News Article

WiiWare Market Grows to Nearly $60M USD in 2009

Posted by Trevor Chan

WiiWare sales are projected to overtake that of Virtual Console in the coming year. Games WiiWant? Apparently so

It's interesting to see how both the Virtual Console and WiiWare services have been utilised by today's gamers. The act of acquiring a game via download is something that was previously only common-place in a market like the PC. Now, all three current-generation home consoles have their own take on the download market; each with their own service(s) that have their own characteristics. Since the WiiWare service launched in 2008, it has seen a steady increase in revenue, whereas the Virtual Console has gradually experienced the opposite.

According to an analysis by Forecasting and Analyzing Digital Entertainment, or FADE, WiiWare titles raked in nearly $59 million USD during 2009 in the Western market alone (North/South America, Europe, and Australia), with a 30% jump in revenue compared to the previous year. A service that seems to have more success with third-party developers, with FADE estimating their 10% of the market claiming nearly 70% of the combined download revenue that totals around $125 million USD. The Virtual Console, on the other hand, has suffered its own problems. With periods where it sees no updates in the Wii Shop Channel weekly additions, coupled with the promotion that Nintendo ran where gamers could claim a free NES game if the Internet Channel was purchased prior to going free (which led to an estimated over half a million free giveaways), Virtual Console games took in an estimated $66 million USD but are believed to have dropped 25% in revenue last year.

FADE uses a collection of data gleaned from the Wii Shop Channel rankings, direct user-polls that have been correlated by public statements with private developer-conversations, and general Nintendo Channel usage data that exceeds 5 million submissions on a daily basis. As such, these figures are only an estimation and should not be considered as "concrete sales figures".

Even so, if these numbers are anything to go by, the Virtual Console has a potentially bumpy ride ahead of itself if the roster/frequency of games does not improve. It's a service that currently seems to be paying off for Nintendo anyways; with 76% of the revenue generated by their games, compared to the WiiWare service where only 16% of the total revenue came from their titles. But what's going to happen when the all the old favourites that contemporary gamers want are all released? Or stand a chance of not getting released as they appear on other consoles' download services? FADE predicts that in 2010, Virtual Console games will continue to experience small declines in sales, whereas WiiWare will go from strength to strength; perhaps even overtaking the former in revenue.

We're not knocking the Virtual Console (it's the very genesis of Nintendo Life), but by definition it's a source of old games and as such puts a finite number on how many games are even eligible for release. Although we don't expect all the games to "run out" in the Wii's lifetime, it's relatively limited when compared to the WiiWare service where the quantity of games is — for a lack of a better term — unlimited. Perhaps that's why we sometimes see Nintendo careful not to "over-do" the weekly releases. On the whole, is this perception going to be the root of FADE's forecast coming true?

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User Comments (43)



Slapshot said:

Virtual Console is a great thing, but the games are old and the ones that sold like crazy got there chance to sell like crazy once again. It was revenue on Already Developed Games that just got emulated to a download service. How can they be upset that there games that were only being pirated and sold second hand once again make them money. Most of the great games are already available..... MOST! So its no suprise that multiple titles aren't releasing every week.

Its great to see that WiiWare is finally starting to gain some steam, as we really never knew because Nintendo has been so insanely tight with the numbers for some reason, I really expected it for the worse, not the revenue that is being reported in this article.

Great job Nintendo! ..... and quit whinning about once again making money on games that your were basically becoming pirate emulation fodder and oh yeah......... Flippin release Earthbound already!



Sockapal said:

I still don't understand how all VC games are not simply straight profit, and easy money....



Mark_M said:

Kids today are more likely to be interested in Halo 3 or call of doodie 4 rather than the old games of the Ninendo Entertainment System.



Sonic1994CD said:

WiiWare is borning.I only have ONE game that's Wiiware and that's Defend your Castle.



