News Article

Icon Games Breaks WiiWare Sales Figures Silence

Posted by James Newton

Dev speaks out

All developers who sign up to work on Nintendo's download services have to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that forbids them from discussing sales numbers for their own games, among other things. However, British studio Icon Games has revealed sales figures for its WiiWare titles.

The company's biggest-seller is Family Games, which has sold 14,439 units since release around one year ago, while Soccer Bashi sits on just over 2,500 sales in around the same period of time.

Soccer Bashi — 3rd Dec 2010 (EU)/10th Jan 2011 (NA) — 2,512
Arcade Sports — 14th June 2010 (NA)/23rd July 2010 (EU) — 11,282
Family Games — 13th December 2010 (NA)/14th January 2011 (EU) — 14,439
Stunt Cars — 14th December 2009 (NA)/8th January 2010 (EU) — 12,577
TOTAL: 40,810

As a point of comparison, the company's PSP release Bashi Blocks — a remixed version of Soccer Bashi — has shifted 83,595 copies, though Icon's Richard Hill-Whittall acknowledges many of the big numbers were helped by free promotions; Bashi Blocks was free to PSN Plus members for a time last year.

[via icongames.com]

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User Comments (50)

Unca_LzStaff

#1

Unca_Lz said:

So wait, they're including free versions as well? That biases the data quite a bit :O

Radixxs

#3

Radixxs said:

Lol, cool I guess. It's not like these are the greatest games on the service, but hey.

XCWarrior

#4

XCWarrior said:

Free copies or not, those are some crappy numbers. Nintendo must do better promoting the eshop on the Wii U.

And honestly should do promotions on the Wii Shop still now that they are actully doing crap with Club Nintendo.

Shworange

#6

Shworange said:

I would be interested in seeing sales data from actual good wiiware games like Moro heroez. Want to sell more games, don't make crap!

SKTTR

#8

SKTTR said:

Poor Icon Games. Really unfortunate.
I have Stunt Cars but there's no other game I really want.

Of course with Arkanoid Plus! and Block Breaker Deluxe released on WiiWare earlier there was no need for Soccer Bashi except for those 2.500 hardcore blockbreaker fans. That might explain the low sales.

As for Arcade Sports, the 4 games included here were released earlier on Wii or WiiWare before. I already had CueSports: Snooker vs Billiard (which has online and Mii support) and I have Bowling on Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort.

So, that leaves Family Games for me. Maybe, one day?

Neram

#9

Neram said:

I think better support from Nintendo and games that are worth purchasing from Developers are what's needed to increase WiiWare sales. Nobody in their right mind wants to purchase mediocre or downright bad games by accident, especially not from a crappy digital distribution setup at prices that are outlandish. WiiWare had promise but failed overall, in my opinion anyway. Here's to hoping lessons have been learned going into the Wii U!

Omega

#11

Omega said:

Huh? They have signed a non-disclosure agreement and despite that they are revealing sales data. What now? Reggie comes after them and eats them alive?

theblackdragonAdmin

#12

theblackdragon said:

@Omega: Given what looks to be their experience with developing for Nintendo platforms in general, there's probably a good chance they don't really care if they're ever allowed to develop for them again, lol. Probably all Nintendo can do is blacklist them.

Omega

#13

Omega said:

...there's probably a good chance they don't really care if they're ever allowed to develop for them again...
This is good. Less inferior games on WiiWare.
Probably all Nintendo can do is blacklist them.
This is sad. Poor Reggie must starve.

NintendoMike

#16

NintendoMike said:

"@Omega: Given what looks to be their experience with developing for Nintendo platforms in general, there's probably a good chance they don't really care if they're ever allowed to develop for them again, lol. Probably all Nintendo can do is blacklist them."

They can also sue for breach of contract for violating a non-disclosure agreement. This might get real interesting... Hope it doesn't come to that though.

Terra

#17

Terra said:

Ah Soccer Bashi, I remember the outrage over my review like it was yesterday :P

Fuzzy

#19

Fuzzy said:

It's interesting to see these figures. Would be good to know what the highlest/lowest selling games are and what amount.

But if I were a developer I wouldn't want to be burning my bridges.

Haha @Terra. I remember that. Just having a look at the review now, I thought I remembered the discussion being longer. Is it just me or did some comments get deleted?

brandonbwii

#20

brandonbwii said:

I knew Icon was a bit sour. I wonder if they'll ever work on Nintendo platforms again. One of their biggest complaint's was the inability to drop prices. I wonder if Nintendo will allow that in the future for eShop and Wii U.

