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Dead Space: Extraction not exclusive? Why Wii owners shouldn’t mind

Posted on August 9, 2009 by (@NE_Brian) in Features, Wii


With the recent announcement of Dead Space: Extraction possibly losing it’s exclusivity to Wii, many Nintendo gamers have been whipping out their flamethrowers and taking gaming message boards by storm, infuriated by the constant “betrayal” from Wii third party developers. It started with the rumor that Marvelous would be porting one of their Wii games to PS3/360, followed shortly thereafter by the announcement of No More Heroes’ fateful end on the Wii, and now one of Wii’s most anticipated mature games (Dead Space) has the possibility of leaving the system as well. Regrettably, Wii’s third party situation is far from perfect, and part of that has to do with the failure of so many fantastic non-Nintendo efforts flopping on the little white box, and thus arrives the paradox of outside developers creating games for Wii.

Developers are drawn to Wii by the cheap development costs and the massive install base, but when the vast majority of core gaming experience market disappointment on the system, these determined teams must find solace in the high core sales on other systems, resorting to porting their games or moving franchises in order to increase revenue and continue working on beloved franchises. In the case of moving an entire franchise, it is understandable that fans could feel betrayed, as they are losing a game series that they enjoy, but when a developer ports a game to another system in order to increase sales and popularity of that game, where’s the harm in that? Far too many negative thoughts have been shared regarding the sheer immorality of the rumored move, and I’m at a bit of a loss as to the reasoning behind them.

Using Muramasa: The Demon Blade as a prime example (and no, I’m not hinting at anything in terms of the game’s future), would the game being ported to another system really be so terrible? Neglecting the sales the Wii as a console may gain from the title staying exclusive (though it’s not like Wii needs them), the only side effects that would be reaped from doing such would be positive financial in the way of Vanillaware, and increased game popularity. Neither of these things can be deemed inherently “bad”, and would only give the developer a stronger foundation to make new and better games.

Naysayers would argue that the lost sales from this hypothetical lack of core exclusives is more than enough to warrant anger at the “backstabbing” developers, but it is important to take into account which Wii games are actually selling systems. While there is no doubt that in the early days of the Wii, the combination of motion controls and the return of Nintendo’s core franchises sold millions of units, but Nintendo’s marketing strategy has shifted to focus far more heavily on the casual market to the point where the vast majority of console’s sold are for casual gamers, as evidence by the sales of titles in that same demographic. Perhaps a few hundred, or even a thousand Wiis won’t be sold if a game like Muramasa weren’t exclusive, but for myself (and I’m sure for developers) it is a small price to pay to let developers continue to make fantastic games for the console.

Now of course there are some games that cannot be multi-platform because of the restrictions on other platforms, such as Boom Blox’s throwing mechanic, but games like No More Heroes, MadWorld and Muramasa use a control style that would not be hurt in any significant way by the switch to another console. Not only would Wii owners still be getting their quality experience, but others could share that experience as well and the developer would generate enough profit to continue making great games for everyone to play. Unless you’re an advocate of console wars or enjoy one system “losing” to another, there is little reason not to move certain games to other systems. In the case of Extraction, of course Wii has a draw that the other consoles do not, but the generalized idea of third party games losing exclusivity often wouldn’t be stopped by system restrictions.

Let’s face it: Not all third party core titles sell particularly well on Wii. You can argue that they simply sell slowly, or that each and every game has some little niche that prevents it from selling, constantly looking towards an upcoming game to further “prove” that quality third party experiences sell on Wii. But the bottom line is that no matter how “decent” a title can sell on Wii, a game like No More Heroes would likely surpass a million on another console when it has sold less than half of that on Wii. Perhaps in the future this will change, but for now the best route for third party developers to take if they want to make significant profit is to sometimes consider avoiding third party exclusives on Wii. Not only will this allow them to create better games in the future, but no one loses the experience of enjoying the game.

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