V8_Ninja said:

Nintendo has to start actually asking companies if they can have their games on the VC instead of waiting for the publishers to come to them if Nintendo wants to combat the the overtaking of WiiWare.



Slapshot said:

I dont understand this VC has to be better than WiiWare war. VC is old games and a literal online library of gamings past and WW is New fresh titles that dont suffer from dated gamplay styles, control issues and in some cases games that have been rehashed so many times its not funny. Im a retro gamer myself but Ill take a new 2D game anyday over playing a old one.



Porky said:

@5: So much has changed since 2008. Its 2010, wiiware has improved; you may enjoy them.



Objection said:

Interesting to finally see some sales numbers, since Ninty is so secretive with things like that.



Kevin said:

WiiWare has a few good games that I play rarely. I'll give it that but there's WAY too much crap on that service. I'd love to see the VC earn that much money but how the kids are nowadays since the majority of Nintendo's fanbase is probably kids I don't see it happening.



Angelic_Lapras_King said:

Also, Wiiware games are mostly new, while most of us have already played whats on the VC.

Either way, Nintendo shouldnt avoid updating it some weeks.



0-Watt said:

Just letting out a BIG disclaimer: FADE is a company also run by VGCharts which pretty much just guesses numbers and fixes if they are wrong.

In short: I don't trust this information.



Hardy83 said:

I'll hold my judgment on this since this data is only an educated guess. It could be off by 10s of millions of dollars.

If it IS close to how much Nintendo's online system earns, I'm curious how successful (or probably unsuccessful) DSiWare is and how the HECK such an outdated and clunky online service rake in so much money. Sure there are some classic that could get a lot of money but most of the games on VC and WiiWare are garbage and if it was successful wouldn't se see more third parties like Square, Konami and Capcom throwing their classic games on there? Like FF games and Metal Gear and what not?



I love VC but is obvious that is more aimed to the Nostalgic and not everyone is THAT nostalgic. WW has more future.

Wiiware started pretty mediocre but since last year, more and more companies are making more interesting experiments which is the real focus of Wiiware: to experiment without risking lots of money.



ocarinaoftime said:

wii ware should feel bad if u ask me ........ nintendo gives 3 wii ware games and one vc game a week ........but yet vc is still out sellin wii ware..... not to mention the weeks when they are no vc games may sound good for wii ware in on sence ..but if u look at it in anther its not much to brag about.....i still say they should treat the services fair....the article states wii ware rise and vc fallin in sales but it dont take a rocket scincest to see that nintendo has realease less vc games to some times no game at all .......



XCWarrior said:

Until Star Fox for the SNES is out on VC, there are classics yet to be seen. Not to mention the FF titles. And Earthbound. And Japanesse imports.

Still, nice to have some download numbers for once.



The_Ink_Pit_Ox said:

Kids these days wouldn't even touch a Wii, because all they care about is playing M games with the latest graphics and no censorship. {sigh}

However, I'm a victim of WiiWare before VC. I downloaded Excite Bike World Rally because the original didn't look all that appealing. I've found it fun, and don't think I'd like the original as much.



Mike1 said:

If Nintendo wants to amke more money with the VC, then here's an idea; RELEASE MORE GAMES PER WEEK!!!



jwl said:

As #23 Mike says, declining VC sales are very much likely due to fewer released games, duh. I can't understand either why VC games don't just flow out, it should be almost only profit. There is almost none development cost, since they already have emulated all the consoles to Wii, so basically it is only down to releasing some ROM-files to the VC service. Re-Writing a small online manual for the menu and other minor adjustments shouldn't be that expensive.

If wiiware is the future then I hope they make more rebirths and classic style games, rather than endless and endless puzzle games. How big can the demand for puzzle games be?



Namo said:

There's lots of VC games that could be released, its just, nobody's doing it. Take Hudson for example. They have over 10 bomberman games they could release: The 5 Super Bomberman games, Panic Bomber W, Bomberman B-Daman for the SNES, and Bomberman 64, The Second Attack, and Bomberman Hero for the N64. And where are they at? Nowhere, because they're taking forever to release the reboots for Bonk and Military Madness (not that I'm complaining).