TrueWiiMaster

#21

TrueWiiMaster said:

If announcing sales numbers is against his contract with Nintendo, I'm kinda hoping Nintendo exercises their right to legal action. It may seem trivial, but they knew what they signed, or should have known anyway, and no matter how frustrated they are with sales, they shouldn't go against it. And honestly, based on what they've released, it would be no loss for them to close down. I tried Soccer Bashi, and as I recall it was pretty much a complete rip-off of Arkanoid.

Saying PSN is better than WiiWare because a mediocre game given away for free had more downloads than its permanently priced counterpart on the Wii is ridiculous. People with Playstation plus download just about every free game they get, even if they don't know what it is. Those downloads don't amount to interest in the game.

Though this has made me curious... How many copies have gems like World of Goo, Nyxquest, and Swords and Soldiers sold on Wiiware? I doubt they sell as poorly as this guy's weak offerings...

BJQ1972

#22

BJQ1972 said:

So because you don't like the games they develop and Nintendo have done absolutely NOTHING to promote the WiiWare service and any of its games the developer should shut down, and the people who work there should lose their jobs?

nick_gc

#23

nick_gc said:

It's almost as if Nintendo knew it wouldn't do well so wanted to hide the fact. I would love to know how 3DS eShop compares in sales even in this early stage. I would love to know how many sales games like Lost Winds or those Square Enix FF town sim type games sold. Games like that are ones you'd expect to have shifted big numbers.

Rebel81

#24

Rebel81 said:

I didn't buy a WiiWare or VC game for Wii over a year, because the system is broken.

First the memory of the Wii is too small, mine is already full and the sd solution sucks.

Second there are no weekly sales, I got Sonic 4 on Xbox 360 for less then 5 euro in HD whil the WiiWare release was still 15 euro.

JimLad

#25

JimLad said:

Not the most credible studio to reflect how the service is doing as a whole, but without regular trials (from the beginning) and price drops, and a lack of incentive for people to actually connect their Wiis to the internet, I don't see even the best games doing all that well.
By contrast Xbox Live Arcade has several games that have broken the million mark.
Nintendo better step up with the WiiU, and I mean a lot more than they did with 3DS.

stromboli

#26

stromboli said:

For every whiner that says that they didn't sell enough or that they couldn't develop because of the size limit, or any lame excuse, there is a Bit Trip, there is a Nyxquest, there is a Swords & Soldiers, there is an Art of Balance, there is a World of Goo, there is a MotoHeroz, there is a LostWind, there is a Rage of the Gladiator, and so on. Masterpieces on the Wii are plenty and successful. You just have to be talented.

Lack of weekly sales is a problem, but why does "the sd solution sucks"? it's not. It provides infinite capacity (you can easily switch SD cards) and the Wii will never be "full". This is the main advantage of SD cards. This is miles ahead of some really crappy stuff like iphones, where you have a limited space, and you can't use SD cards, and you actually have to pay (a lot) more if you wanted more space. But then again, Apple has a lot of these crappy greedy problems, and get away with it, with no complaints from the media masses.

Kirk

#27

Kirk said:

Christ that's bad.

I bet it's the case for a lot of developers, on many of the download platforms, but of course we only get to hear about the great success stories from companies like Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Apple etc so it seems like there's a great eco-system for everyone out there.

@stromboli

I wonder if you actually bothered to look across ALL the developers releasing games on these download services, even just WiiWare, if you'd find a different story to what you imagine to be the case.

I bet for every 1 that is a decent success there is probably a hundred that really aren't doing to well, many of whom probably have pretty decent games out there that certainly deserve a few more than 14,000 sales after all the time and money they have invested.

I can understand when crap games don't do very well, which is apparently what most of Icon's games are (although I bet even they still took a considerable amount of money and time to make), but what about the good-great games that haven't sold that well...

ejamer

#28

ejamer said:

Hard to know what to make of these numbers.

No offence meant, but Icon Games hasn't produced anything on WiiWare that was highly anticipated by gamers or well-received by reviewers. They certainly haven't produced anything that I'm interested in buying... and I'm an easy mark for WiiWare titles.

Are weak sales indicative of nothing more than quality (or at least a bad reputation) in this case? Probably not. I suspect that many good/great games also ended up selling very poorly... but without a larger sample size there is no way to be sure.

