit. Moreover, regrettably, what we prioritized in order to reach out to the new audience was a bit too far from what we prioritized for those who play games as their hobby. Consequently, we presume some people felt that the Wii was not a game system for them or they were not willing to play with the Wii even though some compelling games had been released.”

This idea that Wii lost core gamers while focusing too much on casuals is pretty widespread…but it’s also totally false! The fact of the matter is that Wii had a stronger core gamer audience than any other Nintendo console in history – and I’ve got the data to prove it.

Myth #1: Wii Didn’t Offer Many Core Titles

wii-core-gamesFundamental to the idea that Wii wasn’t a system for core gamers is the notion that Wii wasn’t a system for core games, either. However, it’s easy to see from Wii’s lineup that this simply isn’t true. In fact, the record shows that Nintendo’s “core” lineup for Wii stands its own against those for Nintendo 64 and GameCube.

Sure, there are some holes – Wii is obviously missing its Star Fox, its Wave Race, its F-Zero – but it also fills voids from its predecessors’ lineups by supplying games like New Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Country Returns.

To be fair to all platforms under consideration, I’m taking the broadest possible definition of “core games.” That means anything that’s part of a major “traditional” Nintendo franchise will make the list:

Nintendo 64

Diddy Kong Racing
Donkey Kong 64
Excitebike 64
F-Zero X
Jet Force Gemini
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Mario Kart 64
Paper Mario
Pilotwings 64
Pokémon Snap
Pokémon Stadium
Pokémon Stadium 2
Super Smash Bros.
Star Fox 64
Super Mario 64
Wave Race 64
Yoshi’s Story
Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Total: 20 games

Nintendo GameCube

Animal Crossing
Baten Kaitos
Baten Kaitos Origins
Battalion Wars
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
Donkey Konga
Donkey Konga 2
Donkey Konga 3
Eternal Darkness
F-Zero GX
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Luigi’s Mansion
Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Metroid Prime
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Paper Mario: TTYD
Pikmin 2
Pokémon Colosseum
Pokémon Colosseum XD
Star Fox Adventures
Star Fox Assault
Super Mario Sunshine
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Wario World
Wave Race: Blue Storm
Zelda: Collector’s Edition
Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
Zelda: The Wind Waker
Zelda: Twilight Princess
Total: 30 games


Animal Crossing: City Folk
Battalion Wars 2
Donkey Kong Barrel Blast
Donkey Kong Country Returns
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (NPC)
Excite Truck
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
Kirby’s Dream Collection
Kirby’s Epic Yarn
Kirby’s Return to Dreamland
Mario Kart Wii
Metroid: Other M
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
Metroid Prime Trilogy
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Pikmin (NPC)
Pikmin 2 (NPC)
Pokémon Battle Revolution
Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
Super Mario All-Stars
Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Paper Mario
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Wario Land: Shake It!
Xenoblade Chronicles
Zelda: Skyward Sword
Zelda: Twilight Princess
Total: 30 games

As you can see, even reaching into the “iffy” pile with games like Donkey Konga, Eternal Darkness, and Baten Kaitos for GameCube still leaves Wii on strong footing in terms of its number of “core” games. And it’s way ahead of Nintendo 64, even counting a number of Rare titles that technically aren’t Nintendo properties anymore.

Pretty impressive for a console that supposedly didn’t have anything to offer core gamers.

Myth #2: Wii Attracted Fewer Core Gamers

Many may say “but lots of these games use motion controls, and motion controls are meant for the casuals!” However, I’ll point again to the debut trailer for Wii, which demonstrated that the motion control Revolution also targets core gamers right there alongside the “casuals”:

The presence of motion controls really isn’t what’s at issue. What’s at issue is really more about whether the core franchises fared better (or worse) because of (or despite) the use of motion controls.

I suppose it’s true that just because Nintendo pumped out just as many “core” games on Wii than they did on GameCube, it’s not necessarily the case those games attracted as many gamers. The existence of an editorial by IGN veteran Matt Casamassina that asks that very question demonstrates how deep that skepticism runs.

