News Article

WiiWare Sales Targets: More Details Emerge

Posted by Damien McFerran

Solid figures quoted by WiiWare developer

We recently heard about Nintendo’s sales targets for WiiWare games, and it didn’t make particularly pretty reading if you’re a developer.

In a new twist, Kotaku has apparently been contacted by a developer “familiar with the subject” and they’ve given what appear to be fairly solid numbers:

North America

If game is over 16MB - 6,000 units
If game is under 16MB - 4,000 units


If game is over 16MB - 3,000 units
If game is under 16MB - 2,000 units

Once those goals are met, the developer starts seeing a return (which is based upon every sale, not just those made once the target is reached). And that return is split 65/35 between the developers/Nintendo.

Games have two years to hit their mark. If they haven't hit it by then, sorry, no dice.

Interesting that games are divided according to size, which seems pretty arbitrary. On the bright side, though, that profit split is a healthy one, particularly if a small team is able to create a cheap game that beats the sales targets.

Those numbers certainly don't seem that bad, but a few indie WiiWare devs that we've been speaking to have told us that to date they have only made around 50% of the sales needed - which paints a pretty dire picture of the overall health of the WiiWare market.


From the web

User Comments (33)



MisterSmith said:

This isn't that bad. There's something of a risk factor, but it looks like it'll pay off. I have no idea what the numbers are, but those don't seem entirely unattainable.



Starwolf_UK said:

I guess that explains why so many games are around the 300 blocks mark. Though if my maths is correct 128 blocks is the 16MB point.

I wouldn't be surprised if a few developers pumped up the block count on purpose...though I have a strange feeling the block count is also part of the games cost. As in 500 point games must be less than 150 blocks or something like that...



ReZon said:

With as many Wiis that are out there, those are not unreasonable goals.



MarkyVigoroth said:


Also, Europe gets half of Nintendo? (Then again, North America has more area than Europe...)



thewiirocks said:

65/35? I wonder if Nintendo updated their contracts? Previously I heard of developers seeing much higher returns. BTW, I crunched some numbers on the minimum earnings for US sales. Thought you guys might find these interesting.

>16MB (1000US) - $39,000
<16MB (1000US) - $26,000

>16MB (800US) - $31,200
<16MB (800US) - $20,800

>16MB (800US) - $31,200
<16MB (800US) - $20,800

>16MB (500US) - $19,500
<16MB (500US) - $13,000

That's not a lot of money, any way you cut it. So I would hope that developers are selling a lot more than their minimum. Otherwise we'll be seeing markedly fewer WiiWare games. - Beer Pong was a chart topper. I would be surprised if it hasn't raked in the dough for its publishers.



KDR_11k said:

deadly: I think Beer Pong passed the threshold in the US (considering how long it was on the charts if it didn't there'd be a whole lot of other games that fail and this doesn't sound like failure is very common) though it's questionable in the PAL regions (haven't seen it on any charts there).

I think the dev's cut on XBLA was 60%, goes down to 40% or so if the game gets promoted by MS (promotion is initiated unilaterally by MS and devs reported the reduced cut completely nullified the increased sales so they made as much money during the promotion as outside of it with only MS getting more).

The size-based split may be founded in the expectation that smaller games are simpler and will sell less.

Two years to hit the mark... Well, the service doesn't even exist for one year yet so I guess noone went past the deadline yet.

Who were those devs you talked to? Were their games high in the charts or not so much?



Hardy83 said:

Hard to meet the sales requirements when you DON'T LET THE MARKET the games NINTENDO!

Get rid of the secretive crap? You afraid someones gonna steal the original ideas for the WiiWare games? LOLOLOLOL



vherub said:

nintendo needs to do a better job getting the millions of wii owners into the wii shop. Either allow games to be purchased from, or Or give people a free 100 points for signing up for a weekly wiiware newsletter. Or sticking a wiiware brochure in every box right on top of the system.



PEICanada7 said:

OK this should be a none issue. Its just the press blowing it way out of proportion. If a developer of any size can't manage to sell 6,000 copies, then they deserve not to get paid. If your game is good, and you put some promotion behind it, then it should sell at least 6,000. Hell even terrible shovelware crap sells more then that in a few months.



get2sammyb said:

I'm not impressed with this at all. I appreciate Nintendo have bandwidth costs to cover, and will take their cut, but wouldn't it be more reaonable for a 65/35 share from sale one. I don't understand why they're doing this?



JoshuaJSlone said:

It doesn't seem arbitrary to me that the numbers are divided by size, though the particular single cutoff point at 16 MB does. If Nintendo sells 20,000 copies of my 5 MB game, they've used 100 gigabytes of bandwidth. If Nintendo sells 20,000 copies of my 40 MB game, they've used 800 gigabytes of bandwidth. Makes sense that they'd want a bigger cut of the latter game's early sales to cover the difference.



brandonbwii said:

Well, for those that purchase Wii from now on, there is a pre-installed channel that explains everything about the system, particularly the Wii Shop and what it has to offer. It's just that a lot of us that post on message boards and stuff have had the wii before this became standard.

