News Article

Talking Point: Could The Conduit Be in for a Rough Ride at Retail?

Posted by Damien McFerran

Game designer predicts poor sales performance for high-profile FPS

With past ‘hardcore’ failures like No More Heroes, House of Dead: Overkill and (more recently) Madworld, the Wii is getting a reputation for being a casual gamers’ machine first and foremost.

This certainly doesn’t bode well for Sega’s upcoming FPS title The Conduit. Developer High Voltage Software has gone to great lengths to stress that this is a game for ‘proper gamers’, not the soccer moms introduced to the Wii by the allure of Wii Sports and Wii Fit.

However, does The Conduit have what it takes to break the trend of ‘core’ experiences selling poorly on Nintendo’s platform?

Writing for Gamastura, games designer Ian Fisch (previously of Gameloft, Pyro Studios, and Nerjyzed Entertainment) makes the compelling point that although many dedicated gamers own a Wii, they also own a PS3 and Xbox 360, which makes it more difficult for ‘hardcore’ Wii titles to get the attention they deserve:

Assuming hardcore gamers own the Wii, it seems odd that hardcore games on the platform are not selling better. Perhaps the answer is that hardcore gamers do not exist in a vacuum. Hardcore gamers who own the Wii are also likely to own either a PS3, an Xbox360, or a suped-up PC.

When a hardcore Wii game is released, it doesn't only compete against other Wii games; it competes against all games. So MadWorld isn't just competing against Disaster: Day of Crisis. It's competing against Ninja Gaiden 2 and Grand Theft Auto 4. Suddenly it doesn’t stand out quite as much.

It’s a valid argument, and with this knowledge in mind, Fisch seems skeptical of The Conduit’s chances at retail:

The game has been viewed as a symbol of hope for hardcore Wii developers for a long time now…yet when compared to Gears of War 2, it looks like a heavyweight bout between Evander Hollyfield and Tiger Woods.

The Conduit aims to be a very competent shooter, but one that wouldn’t look out of place on the original Xbox. It doesn't seem to bring anything new to the table - at least nothing that can be communicated through video or screenshots…by virtue of being on the Wii, it has to overcome a huge graphical disadvantage as well as the disadvantage of having to utilize the Wii’s lackluster online matchmaking system. Sad as it is, I can't think of any reason why a hardcore gamer would choose to buy The Conduit instead of its competition.

However, before you pick up your pitchforks and set out in the direction of Fisch’s house in an angry mob, it’s worth noting that it’s not all doom and gloom from his perspective:

So is it possible for a hardcore game to be a sales success on Wii? I would say yes…one advantage the Wii has is that anything on the Wii that aims for the hardcore audience will get more press coverage than it would if it were launching on another console. If a game like The Conduit were to be developed for Xbox360, it would probably be unknown. By virtue of being on the Wii, it will probably grace a few magazine covers.

Another advantage is that a Wii game can get great reviews with lower-budget graphics since reviewers tend to compare Wii games to other Wii games. There is a real opportunity for launching a successful hardcore game on the Wii. It just takes the right idea.

It should be noted that Fisch himself is merely putting this forward as a ‘theory’ and there’s every chance that The Conduit could sell like cakes that are exceedingly hot, but you have to admit his point of view does carry a tremendous amount of weight – especially when you consider the high-profile ‘hardcore’ casualties that the Wii has experienced so far.

And of course let’s not forget that retail sales often have no bearing whatsoever on the overall quality of the game…


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User Comments (49)



antdickens said:

Sadly there is probably some stuff I agree with when it comes to the Conduit, it probably would look out of place in the current selection of FPS on other systems. What irks me is games like MadWorld not selling well, a vastly creative and interesting title that you wont find on other systems and it still can't perform at retail, utter shame.



cr00mz said:

of course it will sell bad this is the wii people! its sad to say it but only nintendo games are succesfull



MickEiA said:

hopefully wii gamers will buy this thus getting more FPS shooters for the wii JUST OVER 2 MONTHS TO GO



professorlayton said:

While I sure hope that the game gets the sales it deserves, I won't be picking it up. To me, The Conduit is just another generic FPS with some special visuals. With that being said, I'd love to be proven wrong.



zane said:

If the reviews are good it will sell good in the long run. we are all awaiting the reviews.And Kevin Sorbo is the badguy



dagreenone said:

"With past ‘hardcore’ failures like No More Heroes, House of Dead: Overkill and (more recently) Madworld."

haha, what? If these games are failures, then I don't want to know what success looks like. What are they wanting Wii Play numbers??



KDR_11k said:

Madworld, HotD and NMH didn't fail, they performed according to expectations. The budgets were set with these in mind. Additionally all three are niche games.

