On internet forums across the globe we are constantly bombarded with stories and opinions on how the Wii is for casual gamers and casual gamers don’t buy anything but casual games. In reality, does this really stand up to scrutiny?
What I intend to do is dispel the myth. Of course, just like proof that god doesn’t exist won’t change a religious person’s faith, nor will anything I put forward here change the minds of Wii haters, a religion in itself.
Truth be known, I can’t prove anything as we all know the expression, “lies, damn lies and statistics.” I am going to be using statistics. The trouble with statistics is that we have to make assumptions and conclusions based on the figures. This is no different. You can’t really argue with the statistics, but you can argue against my assumptions and conclusions.
In order to explain where I am going, I will explain what I am doing. I am directly comparing the sales of Gamecube games to those of the same game (or equivalent) on the Wii. Based on this I will show that the casual gamer directed at the Wii is just plain wrong. I didn’t go in with my conclusion first. I first studied the data and the conclusion followed.
We all know the Gamecube was placed 3 in the last generation sales. It finished on about 22 million units. The assumption I am placing is that the majority of those owners were Nintendo hardcore fans, not casuals. They bought it mainly for the big Nintendo franchises - Zelda, Mario, Starfox, Metroid, Pikmin et cetera. Those were the games that sold the most.
We all know that the Wii is way ahead in 1 place in this generation sales. It currently has more than 50 million units in the world market. The internet and in some places, media assumption, is that the majority of Wii owners are casual gamers - kids and old people. They only buy games like Wii Fit, Wii Music and play games like WiiPlay and Wii Sports, such as Carnival Games.
Assumption on Wii versus Gamecube owners.
Assuming that the vast majority of Gamecube owners continued are hardcore Nintendo fans continued their love and bought a Wii, we can conclude that perhaps 20 million Wii owners were Gamecube owners. That means there are about 30 million new Nintendo owners. Where did they come from? Perhaps some old NES, SNES or N64 owners came back? Xbox and PS2 owners suddenly decided that Nintendo was for them?
More likely, completely new gamers entered the market? A mixture of children and old people if you believe the internet. People taken in by the clever Nintendo mass marketing? Not very bright or discerning either it seems. They are ruining the industry and they don’t buy proper games, just those mini-game compilations we are told.
If this is so, then it is appropriate to look at the comparative sales between systems and see what they show. A point to remember, which will be mentioned for many of the games, is the wii sales are not complete. We know that many Nintendo games are evergreens and they will continue selling right up until the end.
An additional assumption to keep in mind, is that those people that bought the game on the Gamecube are the ones most likely to buy the Wii version of the game. Sales don’t just double because there are twice as many Wii consoles. If they didn’t buy the Gamecube game, they are unlikely to buy the Wii version. Remember, those additional 30 million owners are not supposed to buy traditional games.
Sales data is sourced form VGChartz.com
Nintendo 1st Party .
Mario Kart: sales
Nearly 9 million new people bought Mario Kart. That is massive. One in three new gamers bought this.
Super Smash Bros
An additional 1.5 million new gamers bought a game that can only be described as a pretty hardcore game.
GC  2.47m
Total sales for 4 games on the Gamecube amounted to 7.7 million units. One single version of the game on the Wii is just 1.2 million short. Even the best Gamecube version is 4 million copies short.
Whilst Super Mario Galaxy hasn’t been the success many of has hoped for, it is still currently 1.7 million copies ahead of Super Mario Sunshine. This is one game is one that will continue to grow and should easily top 10 million units.
Not the big success Nintendo would hope for, but still, 700,000 new gamers bought into the series.
Nearly half a million extra football players.
A rare failure. Still, it wasn't far off.
I added this for a particular reason. These are the same games. If you bought the game on the Gamecube, it is unlikely that you will buy the Wii version. Yet, in a short space of time, the New Play version is almost half the sales of the Gamecube game. The updated game will likely exceed the original. It is safe to assume that most of these units are sold to the newcomers.
Sales of the Wii Animal Crossing have been disappointing, relatively speaking. It has matched the Gamecube and will exceed it. The cycnic will state that they are the same game and many Gamecube owners would not get the new one. It isn’t unreasonable to assume that the majority of buyers are new.
Our beloved Zelda, the series so revered. 700,000 new owners, keeping in mind that another 1.5 million bought the Gamecube version.
They don’t come much more quirky or bizarrely Japanese in gaming than WarioWare. It is hard to imagine a casual gamer wanting to play this, but yet, 1.8 million new owners did.
On the surface, a disappointment. 1.3 million down on Metroid Prime. However, Metroid Prime 2 was down 1.5 million, so Metroid Prime 3 took the game back up, with an increase of 200,000.
A big disappointment. Perhaps they read the reviews. I conclude that with home console games, Nintendo are testing the patience of Pokemon fans and this is the inevitable conclusion.
This is just plain sad for me, as a massive fan of the series. It was one hell of a hardcore game and not for the faint hearted. Yet, despite this, about a quarter of a million new people bought into it.
Like Fire Emblem, this saddens me. Another great game series, that gets no love. It looks cutesy, but it is still a war game and managed to attract another 130,000 new gamers.
The increases in sales from the Gamecube have been quite good and massive in the case of Mario Kart. Theses are new gamers and they bought an additional 20+ million additional games, just on these titles. That isn’t bad for so called casual gamers who only play Wii Sports and mini game compilations.
These newcomers are without a doubt growing the entire game sales base. The statistics do not lie. They are not all casual gamers. Sure some are, but after they invest a large sum on the system, many of them will look for something else to try. They will likely see the advertisements or ask friends and yes, they will buy the same games that many of you, like me, love and have played for years. Plus, when they see games advertised in department stores, they are likely to be tempted. It should have been obvious from the beginning that this would happen, but the sales deniers have persisited.
But what of 3 Party? There are not a lot, but let’s look at what we can.
Resident Evil 4
Despite the 1.7 million owners of the same game from the Gamecube, and that fails to mention the near 3 million who bought it later on the inferior PS2, another 1.55 million gamers came out and bought the same game for the Wii. Where did they come from? I suggest that many of them are these newcomers who would not normally buy such a hardcore game. Only so many gamers would duplicate from the Gamecube to the Wii.
Like most series, game sales normally drop with each new version. This is no different. It held up well though. Hard to draw any conclusions from this.
Wii  0.56m  0.93m  0.84m
The last version of the Gamecube is well down on all the Wii versions, by half in the last two occasions and as much as half a million units.
Tales of Symphonia
So far, a big disappointment. It hasn’t been released in a PAL region yet, so the comparison is still to early to show. It still seems unlikely to match it.
Wii [ToQ] 0.34m
Like Tales of Symphonia, PAL versions haven’t happened yet, but I would expect what is a vastly inferior Wii version to match and probably beat the Gamecube version.
Due to the fact that most 3 party games are not just updated versions of last generation or sequels, comparisons are hard to make. Madden certainly shows a significant boost. I believe that a significant number of more traditional, non casual games are being bought by the newcomers.
The Wii casual gamer is a myth. The statistics dispel it. So many more games are being sold above what they achieved on the Gamecube and this is entirely attributable to the new Nintendo gamers entering the market and buying the games we have always been buying.
Of course, all this will mean squat to the Wii haters as it does not support their long held prejudice and hatred. It is just denial.