But looking at Wii’s record, it’s clear that Wii not only attracted more players to most of its core franchises – it blew GameCube completely out of the water:

3D Mario

Super Mario Galaxy: 11.72 million sales (source)
Super Mario Galaxy 2: 6.36 million sales (source)
Super Mario Sunshine: 5.5 million sales (source)

Mario Kart

Mario Kart Wii: 34.29 million sales (source)
Mario Kart Double Dash!!: 7 million sales (source)

Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl: 11.49 million sales (source)
Super Smash Bros. Melee: 7.09 million sales (source)


The Legend of Zelda

Twilight Princess (Wii): 5.82 million sales (source)
The Wind Waker: 4.6 million sales (source)
Skyward Sword: 3.52 million sales (source)
Twilight Princess (GCN): 1.32 million sales (source)


Metroid Prime: 2 million sales (source)
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: 1.31 million sales (source)
Metroid Prime: Trilogy: ~530,000 sales (estimated)
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes: 800,000 sales (source)

Paper Mario

Super Paper Mario: 2.28 million sales (source)
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: 1.64 million sales

Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing: City Folk: 3.38 million sales (source)
Animal Crossing: 2.32 million sales

If you define “core gamers” as “people who play core games,” then it’s clear that Wii actually had more core gamers than its predecessors. The only series to see significant decline on Wii despite releases of brand-new titles was Metroid, and the decline was smaller than the growth experienced by literally any of the other franchises. Even then, Metroid for Wii is still perceived as highly valuable among core gamers – Metroid Prime Trilogy frequently fetches over $100 online.

mptrilogy-wii-coreThis doesn’t make sense if the system was, as many have believed, “dominated by casuals.” Not if “casuals” are supposedly buying games like Wii Fit and Carnival Games instead of core games. You can’t have it both ways – either “casuals” don’t buy core games, or they do. And if they do, that blurs the distinction between “casuals” and “core gamers.”

The so-called Hardcore Gamers refuse to accept this fact. They cling to the belief that Wii was marked by the loss of “core gamers,” even though any idiot can look at the number of people who went out and bought “core games” each generation – the only really objective metric for measuring the size of the “core gamer” audience – and see that Wii is the clear all-time winner. It had just as many core games as GameCube, but at the end of the day it had more people lined up to buy them.

Of course, you don’t even really need to compare so many franchises in this tedious fashion. Taking New Super Mario Bros. Wii into consideration – Super Mario Bros. is a core franchise, after all – there were more “core gamers” on Wii than there were gamers period on GameCube. 27.88 million is a good bit more than 21.74 million.

But the Hardcore Gamer will deny this, too. New Super Mario Bros. isn’t a core game; it’s a casual game. And while there’s an extent to which I can agree – there’s a clear distinction between Super Mario Bros. and the other so-called “core” games in terms of appeal – we must never forget that using this broader appeal to discard Super Mario Bros. as a part of Nintendo’s core lineup is sheer propagandizing. People would have laughed in your face if you told them that Super Mario Bros. is not a game for gamers back in the ’80s. Though I can agree that the newer games aren’t as special for their time as the older games, that’s no reason to claim them as exceptions.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a core title – it just reaches to a certain kind of core gamer that Nintendo had previously abandoned. (Ironic, no? I thought Wii was the system that abandoned core gamers!) The Hardcore Gamer, believing himself special, cannot abide the idea that Nintendo would work to appeal to gamers other than he. If Nintendo does not devote its attention to satisfying the Hardcore Gamer (and the Hardcore Gamer only), then he will cry foul.

Myth #3: Wii Was Most Popular With Casuals

There’s another large misconception that I see tossed around a lot: that most Wii owners were casuals who never wound up buying “core games” anyway. They just stuck with Wii Sports or Wii Fit. This one’s a lot more difficult to dispel, as it requires us to dig deep back into Nintendo’s sales records.

