Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 2, 2014

Email: Pikmin 3 and Wind Waker HD

Dear Master Malstrom,
I apologize if your indox is still full with emails but theres one question that I have that I have not found the answer to and is starting to confuse me. Its about pikmin 3 and wind waker HD. I haven’t purchased them, but I keep hearing people say on how well they have selled and are considered great games through some reviews and on wikipedia. I know I had a look at your articles about how you mentioned that pikmin 3 failed to sell the hardware and is it the same with wind waker HD? I have been confused with people at nintendo and fans saying it was a success while others say it failed to sell. My question to this is did both games fail to do their jobs in terms of selling both software and hardware despite what others may say? If possible, please get back to me as soon as possible. It be greatly appreciated and would definately give clarity to my question.


Console sales are a  momentum based business. Nintendo’s pattern is for first party games to carve out the install base within the first three years, switch to the handheld (or home console), and all third party companies to take over at that point. The large install base is to attract third party software companies.

The entire purpose of First Party Software is not to make the games Nintendo fans like but to increase the install base (often called increasing the console’s momentum). Many people who don’t look at the business side would be shocked to find which games increase the install base and which do not within console game history. Some games like sports games (Madden) and Call of Duty increase a console’s install base. But the super-artsy-fartsy Loligirls RPG that the game message forum cheers does not.

Wind Waker HD and Pikmin 3 did not increase the sales momentum of the Wii U hence they were failed games. Wind Waker HD has some room to slide because it was not expensive at all to re-release a Gamecube game. Pikmin 3, however, was very expensive to make. Nintendo clearly doesn’t want to talk about Pikmin 3’s development as evident by the glaring lack of Iwata Asks on the game.

Ocarina of Time 3d did increase sales momentum of the 3DS. Hence, that game did its job for the console.

The error of people claiming Pikmin 3 or The Wind Waker HD being a ‘success’ was just looking at the sales number and not looking at the momentum. A million or so of the game is WORTHLESS if it isn’t increasing the install base rate of the console. That is the ENTIRE PURPOSE of First Party Games. If First Party Games do not increase the install base, Nintendo will exit the console business as third parties cannot and will not perform that role for Nintendo.

Did Wii Sports drive the install base of the Wii? Hell yeah. What about Wii Fit? Oh yes. And NSMB Wii? You betcha. But Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 certainly didn’t. Skyward Sword didn’t. Metroid: Other M didn’t.

What is driving the install base of the Wii U? NSMB U has an extremely high attach rate to the system and has sold consistently. So we can say that is driving it in some fashion. Nintendo Land? Doesn’t seem like it. Zombie U? LOL no. The Wonderful 101? Hell no. With games like Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, there appears to be overlap of the type of gamers it is attracting between it and NSMB U which means the console won’t get much momentum. Wind Waker HD and Pikmin 3 did squat for the momentum. It was essentially money wasted (maybe not for Wind Waker HD as that had to have been very cheap to put out). Is Mario Kart 8 going to increase momentum for the Wii U? We will see. Mario Kart Wii did good for the Wii. Will Smash Brothers create momentum for the Wii U? I don’t think it will too much by judging by Brawl’s performance. I think Wii U has attracted gamers who like platformers and Gamecube-esque games. The next big momentum game will be something non-platformer and non-Gamecube-esque. I’m extremely curious to see how Splatoon (which is a shooter) will perform and how it will increase momentum.

If the game is a First Party Title (Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft) and the game does NOT increase sales momentum of the hardware, then the game is a FAILURE. First party titles are not to sell themselves but to sell the hardware. Consoles do not sell because of the hardware but due to the software. As the install base grows, the more third party titles appear. The console company makes money off of licensing from the third party titles. The ‘sales success’ of a First Party Title and a Third Party Title have two very different contexts.



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