I wouldn't ask a game designer for business advice, that's not his department. Especially not on Gamasutra which sometimes gives me the impression of feeling hurt by "casual" games destroying the "games are art" motion and desperatly attempts to bend anything into a story about how the game=art movement will ultimately succeed as the unenlightened plebs get a clue.

Overall I wouldn't conclude from Madworld to The Conduit, MW was a niche game with no real purpose while TC is a mainstream game with the purpose of bringing proper FPS gameplay to the Wii, something that's so far only been done by budget games.



Damo said:

If you think 40,000 for HotD: Overkill and 66,000 for Madworld are figures that Sega is happy with then you really should pass me some of whatever you're smoking.

Those figures are terrible, no matter how Sega tries to deny it.



flatspikes said:

Can I simply ask what constitutes a failure, it all seems a little subjective to me...? Did these games make a loss at retail?



Wrenski said:

"If you think 40,000 for HotD: Overkill and 66,000 for Madworld are figures that Sega is happy with then you really should pass me some of whatever you're smoking."

Logical reasoning and the ability to think that Sega, being a long-standing company from long before the 'YOU MUST SELL MILLIONS TO BE A SUCCESS' crap started, can successfully plan out a niche title to perform well in it's niche while still reaping a profit? Can you smoke that? I had no idea, it must be quite a head trip.

Must be what Atlus smokes to manage to be an extremely successful company despite putting out maybe one or two games that could be considered 'successes' in a conventional wisdom sense.

"Can I simply ask what constitutes a failure, it all seems a little subjective to me...? Did these games make a loss at retail?"

Pffft like profit matters! You're a failure if you don't break a million! Geeze where were YOU during the past couple gens of 'big budget blockbuster bull'?

No No! They're in denial! Don't you see! We internet nerds actually know MORE than Sega does! It's a conspiracy! Because developers NEVER express distaste when a game genuinely does bad! Any claims that Capcom was disappointed in the sales of Zack & Wiki is filth and lies.



Kirk said:

Every single one of those games was niche in so many ways and regardless they have all done about as well as the developers and publishers thought they would so why do we keep banging on about them being failures.

The Conduit, out of all those games, has by far the highest chance of selling in sizable numbers. If it's actually good and lives up to the hype.

I'm not worried about this game selling badly to be honest.


Sega actually released statements ^^^ saying these games were performing as they thought they would and that they are indeed happy with the sales so far.



RoyOfTheRovers said:

I think the guy is right, The Conduit will probably be a fantastic game when compared to the other FPS'ers on the Wii, but compared to CoD, Killzone 2 and Left 4 Dead on the 360/PS3 it will be a far poorer option in terms of graphics, game modes, online etc.

This sadly is a problem with all of the recent 3rd party hardcore offerings for the Wii, which have not sold as well as similarly hyped offerings on other formats. To be honest I am part of the problem as getting a Wii 18 months ago and remembering how much I enjoyed games turned me back into a hardcore gamer, to the point that I bought myself a 360 a month ago as I felt I was missing out on so much. As a result, I bought CoD: WaW and Street Fighter IV for the 360 rather than Madworld (although I did snag HOTD for £18 in Tesco Easter weekend!)

One thing the Wii has in its favour with regards to FPS'ers is the IR, which gives a far more realistic feel of shooting a gun than you can get with analog sticks. Sadly, a lot of hardcore gamers have grown up using conventional control pads and therefore have not embraced the Wiimote for this purpose.



Digiki said:

Wasn't HotD some sort of port though?

As long as it gets good review scores I think it'll sell well, Onslaught has been doing great on WW, so there are a lot of FPS fans with a Wii. It's also got a fair amount of hype. (Although to be fair Mad World did too, on the flipside, I'm sure plenty of shallow gamers were put off by the art style, and then huge amounts put off by how violent it is.



KDR_11k said:

If you think 40,000 for HotD: Overkill and 66,000 for Madworld are figures that Sega is happy with then you really should pass me some of whatever you're smoking.

I'm inclined to believe them over you since it's their money. The games didn't magically explode yet so they can still sell more and since Sega have published several games on the Wii they probably know what to expect from these numbers.



ejamer said:

Oddly, I really don't care how The Conduit sells. It looks like a great game and should be fun to play. As long as there are a few people to play against online now and then, it doesn't matter to me if it sells 5,000,000 or 5,000 copies.

Regarding how The Conduit is different than a generic FPS on XBox: it's all about control scheme. I greatly prefer using the pointer to aim instead of dual-analogs... of course, that improved control isn't a factor for gamers who just watch trailers or videos before dismissing the title. Graphics and actual gameplay elements probably won't evolve the genre, but they don't have to.