On top of that, most of the Wiiware games at this point are shovelware at best. I can think of a few titles I've had genuine fun with, like World of Goo, Megaman 9, but I can name many more VC games I've enjoyed more, like Sin and Punishment, Toejam and Earl, etc etc et al.

This is pretty much Nintendo not thinking things through and then bitching about it like idiots. "Derp derp we aren't selling enough VC games, herp derp, wonder why."



Big_A2 said:

Did anyone hear that SMB3 sold 1mil this year on the VC? It just goes to show I guess.



Starwolf_UK said:

I think these guesses are more accurate than VGChartz or at least more trustworthy since they have disclosed how their data is gathered (in the worst case it is as good as we can do). Anyway:
It's a service that currently seems to be paying off for Nintendo anyways; with 76% of the revenue generated by their games, compared to the WiiWare service where only 16% of the total revenue came from their titles
When you take into account 35% commission Nintendo is actually getting this much revenue:
76+(0.35*24)=84.4% of VC
16+(0.35*84)=45.4% of WiiWare

Still don't let the figures fool you it works well for everyone. Still many titles sell less than 10,000 and less than the minimum needed for Nintendo to give out any money.



PhoenixRising said:

Wiiware is improving? How? By offering countless generic puzzle games to appeal to the casual crowd, remakes of VC titles and a plethora of truly over-rated Flash remakes. That's how. Like I've said so many times before, Wiiware really isn't that good outside of a dozen or so titles, whereas the VC largely exhumes quality even if it lacks huge amounts of games that most of us 'less modern' gamers want to play again.

I saw some figures for 2008 and the VC was stomping all over Wiiware which makes me question whether a similar release schedule in 2009 wouldn't have made a complete laughing stock of the Wiiware service. Nintendo obviously decided to cut back on the VC releases to give Wiiware a chance, being a case of "Wait, we've now got three competing DL gaming services for a large proportion of our Nintendo gamers - one has to go!"

Now I'd like to see the VC make a return to form so I can start downloading good games on a regular basis rather than once every couple of months. Maybe Nintendo will come up with the goods and introduce a VC service for the DSi - that way I'll buy one and have four competing services to spread my money over. Nice work Nintendo!



Bass_X0 said:

If Nintendo wants to amke more money with the VC, then here's an idea; RELEASE MORE GAMES PER WEEK!!!

Great. But games need to be rated before released and very few are getting rated. And each publisher is responsible for getting their own games rated, I don't believe Nintendo would go around begging companies to rate their games for release. Looking through the coming soon list of VC games here, there's only four games that are likely to actually come soon in America - Zaxxon, Megaman 4, Rondo of Blood and Final Fantasy II. All the others are either not ESRB rated or were a long time ago that they would have dropped off Nintendo's radar. Despite KoF95 being rated, I'm not expecting it any time soon.



PhoenixRising said:

Yeah, that's another thing that sucks about the VC. Ratings. Microsoft have gone a completely different route with their new arcade application in that only the application itself is ESRB rated - not the individual games. It only needs to get re-rated when a higher rated game is added, making the process of adding new games to the service much quicker. Proves once again that Nintendo failed to properly think out what they were doing (outside of catering for casual gamers) I'd use the adage "Only fools rush in where angels fear to tread" but y'know - Nintendo can do no wrong... (and all that crap)

By the way, the title of the article is mis-leading. Initially I thought it just related to the US with the $60m but it counts for the entire Western market (Europe and Australia included) Might want to change it so people don't get their hopes up too much, considering the total number of Wiis sold in that market alone - nearly 58 million - equates to $1 per sale. That's either a damning indictment of Nintendo's failure to encourage people to go online, or it's perfect reflection of how poor most Wiiware really is (and how badly Nintendo has treated the VC service and community)



JimLad said:

Can someone fill me in on the fantastic games they have yet to release?
(Nintendo this is)
It was my understanding (I may be wrong) that most of the most desirable first party stuff has been released to VC.