By March 2007, Wii had sold 5.84 million units and 28.84 million games. That’s almost five games per system. More than half of Wii owners at that point – 3.27 million – had purchased Twilight Princess for Wii.

smg-wii-in-reviewBetween that time and March 2008, Nintendo sold 18.61 million Wiis and 119.6 million Wii games. That’s an even better yearly ratio of 6.4 games per system, bringing the cumulative attach rate to about 6 games per Wii owner. During this time, Nintendo sold more than 6 million copies of Super Mario Galaxy, 4.85 million copies of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and 2.27 million copies of Super Paper Mario.

Unlike Twilight Princess, none of these titles individually makes up a majority part of the yearly hardware sales numbers, meaning it likely is true that many new Wii buyers during this time weren’t really going for those “core” games, but it would be misleading to say that most Wii owners at the time weren’t buying many games period. Otherwise we’d see attach rates drop rather than increase. The contributions of a relatively small active install base (considerably less than half of Wii owners at the time) couldn’t have offset a lack of software sales to a considerably larger disinterested install base that only purchased 1-2 Wii games total unless they all bought something like 7-10 new games apiece in 2007, which is extremely unlikely.

Between April 2008 and March 2009, Nintendo sold 25.95 million Wiis and 204.58 million Wii games. Interestingly, there were two supremely standout titles released during that time – Wii Fit (16.37 million) and Mario Kart Wii (15.4 million). Again, however, it’s clear that even if every Wii Fit sale corresponded to a non-core gamer who only bought Wii Sports and Wii Fit, that’d still leave core gamers to pick up the remaining 160 million game slack. As was the case the previous year, that means those gamers would have had to buy about eight games each just in 2008.

wii-fitFast-forward to March 2013, and Wii has sold 99.84 million systems and 869.06 million games. That’s an average attach rate of 8.7 games per system. Even if we assume that there were a large number of system owners – say about 30 million – who only bought one or two games over the system’s life, that’d leave about 70 million systems and 800 million games that were sold to non-casual customers.

That means that the “core audience” for Wii actually bought more games on average than for any other Nintendo console in history… while still being larger than the total audience for those systems, NES being the previous best-seller with 61.91 million units sold. Even if you keep jacking up the number of “casual-only” gamers to more like 40 or 50 million, Wii still reached more “core gamers” than either Nintendo 64 or GameCube, while also reaching the less-dedicated gamers that those platforms lost.

There’s no evidence to suggest that Wii “lost core gamers,” as many seem to believe. That’s a patent lie, invented by the Hardcore Gamer to solicit Nintendo to create fewer games for other audiences – which the Industry refuses to recognize as “core” (even though they are more critical to Nintendo’s success!) – and more games to satisfy the Hardcore (even though they are the pioneers on the path to Nintendo’s decline).

The fact of the matter is that the data demonstrates that, if anything, Wii actually created core gamers. Not only that, it demonstrates that the Wii Revolution, which began with Wii Sports, was not merely the beginning of a new era of “casuals” but the “expansion of the gaming population,” just as Nintendo intended it to be.

To address Mr. Iwata’s earlier point, it was this process of creating new core gamers – not appealing to the wishes of the Hardcore – that led Nintendo and the Industry to their greatest profitability levels of all time between 2007 and 2009. It is only when Nintendo stopped creating games correctly aimed at attracting new audiences – games like Wii Sports, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and Mario Kart Wii – that Wii’s profitability finally declined.

  • K2L

    Absolutely brilliant article, Alex. Believe it or not, it actually debunked several of the concerns I had about the matter. Kudos, I put this article as one of my favorite Internet pages.