@ Zephod
My dad is one of them.



Wiiloveit said:

I guess that explains why so many games are around the 300 blocks mark.
What does? The reason that games are around the 300 block mark is because they have a 40mb limit.

Also: Nintendo could at least change the pay to a minimum of 70/30, because that is just too much - especially with Nintendo raking in enough cash as it is.



Starwolf_UK said:

What does? The reason that games are around the 300 block mark is because they have a 40mb limit.
Yeah I suppose there is that . I just I feel that some games are larger than they have to be. It just seems some developers might purposfully make their game over 16MB since the sales target is lower (if you're dealing with a completely new distribution model with no idea how poorly or well your game will do making the game larger makes you more likely to actually get paid).

Though the split seems odd and it makes me think there are some pricing rules/guidelines as in titles less than 16MB can't shouldn't more than a certain amount of points (its easier to sell cheap titles) and titles larger shouldn't cost less than a certain amount. I was going to see if there was any price and blocks correlation but it seems the block info has vanished off the website



KDR_11k said:

BTW, another writeup I read about it said that the anonymous source also stated the threshold is usually reached on the first day or week for most games, a completely different picture from "all games are only half-way there".

The baddest selling games on XBLA for example would reach the treshold.

However, the entirety of XNA would fail the threshold.

It just seems some developers might purposfully make their game over 16MB since the sales target is lower

It's the other way around, larger games have to sell more.



thewiirocks said:

@KDR_11k said... It's the other way around, larger games have to sell more.

I believe Starwolf was referring to a possibly correlation between size and pricing. If Nintendo set the price of <16MB games lower than >16MB games, then it might make sense to make the game larger. That way the game will reach its sales projections in $s faster than if it were smaller. Nintendo's sales floors never come into play.

If that were true, my concern would be intentional bloat. We've seen several games that don't appear to be nearly as optimized as they could have been. Could the pricing be the reason?



KDR_11k said:

Quite a few games with less than 100 blocks sold for 1000 points so I doubt it's only based on the block count, more likely Nintendo simply looks at the game and estimates what it's likely to be worth.



Toddr said:

@ Chicken Brutus "Glengary Glen Ross ftw!"

What? Glen Ross is my brother.



J_K said:

When I first read the title (elsewhere earlier) I was thinking this has to be high from all the whining and guessing going on. But seriously in 2 years you have to depending on territory and size move just 4K/6K or 2K/3K copies? That should be nothing to cross over that if the game even is half way done well. That's 730 days or 104 weeks to move a few thousand copies of a title. If anything, any developer who can't cross that margin in such a long amount of time got what they had coming to them. Yes it does suck you never hear about games coming in advance unless the developer hypes it, but still, that's basically the same with most games that hit the real shelves too.



Toddr said:

@ Chicken Brutus

Huh. You learn something new every day. Did you know that Glenn Ross is one of the world's heaviest strongmen?



Ferret75 said:

This just annoys me because Pong Toss is going to get lots of money, while some games may be good hardcore like games but barely be known about. =



Kriqxz said:

Seriously, if a developer can't push 6000 units in 1 single region, over a span of 2 years, they don't deserve to be paid. Assuming a 1000 point game, 6000 units is only $60 000 in sales. With the 65/35 split that barely covers the cost of 1 single employee.

I find it really odd, especially on this website, that people are actually defending the makers of shovelware...



Adam said:

They don't deserve to get paid!?
That's a bit harsh, especially when the staff of this site contests the games in question aren't all "shovel ware."



Ren said:

the only problem here at all is the failure of Nintendo to advertise their DL services in general. Sales would explode if there were so much as a few commercials on TV or in magazines, or on the friggin Wii box it self. Many people I know who OWN wii's didn't know about DL content at all until I told them myself, it's really not that obvious.

It's a sore disservice to the developers that they neglect it, and it seems they only regard it as secondary to the cash cow that the console itself is. Why?

I can finally agree that indeed online/ and DL content in general (movies/TV/video games) is the future and I think that Nintendo is wrongly dismissing it as secondary to physical media. Obviously their doing well now, but theres no reason to sit on their laurels about it considering the install base they suddenly have, especially since so many people have Wiis that sales are slowing.
They've handily won the console 'war' in terms of profit, it's time to really pump the software content into our homes now, and that means marketing it as well. We're all fanboy sitting ducks now, why won't they take advantage of it?



Gabbo said:

Agreed. I would expect the vast vast majority of wii owners have never downloaded a single game. And even the ones who know the service exists will be hesitant to use it without knowing more about the game before purchasing it.

That's actually not bad money when you consider that the average Wiiware game probably takes a month to develop, rather than a year. Assuming you were working full time. And many developers, I'm sure, do it in their spare time while working on a larger project.



Crunc said:

They need to do the same thing the've done with the DSi - give a free 1000 (or whatever number) of points to you when you connect to the store for the first time (though I'd also give it to anyone who has never bought a WiiWare or VC game). That will get people into the idea of buying games in the download store and I think would lead to a higher percentage of Wii owners buying stuff from the store (not just with the free points.)

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