As for WiiWare, it pretty much reflects the Wii's retail library.
There are some gems in there that are great value for money, but a lot of crap bogging it down. I'd like Nintendo to make more contributions to it, but it would probably distract from the 3rd parties even more when Mario games start dominating it.
They should bring back the demo service and make it a requirement to all WiiWare developers, and give console owners some kind of incentive to connect. (1000 free points?)



suburban_sensei said:

I am with #23. Mike, on this one. The WiiWare is going to outsell the VC, regardless, because the number of VC games every week is dwindling. I for one would spend 10 dollars on a VC game, before I would a WiiWare title, the only WW titles I have our the AAA ones (Mega Man 9, NyxQuest, LostWinds, etc).



dizzy_boy said:

considering that the total games for each individual console on the VC run into the hundreds. i really don`t see the problem of getting more games out onto the service.
i understand that there are many factors that stop alot of games being released, such as licensing issues, some devolpers not being in business anymore, and such. but with that said, i really cant see what`s slowing down the VC releases.
where wiiware is concerned, how many dev`s are actualy pushing their ideas from download to full disk games? infact, i don`t really see it happening.



paulcmnt said:

gamers could claim a free NES game if the Internet Channel was purchased prior to going free (which led to an estimated over half a million free giveaways)

... which were not actually giveaways...

Anyway, I'm very happy WiiWare is doing good and especially that it is dominated by third-parties.



Bass_X0 said:

I'd assume that the points we spent on the Internet Channel went to the company of the free game we downloaded.



EdEN said:

@70% of those posting on this report:

Adventure Island: The Beginning
Art Style: CUBELLO
Art Style: ORBIENT
Art Style: ROTOHEX
Eduardo the Samurai Toaster
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King
Final Fantasy IV: The After Years
NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits
LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias
Mega Man 9
Rubik's Puzzle Galaxy: RUSH
Shootanto: Evolutionary Mayhem
Space Invaders Get Even
Star Soldier R
Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episodes 1-5
Swords & Soldiers
Tales of Monkey Island Chapters 1-5
Tiki Towers
Toki Tori
World of Goo

At least another 10 games not listed since this post is getting too long as is... plus all those to be released during the year (Cave Story, for example).

Go play those and stop bitching about no good Wiiware games. It's the "there are no good games on Wii" stupidity all over again...



Guybrush_Threepwood said:

Good news for Nintendo, bad news for me since I don't care about WiiWare at all. I would prefer the 2-3 Virtual Console releases per week we got before WiiWare launch. Nowadays Europeans should be happy if Nintendo releases 2 VC-games per month. The success of WiiWare means the death of Virtual Console.

PS: In the first two years I did turn on my Wii every friday checking the new Virtual Console releases. The last time I used my Wii is now more than two months ago. I fear next time will be the release date of Metroid: Other M if Super Mario Kart (or another VC-highlight) doesn't show up until then.



Namo said:

Ah, nostalgia. Checking the Wii every monday to see the new releases...

Pfft, I don't even DO that anymore. What's the point? Nearly every week is a disappointment now.

Not in March though. March has some genuinely awesome Wiiware titles coming out soon. And I shall call them squishy and they shall be mine and they shall be my squishies.



Sylverstone said:

Here's a tip: release the VC games fans are clamoring for. EarthBound/Mother could sell like crazy on VC but would decrease the value of actual carts.

I like WiiWare's potential. I only have one WiiWare game (Water Warfare), but it's real fun. The other games are really good as well. If they bring back more demos, the sales would go up more, IMO.

I played the one for Pokemon Rumble and it peaked my interest. Didn't buy it though, had little bit of Points.

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