    I consider myself a veteran gamer. I have played several titles on PC, NES, N64, GCN, DS and Wii. In the latter, I got a total of 17 titles (and I’m not discarding getting one or two more in a near future), compared to the 16 (now 15) I had on GCN. There are several Wii games that I can recommend, and nearly all of those games are as fleshed as the so-called “mature games”. Look, I do know there were things the Wii did wrong, but I don’t think these should overshadow the good things it did. Much like the DS, of which there was skepticism too for its touch controls, and now it’s the best-selling console ever.

    It’s all about looking for the games that suit you. I found those that appealed to me in N64, then in GCN, DS and Wii. I already have four games for Wii U, and the one I’m currently playing (Assassin’s Creed III) is amazing. The matches of Injustice: Gods Among Us between my brother, cousin, friend and me are nothing short of epic, and we enjoy them regardless of who has more or less experience in games.
    And I’m the same person who greatly enjoyed Wii Sports Resort and Nintendo Land.

  • Tensei

    Great article. I read on CVG the top 50 wii games. In the comments people said ‘oh I didnt know the wii had 50 great games.’

    What you actually have is vocal traditional gamers who occupy PS3, 360 and PC plaftorms picking on Nintendo because they are different. When a chorus of people shout loud enough and long enough these myths become fact. It also doesnt help that some mainstream journalists also jump in to smear and ridicule Wii motion controls.

    That being said however you neglected third parties which is where I feel the ire and myths came from. The lack of parity in third party games (or the type of third party games -shovelware-) was and is a problem. I think the lack of third party support (in terms of blockbuster releases) make people feel like there are no game releases because they can only wait for Nintendo blockbusters. In the end lack of third party support will hurt any console manufacturer because they are not collecting royalties. That is why the Wii U was conceived to appease third parties.

    I hear vocal Nintendo fans say I buy Nintendo consoles for Nintendo games. But in an age of technological convergence where pieces of hardware are suppose to cater for a range of needs is that sentiment even viable anymore. Only select third party publishers (like Ubisoft) will embark on Nintendo mission to expand gaming but yet they need to cater to a plurality of publishers to collect royalties for a healthy business. What is Nintendo to do but compromise. It is a conundrum.

    • Alex Plant

      I’ve been thinking about the third-party question as well, but I’ll treat it in a separate article where I can present more detailed research on the issue without totally overwhelming people.

      • Tensei

        Yea I read that article and that is the problem. Nintendo’s fanbase are use to quality software. But Nintendo cant tell EA or Activision, for example, The Walking Dead: Survival Instincts is not up to our standards so you cant release it on our platform. In turn Nintendo fans see it and ignore it. Activision will blame Nintendo and diminish support. It is a vicious cycle.

        In actuality it is EA that will throw their toys out of the pram, most of the time, because their business is less certain than Activision.

      • DementedAvenger27

        great article man. this was always a subject that bugs me. I’m glad I have this to reference the fanboys out there. Wii had games for those who are gamers.

    • Churze

      Well said and I agree. Except I think there are plenty of great 3rd party Wii games. They simply are ignored because they are on Wii, and as we all know, any game on Wii must suck because of Xbax graphics better online.

  • Guy

    What about tales of symphonia, that’s more of a core game than baten kaitos.

    • Alex Plant

      Tales of Symphonia is decidedly third-party. Baten Kaitos was developed by Monolith Soft, which is now part of Nintendo.

      • J.j. Barrington

        They weren’t a part of Nintendo when they made the game, were they? Then why include that game?

  • InfernalDinosaur

    The Wii is great for Nintendo fans and people into more niche stuff. Does it have a great selection of hardcore multiplatform titles? No, or they are really inferior on Wii. I love mine. But I couldn’t imagine it as my only system, and that’s fine.

  • Damien Coté

    In the 2nd gen era, I was a hardcore GCN player. I felt that the Wii was lacking. You list many Wii titles, but a big chunk of them are just remakes, games I have already beaten before coming out again (I LOVE the Metroid Prime Trilogy though). I think the problem was that the GCN expanded on the N64′s solid foundation, but the Wii didn’t go anywhere; it matched the GCN and just remade a lot of games for it. This is what I believe caused me to loose interest and get bored of Nintendo. I think the revolution of the Wii’s motion controls and the lack of reinventing their already strong franchise, is why people blame the Wii is not for the core gamers and to bring in the casual ones. I still have a Wii, but 90% of the time it’s not plugged in and my 360 dominates my VG hours.