Adam said:

I don't think any of the games Conduit was compared to were fair comparisons. No More Heroes? That would have done at least as poorly on any other system. Most gamers aren't looking for that bizarre stuff, and the game play wasn't exactly riveting. House of the Dead was a port and didn't review well. And Mad World had a much more experimental style than most gamers will go for, like No More Heroes.

Conduit is playing it safe. It's all territory that's been done before; their aim is just to do it better. I agree that it'd be nothing special on other systems, but it isn't on other systems. It's on the Wii. There are a lot of people looking forward to it.

Personally, I think lack of local multiplayer will hurt it, though. People who are already interested will mostly get it anyway, but if you could play with friends, they'd become interested in it, too, and maybe pick up a copy for themselves later, perhaps even getting Conduit to that magical "evergreen" status. Just idle speculation though.

Publishers generally don't like to admit when their games are doing poorly. It's probably just "a business lie."



marktheshark said:

@10, Damo, & maybe all who agree with him

You do realize that not all games have the same budget, & that not all developers have the same standards on how much a game needs to sell to get them a decent profit, right? Not all games have to sell 1 million copies to sell well.
Basically common sense, but lower budget games typically don't need to sell as well as higher budget games, right?

Last, but not least, I do realize that some games on the Wii don't sell well, Deadly Creatures is an example.



Adam said:

The point for this article isn't whether they turned a profit but whether they moved a lot of units. These smaller titles are being compared not because they are of the same scope as Conduit but because they supposedly (and I stress supposedly, because I disagree with the article here) appeal to the same audience.

High Voltage has commented that put all their resources into this game despite not having a publisher for most of the development cycle. I'm pretty sure they want to sell better than the afforementioned titles. If a game with this much hype can't perform above mediocre sales, there's little hope for the genre on Wii.



deadly_by_design said:

There's enough hype, I think it'll do fine. If not right away, then in the long run. (assuming it isn't crap, which has yet to be seen)



Ian_Daemon said:

"HotD: Overkill" is fantastic. I love on-rails shooters. They're arcade-y fun. I played a lot of "Lethal Enforcers" back-in-the-day (on the Genesis & Sega CD). Other than the dialogue being extremely not-my-style, I continue to enjoy "Overkill".



Jack_Package said:

I bought NMH, HotD & MadWorld.... I don't plan to buy Conduit though... Sci-Fi (yawn)
I just hope that Sega are telling the truth when they say they are satisfied with sales.... and keep on publishing quality games.



Hardy83 said:

Though I completely agree with they guy they intervied, the Wii is an odd machine.
Nintendo has stated that games have a longer lifespan then on the other systems, which is true, but this is also their way of saying don't yell as us because we $%^*#$ up the market for our system.

I hope Conduit is a success, I really do, the developers had to put up with so much considering their talent.
I also REALLY applaud Sega for going out on a limb and trying to get these games to the Wii. They are the only ones that are really trying to get hardcore games in, maybe THQ, but that was just one.



vherub said:

I agree with Digiki, Onslaught has been doing very well on wiiware as an indicator.
I will get the conduit, probably not day 1 or even month 1, unless the reviews are dreadful.



SmaMan said:

I dunno about hype. I haven't really heard much about this game outside of this site.

I think that if this game doesn't sell well, it might explode onto the scene later. It might just be a little ahead of its time. It might be kind of like Earthbound. It didn't sell very well at all, but now that time's passed and word's gotten around about it, we can't stop heckling Nintendo to release it! (Wow did I just compare Earthbound to an FPS?)



Adam said:

Heh, it's just a shooter. It looks good, but I don't know that you could say it's ahead of it's time.



Gizmo said:

The Conduit = mainstream
MadWorld = absolute not mainstream

=> You can't compare these games in term of sales, or make predictions because of MadWorld...



NeoNight said:

They never mentioned anything about the controls! The only reason to get a shooter on the wii is for the controls! Then again if you have a good-great pc you can get good controls for a shooter on it too. In any case I don't expect The Conduit to sell very well either, since I don't think five year old, their grand parents or parents would like a shooting game. There isn't that many "hardcore" players on the wii that would pick up the game, so because of that there isn't going to be alot of sells. :/



KDR_11k said:

Oh come on, you can't expect a game designer to know that controls are important .



Sean_Aaron said:

As others have said HoTD: Overkill (which isn't a port), No More Heroes and Madworld are all niche titles and none of them would necessarily have found large audiences on any other console.

The Conduit has the advantage of being fairly unique on the Wii (only things that come close are the Metroid Prime games and Onslaught) and a more mainstream offering, plus more hyped so I expect it to do better than those other three games (of which one sold well enough to get a sequel, if not the others).