It seems to me that WiiWare was best used by small developers to gain experience with the Wii console and establish a Nintendo-friendly resume — maybe not a highly profitable endeavor, but one that might open other doors for the future.

RichIconNew

#29

RichIconNew said:

@Linkstrikesback - you're actually happy we won't earn anything from any of the Bashi sales? Wow!

@SandMan - I am sure it comes as little suprise to say we don't have any future WiiWare plans.

@brandonbwii - I would love to be able to make Soccer Bashi free now on WiiWare, we are not ever going to earn anything from it so I'd like to see it free. Unfortunately we can't, but we are making a free PC version this month, and it is free on iPhone too.

I think from our perspective we were really sad at how poor Bashi was received as we really put a lot of love into it and tried to add plenty of extra features to ensure longevity like the editor, custom tournaments, co-op, Boss battles, etc...

It was a simple Arkanoid clone at heart, and in hindsight that was a mistake.

Family Games we were pleased with above all our other WiiWare titles, and I think it was the most suitable for the platform out of the titles we released.

I would certainly argue with anyone who believes we created shovelware - I know how hard we worked on all those titles. At the end of the day we made some mistakes, but we most definately tried as hard as we could and have learnt a lot from our WiiWare experiences.

Looking back our time on WiiWare was painful, but we have moved on now. As mentioned, we have tried to learn as much as possible from the experience and are trying to make better and better games.

I am personally very sorry if anyone bought any of our games and hated it - and if they did, drop me an email and I'll try and make it up to you.

ps. @NL - don't ban me, I promise not to say anything bad - was just keen to get involved :) I handled the whole reviews thing wrongly at the time, I think I was just emotionally fried back then.

antdickensAdmin

#30

antdickens said:

@RichIconNew thanks for commenting in such a constructive manner. I think you'll find a lot of Nintendo enthusiasts share your pain when it comes to WiiWare — we know it's not an easy ride for small developers. As a site we're quite critical of the service in general, which is not solely aimed at developers.

Nintendo fans are also used to such highly polished first party games; it's sometimes this that makes WiiWare a painful experience, especially when comparing prices/quality to that of iOS games.

We also understand that dev teams more often than not put a lot of love/effort into games, however that doesn't always translate into a quality product, nor should it be taken into consideration when rating a game. "A for effort" doesn't apply here.

Anyway, we wish you all the best with future platforms and hope that Nintendo's service (in the future) may give you a better platform for success!

Hardy83

#33

Hardy83 said:

While pathetically low, and my stance on Nintendo doing a horrible job of promoting their digital content (or even letting people know what's coming out for that matter)

IN Nintendo's defense, Icons sales for IOS and PSP aren't much different save for Bashi Blocks.

Also the WiiWare sales is roughly $275k in profit minus whatever Nintendo's cut is. If that means anything to anyone.
To me, in a year, that's not bad, but it could clearly be better.

RichIconNew

#35

RichIconNew said:

@antdickens "Nintendo fans are also used to such highly polished first party games; it's sometimes this that makes WiiWare a painful experience, especially when comparing prices/quality to that of iOS games."

Absolutely. As a small developer I think you really have to get the style and approach right,and think of it as a unique platform. For a company our size I think that would mean to exclusively focus on say WiiWare rather than try cross platform as we did. The BIT.TRIP guys got it, as do Shin'en - and they have produced some brilliant stuff. MotoHeroz is awesome too, and kudos to RedLynx who got the style perfect first time. I imagine their sales will be significantly higher than ours, and fair play - their teams have much better game designers than me.

Our biggest struggle were the thresholds and how long it took to get money, we were more or less bankrupt when we got our first payment, and we never really recouped the investment we put into the titles.

The Minis saved us, and the regular monthly payments were critical for us.

There are some gems on WiiWare, but the risk is great for small teams and unless your cash-flow is super solid, it is very very hard.

RichIconNew

#36

RichIconNew said:

@Hardy83 Also the WiiWare sales is roughly $275k in profit minus whatever Nintendo's cut is. If that means anything to anyone.

If I recall the devs get 65% - but it was actually two years-ish work as we developed Stunt Cars for about a year before it was released.

I've never added up the total revenue - but using your example 65% of $275k is $178 - which in Sterling is approx. £114,000. Over two years that equates to £57,000p/a which covers about 1.5 people per year. On top of that the age ratings costs were a few thousand per title, the e-manual translations a few hundred per title.