    • Alex Plant

      GCN couldn’t possibly have “expanded” on N64′s solid foundation because GCN saw DECLINE from the N64 era. “Expanded” implies that GCN was bigger than N64. It was not; it was much smaller. This is why when Wii was made, Miyamoto said of the GameCube era that “the market was disappearing.”

      • Damien Coté

        I meant they took what N64 had started and created further IE more games in series that the N64 had created (well really many of them came from the NES and SNES era). I didn’t say they did a better job. The Wii just did a bunch of remakes and didn’t do much for expanding series. And example of what I mean by expanding from system to system. N64 had Zelda Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, GCN had Wind Waker and shared Twilight with the Wii, and the Wii had Skyward Sword. There were more transitions of series from the N64 to the GCN than there was to the Wii. The Wii just remade old classics.

        Look at the total core games for each system…

        I am sorry I didn’t portray what I meant properly. Hope this helps clear it up

    • Cesar Barroso

      being ports means that most buyers were new, right?

    • Linksawakeningisazeldagame

      “You list many Wii titles, but a big chunk of them are just remakes”
      Read the list of 30 Wii games again. There were barely any remakes.

      “it matched the GCN and just remade a lot of games for it”
      But most of them were new games.

      “I think the revolution of the Wii’s motion controls and the lack of reinventing their already strong franchise”
      Mario Galaxy and Skyward Sword???

    • Churze

      The thing is that you simply missed the great Wii games. There are a massive amount of hidden gems on Wii and I can name them.

  • Mike Rentschler

    I consider myself a “casual gamer” yet I still bought a good number of “core” Wii games. Skyward Sword, SSBB, Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, NSMBW, and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, to name a few. Also bought a few of the better 3rd party games like Sonic Colors.

    • Jaxon Holden

      Lol, you’re the most awesome “casual” gamer I’ve ever heard of! Fire Emblem is rarely even enjoyed by most CORE gamers (though hopefully Awakening is changing that)… Wish there were more casuals like yourself

  • Tyler Garyoak Vittitow

    I was just curious on something; not that it applies to the NGC/Wii comparison, how many copies of Paper Mario for the N64 for sold, including/excluding the Virtual Console release of it?

    • Alex Plant

      I don’t know the exact figure, but I’m pretty sure it’s less than TTYD. (In the ballpark of 1.5 million.)

      • Tyler Garyoak Vittitow

        Makes sense; the first one was a huge hit for me and my friends, so I was under the presumption that it sold a lot more than it’s sequels. Ignorance is bliss I suppose, it’s notable that you didn’t exactly need to play the first two to fully enjoy Super Paper Mario.

        Thank, Alex!

  • Emilio Valle

    64 line up still the best

  • Brian R Dalgetty

    I think that Nintendo’s issue isn’t the market they were trying to appeal to, it is that they do not release first party games very frequently, I love Nintendo games and I appreciate the high quality of most of their first party titles but I feel Nintendo should outsource some of their bigger franchises that they aren’t personally working on. Nintendo should let more companies work on there franchises in the way they let Retro Studios make the Metroid Prime games and Donkey Kong Country Returns, if Nintendo can get a few more developers like Retro to help make some of there first party franchises I can imagine there sales will increase, Nintendo needs to get more than one game out in a franchise every 4-5 years, Mario and Pokemon seem to be the only exceptions to this rule, if Nintendo started releasing games every 2-3 years instead it would keep their fanbase a bit happier. Also on a side note they should have had more games for the Wii U launch, they needed something to be a system seller and nothing at the launch really had that title(New Super mario Bros. U was not a system seller) the Wii had Twilight Princess right from the get go and that was a huge draw for Nintendo fans, Nintendo may not be able to redo the launch of the Wii U but if it gets a more steady and frequent game release schedule their sales will increase.