Big advantage over PS/360 FPSes? Not having gimped controls. I have no doubt this will be a playable game; I'm hopeful it's good enough to be a re-playable game!



Chunky_Droid said:

With SEGA behind it, it should do reasonably well, provided it gets solid reviews. If someone else was behind MadWorld and didn't drive the advertising like SEGA does then it would've flopped for sure (I don't consider 66,000 copies a flop).



SupermarketZombies said:

Interesting points and the guy was polite and passive about it all. I might buy Conduit at launch to support Sega a bit more (I also bought Madworld at launch )



MrPanic said:

I buying this game on the release. I'm a fan of fps' on Wii since MoH:H2, they play way more awesome then console controls. I'm buying this mostly for the multiplayer though, most fps' on the wii only have around three modes, this one seems to have a decent multiplayer.



maka said:

"One thing the Wii has in its favour with regards to FPS'ers is the IR, which gives a far more realistic feel of shooting a gun than you can get with analog sticks. Sadly, a lot of hardcore gamers have grown up using conventional control pads and therefore have not embraced the Wiimote for this purpose."

This is very sad... After playing Metroid Prime on the Wii, I just can't see how anyone would want to play a FPS with any other type of controls...



Twilight_Crow said:

I really hope The Conduit sales well, the hole game concept sounds pretty good to me, and the controls like no others give it a plus (even thou I'm ok with traditional controls), the Wii needs a game like this, but I probably won't buy it since most fps give me motion sickness, still, I'll rent it or something and if it doesn't, I'll get it for sure.




Ya, IR controls is something people seem to forget about. When I played MP3, I never went back t MP or MP2 because I coudnt stand the controls. NPC could fix that though. But that is why I think an FPS on wii would be better than the same version on PS# or XBOX, the controls.



Kid_A said:

He's got some good points, but I still have a problem with people saying hardcore games can't sell on Wii. If you mean bloody, gory games and shooters then yes, thats pretty true. But to me hardcore just means fun and challenging, and there lots of hardcore games that sell well if you go by that definition. I think that the Conduit will sell well if they advertise it, but we also need to remember that we're living in a recession--NOTHING is selling well



Objection said:

" So MadWorld isn't just competing against Disaster: Day of Crisis." In order for that to happen, Disaster would have to be in the US! hint hint (I know they're both in PAL.) I plan to buy Conduit, as it looks quite good.



Cowmansr said:

I'm not sure how many people like me are out there, but if there are a lot, then I could explain [part of] the problem faced by MadWorld and No More Heroes.

I'm kind of an ex-hardcore gamer. I was never the hardest of the hardcore, but I played many of big games. Now, I've got a wife and kids, so I have to be more careful about what I buy, since I have no opportunity to play games when they aren't watching, and they would have a problem with extra violent games. Thus, you might find me playing something like Metroid Prime 3, but you won't find me playing MadWorld, No More Heroes, or Resident Evil.

I'm not sure, but it looks like The Conduit might be acceptable.

Luckily, many of the Wii's best games, like Super Mario Galaxy, are family friendly.



GN0LAUM said:

I'll tell you right now what the Conduit has going for it that trumps any other FPS on the competing consoles:
Wiimote controls.

I always hated using analog sticks on FPS after playing with a mouse on my PC. I think Goldeneye and Perfect Dark were exceptions because they were so fickin' amazing and you had no choice-- you HAD to play them on the N64 if you wanted a piece of the awesomeness.

Now that you have a choice between a mouse, wiiremote and the joysticks, I choose the former two, 100% of the time. I can't stand the joystick controls because they are sluggish and unresponsive by comparison. If I want to shoot something I bloody well want to point and click.



maka said:

I agree with Kid_A. The whole hardcore gaming = violence/mature themes is pretty stupid. I think those supposedly "mature" games appeal more to teenagers than adults anyway... I don't mind violence, but what I want is good gameplay and a challenge.

Just give Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Bros Brawl or Metroid Prime 3 to a "casual" gamer and see how far they get...



Viral said:

Umm...House of the Dead and Madworld were failures? I feel like epic failure now is that's the case. Whoever thought that those games were awful, they should be shot.



CobraCommander said:

1. Ian Fish has no Idea!
2. If No more Heroes and HotD are failures ,why they get a sequel?
3. There IS a big differenz between The Conduit and Xbox FPS . Its the Motion Control! The WII IS the best Console for First Person Shooters.
4. Why should be the Conduit no Success ? Call of Duty and Umbrella Chronicles are Million Sellers on Wii. I Think Conduit will sales more than a Million Copys.

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