So it was a big loss as we had a team of 3 to 4 people full-time, plus contractors. That's why I never worked it out as I was a bit too scared to read the numbers :)

MegaAdam

#37

MegaAdam said:

RichIconNew: Thanks for posting here constructively, and thanks for the insight.

I originally thought Nintendo's thresholds were fair, but I have come to realize that the massive install base of the Wii isn't buying very much WiiWare. Not having a storage solution for years, an unimpressive and slow store, unrealistic pricing, and lack of promotion have really hampered WiiWare's success. And punishing developers by not paying them at all unless they meet a sales threshold is exceedingly harsh. I think Nintendo should pay out after a game has been available for a year, even if the sales threshold isn't met.

I don't know if their policies have changed at all for the 3DS eShop, but it certainly seems that overall the eShop is doing much better business. Hopefully things continue to improve with the Wii U.

Hawker

#38

Hawker said:

@XCWarrior: the "crappy" numbers as you put it could also be because they were all crappy games, notice not 1 game got a rating higher then a 4 on this site?

I'm willing to bet the people on the psp who downloaded it for free felt ripped off at that price even.

stompy

#39

stompy said:

Wiiware is hard, the sales just aren't there, the QA is really tough (in a slightly pointless way) and the payment terms terrible. Saying that we are still going to release at least one more Wiiware title!

TrueWiiMaster

#40

TrueWiiMaster said:

@BJQ1972
Actually, I never said the company should close because I don't like their games. What I said was that Nintendo should be after them for breach of contract, and if, as a result, they closed, it wouldn't be a huge loss based on what they've currently released.

Also, though you say Nintendo's lack of promotions was the main reason these games undersold, that same factor did not keep other games on the service from selling well (World of Goo, Nyxquest, Lost Winds, etc.). They suffered from the same lack of advertising and were hits. Why? Because they were worth buying. Before blaming Nintendo, this company should blame themselves, learn something from their mistakes, and make better games in the future.

TrueWiiMaster

#44

TrueWiiMaster said:

@James
Though I have no official sales figures, World of Goo has been in the top 20 sellers of WiiWare since launch (maybe skipping some weeks; I haven't watched it). While confirming that, I also went to the Nintendo channel, where I noticed that, when looking at a game, you can see the total hours it was played and the average amount per player. By dividing the total by the average, you get the number of buyers as recorded by Nintendo channel. I'm sure this isn't an all-encompassing number (it might only refer to those who recommend it on the channel for all I know) but it should still represent a minimum number of purchases.

According to this method, the games sold roughly the following:
World of Goo: 106,000
Nyxquest: 10,000
Lostwinds: 59,000

I was surprised by how low Nyxquest was, but the other two seem fairly high, especially since World of Goo is one of the most expensive games available. Again, I should point out that these should be viewed as minimums, as they are not necessarily totals.

If I made some mistake somewhere, like making incorrect assumptions, please let me know.

TrueWiiMaster

#45

TrueWiiMaster said:

After just checking, it seems many games don't give the information I mentioned earlier, including all of the games from Icon.

I'm thinking this might be a low minimum, because, after looking them up, Bit Trip Beat comes to just under 19,000 and Bit Trip Runner comes to just over 10,000. I can't prove these aren't at least close to the total sales, but I would think these games sold quite a few more than this, not because of their high quality, but because Gaijin games has always seemed to like working with Nintendo, or at least I've never heard them complain about not making enough from their WiiWare offerings. Based on the 600 point price tag of Bit Trip Beat, those sales would only amount to under $60,000. After Nintendo took their cut, plus expenses from making the game, taxes, and etc., they would have only made a rather paltry sum. An experience like that wouldn't inspire the company to make 5 more titles for WiiWare, would it? (plus lilt line)

Again, this is still mostly conjecture, but it seems to make sense.

James

#46

James said:

@TrueWiiMaster I see what you're driving at, and those are interesting statistics (I hadn't thought to look up the Nintendo Channel stats), but I think it only includes those who have played the game for over one hour, which potentially misses out a lot of sales too.

It's frustrating there's no hard and fast numbers solution here, for sure.

Tethers

#48

Tethers said:

@James & "but I think it only includes those who have played the game for over one hour, which potentially misses out a lot of sales too"

This should not be the case, because the thing with the one hour was, that then you have the chance to rate the game, not that this is the moment when the system takes you into the database.

SomeBitTripFan

#50

SomeBitTripFan said:

Anyone who wishes bad on Icon is insane. If anyone has made any game they aren't perfect. Gaijin has experience. Icon is new. Let Icon grow and discover its skill in creating games.

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