    • Churze

      Nintendo’s big problem is that they don’t WANT to market their hardcore franchises I feel…

  • zdog

    Alex you guys are on on roll and are putting out some seriously stellar articles. I don’t know how you are finding the time for it. I LOVE the idea that there are core gamers that don’t ascribe to ultra violence and shameless sexuality, but that enjoy the core Nintendo titles. This completely changed my view on Wii. I was always disappointed about the direction I thought Nintendo had set itself with Wii, but no kidding my outlook is completely different. Just makes me wish Wii U was a proper successor to it rather than gamecube! I still am confident they can turn that around though, particularly with Zelda Wii U. Even Super Luigi U looks like a good return to some fundamentals regarding challenge in sidescroller Super Mario games that has been absent for some time.

  • pipparos

    I am and always have been a Nintendo fan. Although some of my favorite games are on the Wii (Zelda, SSB, Fire emblem) I was disappointed in the lack of games like Assassin’s creed (but that will all change with the Wii U :D) and the fact that if a multiplatform game was on the Wii, it always had the worst performance. That said, I still love my Wii and when you think about it, Nintendo did start the hole video game thing. I get really annoyed when people say that Nintendo is crap and that the Wii U will be it’s last console. But just look at what it’s bought us. If it wasn’t for Nintendo, video games would be years behind what they are now. Sure the PS3 and Xbox are good but how many classics do they have compared to Nintendo? It only really new core gamers that don’t play the Wii, but that’s because they grew up with PS2 and not the Nintendo 64. I personally think a core gamer is someone who loves all games so if you don’t like Nintendo, you’re not a real gamer.

  • Miles Metts

    I am a Hardcore gamer, and despite this article forgetting we still exist, I am a Hardcore Nintendo Gamer, I’ve been with Nintendo since NES, and they’ve been with me.
    With a VERY hearty number of games played to completion, probably above 200 on Nintendo consoles alone. I personally believe the Wii was a success, it was the community that was a failure but dissing and bashing everything Nintendo did (And then saying “This is top of the line tech!) when Microsoft and Sony copied them.)

  • {MOH} Regulators

    Nicely done article, you backed up everything you said. The thing about the whole “core” and “casual” argument is that people use those terms when it fits their own needs of an argument. If you were a Sony or Microsoft fanboy, you needed to say something in order to feel better about getting beat by a less powerful machine like the Wii was. So you start making excuses, and that is exactly what happened.

    The Wii had a ton of core games, almost every gamer I know that has an Xbox 360 or PS3 also has a Wii, it reached massive saturation.

  • Andrew Vrba

    The Wii was the most fun to play FPSes on.

  • Adventurer of Hyrule

    Nice article. You forgot about Metroid the other M though.

  • cheat-master30 Anon

    Nice Article, but there are a few things that bug me here.

    1. Where’s the comparison to Mario 64 for best selling 3D Mario title? Because last I heard, that sold pretty well for a 3D Mario title (better than Sunshine and Galaxy 2 at any rate), and it would be interesting to see how Galaxy 1 stacks up to it sales wise.

    2. Why no comparison to NES/SNES first party games? Because not only could the Wii first party line up potentially compare well with them, but also because the same people who seem to hate on the Wii may well have hated on the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube as well back in the day.

    But other than that, I agree entirely with the points raised in the article.

    • Alex Plant

      Mario Galaxy has now sold more copies than Super Mario 64.

      I like the idea of talking in more detail about the NES/SNES people and where they went with N64 and GameCube, though!

  • Axe99

    It’s a good article, but it also misses the importance of actually talking to the core gamers. I gamed on the SNES and N64 of a friend, bought a Gamecube and loved all three. I bought a Wii and after a few months traded it in, in frustration. It’s the only console, ever, I’ve regretted owning, and I have a number of mates who had similar experiences. The Wii U sounds like a much better proposition, but after the experience of the Wii, I’ve been far more reluctant to jump on board (I game on most platforms, so I can live without a Wii U, and I sure as hell was able to live without a Wii). I hope the Wii U does well, but after the pain the Wii put me through, I doubt I’ll ever be heading back to Ninty.

  • Sergio1112

    Fantastic article!!! ^^

  • Randall Hellmer

    I take issue with much of this article.

    Blanket assumptions are made about some of the figures here, and some of the estimates, which are often compared to more concrete figures, have no basis whatsoever.

    I also have a problem with anyone who uses the term “core games.” Not only does it serve to perpetuate the false separation between so-called core and casual experiences, but it’s an arbitrary, subjective distinction, in an article that was clearly trying to take an objective viewpoint.

    In short, I take issue with the mathematics, methodology, and mindset behind this article.

    • Alex Plant

      You’ll notice I put the term “core gamers” in quotation marks fairly consistently. This was intentional.

      Also, there is ONE sales estimate (for Metroid Prime Trilogy). The rest of the estimates are aimed at breaking down the assumption that Wii owners were all/mostly people who just bought Wii Sports and/or Wii Fit. The idea was to analyze what that would mean for Wii’s audience: if EVERYBODY who bought Wii Fit didn’t buy other games, that would mean Wii’s active audience was VERY active, and if Wii Fit customers DID buy other games, then that means Wii Fit customers WERE active gamers.

      • Randall Hellmer

        It doesn’t matter whether you put it in quotation marks if you’re still using it unironically as the basis for your argument. Further, “Core” in this context does not mean first-party, it’s short for “hardcore” which means passionate or avid. Thus a core gamer is someone who is passionate or avid about gaming, and hardcore games is an arbitrary and stupid distinction, since games can be neither passionate or avid, and is a term perpetuated by gaming purists. The common usage of this arbitrary and stupid term is “games that core gamers play,” not the reverse, as you use here.

        As far as your estimates go, you’re using software sales figures that includes pre-packaged software, for starters, which accounts for at least 100 million so-called sales, which account for only sporadically. You’re estimating the number of games casual gamers buy, as well the proportions of core gamers who purchased systems. You make blanket assumptions about the kind of games both audiences buy, and then use that assumption to create estimates that you use to “disprove” other people’s assumptions. Someone could take the same figures and with an equal level of assumption prove the exact opposite of what you have here. It’s not an argument that can be proven or disproven, given that most of it is anecdotal, which is why these assumptions about the Wii have gone unchallenged.

        • Alex Plant

          I think you’re reading a bit much into my use of the word “core.” It’s an appeal to the idea that there are such distinctions, sure, but only for the sake of breaking down the idea that Wii’s “core” was weaker than past consoles. (Those gamers are mostly interested in a certain kind of game, and so I’m evaluating the performance of those types of games.)

          At the end of the day, I don’t really care about the term; what’s important to me is how well companies reach an audience.

          I don’t think pre-packaged sales would diminish the point when it comes to games like Mario Kart Wii and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, both of which were all-time best-sellers before they were ever bundled. And aside from those games, nothing I closely analyze here was EVER part of a Wii bundle.

          • Randall Hellmer

            With respect, the entire premise of your article hinges on the definition of the word. You’re arguing that “core” gamers didn’t abandon the company, while using a completely different definition than the people you are arguing against.

            And your analysis of the third point had a lot to do with Tie ratios, which were skewed by the bundling of Wii Sports, which you mostly didn’t account for.

            Another thing: by your definition, core gamers buy “core games,” and casual gamers buy “casual games.” Yet the core games you listed, which even you admit stretch the definition, account for less than 20% of all games sold on the system; if you take out NSMB, Mario Kart, and Animal crossing, which are arguably very much casual fare, the percentage drops to only around 12% . Which means the other 80-88% of games were casual games, bought by casual gamers. In which case, the only thing “disproven” is the assumption about how many games casual gamers buy.

            • Alex Plant

              The point isn’t about PERCENTAGES of Wii sales. It’s about how much of an audience turned out in NUMBERS compared to previous Nintendo consoles.

              Of course it’s true that Wii tapped into all-new audiences with Wii Sports, Wii Fit, etc. that are much larger than the more traditional gaming audience. I have no intention of disputing this. But the idea that “Wii abandoned core gamers” seems to suggest that the GameCube-type gaming audience was actually SMALLER on Wii – and that’s not true.

              • Randall Hellmer

                Here’s the thing, though. Assuming that the 12% of games, or around 100 million units, represents the contribution of the “core gamer”, and assuming that each of them bought 8-10 games, that comes out to…10-12 million core gamers. Far short of the 50-70 million you estimated.

                More, you ignore an important factor in these assumptions. An increase in the sales of certain franchises could also indicate that their fanbase has become less stratified; that more Zelda fans bought Metroid games, or more Mario fans bought Animal Crossing, etc..

                • Alex Plant

                  You’re taking the “50-70 million” estimate out of context. It’s a specific response to the idea that tons of Wii owners only bought Wii Sports and/or Wii Fit. The main point to be made is that tracking the sales timeline suggests that there were just as many if not more Wii owners that were buying several games – and that, even if we assume that the number of Wii Sports/Fit-only customers is higher, that just results in a more active segment of the remaining customers.

                  And it’s a win-win for Nintendo, because even if the Wii Sports/Fit customer segments were more active, that means they weren’t – as the myth sustains – the completely terrible customers people make them out to be.

                  • Randall Hellmer

                    You’re right, and I certainly agree that casual gamers contributed a great deal to software sales But that only proves the point that the console is mostly popular for casual gamers, which is the myth you were trying to disprove.

                    Terrible, no, but certainly fickle. Casual customers don’t often form strong brand loyalties, which is why the Wii burnt out so quickly. They bought the system, they played it, and then they either stopped playing or moved onto something cheaper. Which is part of why the Wii U isn’t doing so well; the customers feel no sense of loyalty, and the things they moved onto are much cheaper.

                    • Alex Plant

                      Wii’s burnout actually didn’t happen until much later in its life than most Nintendo consoles. And it happened because Nintendo stopped making games, which is the same reason it happened for most of the others.

            • Churze

              I don’t agree with you, but I love how insanely troll free Gengame is…

  • J.j. Barrington

    You do a wonderful job of painting a picture while glossing over the glaring holes in your argument.

    Sunshine sold 5.5 million on a console that sold 21 million units. That’s about a quarter. Combining the two Galaxy games shows about a fifth.

    I could go through this for every game listed, but we already know where this is going.

    As for your list of core games for each system…. Excite Truck? Animal Crossing? Wario Land? But you say you reached into the “iffy” pile for the Gamecube?

    C’mon, man.

    • Alex Plant

      I can cross off the Wario, Animal Crossing, and Donkey Konga games I listed for GameCube, too.

      Fact of the matter, “core” is not “gritty M-rated games.” “Core” is “games regular customers gravitate towards.”

      • smashbrolink

        I saw that you mentioned Xenoblade Chronicles, but why no mention of The Last Story or Pandora’s Tower?

  • Cesar Barroso

    I would like to know how many games did Wii owners bought. I am sure that they had more games for the Wii than for any of their other systems, including PS3 and XBOX360. Videogames is my hobby, meaning i have a lot of stuff to do before I play a game (and I like RPG’s a lot, it’s just i have an unusual gaming pace), but with the Wii i had around 40 titles since 2010 and that is because I couldn’t keep up with the games. So I decided I was not going to buy more that I can handle.
    INclude on that list: Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, Pandora’s Tower, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and many others consuming time titles.