News Article

Wii U Review Score Average Is Modest, At Best

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Doesn't necessarily tell the whole story

Now that the Wii U and its launch library of games has been in the wild for almost a month, in North America at least, a general impression of the critical reaction to these titles and the console is starting to emerge. It's not a complete picture, of course, but gaming enthusiasts can start to see the trends take shape, and the sense may be that the assessment of Nintendo's latest hasn't necessarily been a bed of rose petals.

We've seen a number of comments from the community throughout Nintendo Life, for example, sharing an instinct that review scores of launch games have generally been on the low side. It's a winding path with no end to analyse the reasons for this in any detail, beyond a simple acknowledgement that every games writer and their site is giving an opinion, so if that opinion is negative then that's just the reality. What can be done is an assessment of whether the statistics reinforce the idea that Wii U's early games aren't attracting particularly high review scores; some stat-busting by Gamasutra does show Wii U's performance as below par.

Naturally any assessment of review scores is reliant on aggregators such as Metacritic and GameRankings, and neither provides a flawless solution, nor is the Wii U launch review list finalised. Some caveats are included, such as assessment of the Nintendo 64 covering the whole of 1996 — only two titles were actually available on U.S. launch day — different consoles having wildly different numbers of games available on day one, and only retail releases being included. Analysis of this kind of thing is, as the author of the original article admits, filled with compromise and inconsistency that can influence the overall results.

Still, as the graphs in the gallery below show (click to enlarge), Wii U's launch library has had a relatively poor reception from critics, currently only sitting above Wii and the original Sony PlayStation; the GameCube proudly occupies top spot. Of course, the fact that the list of launch titles is so long, exceeded only by the day one offerings on PlayStation 2, arguably make it tougher for the overall collection to hit a high score. While there are some titles that have been broadly praised, there'll be others that are a mixed bag, as well as some lesser-known releases that have possibly been panned across the board; the length of Wii U's review score bar also shows the wide-range of scores that have been awarded.

Although not a conclusive definition of games writer's assessments of the Wii U launch library, this research gives us some indication of the critical reaction so far. The results for the new system's games aren't necessarily terrible, but they're not anything to write home about, either.


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User Comments (63)



chewytapeworm said:

There's going to be so many games on the way that'll live long in the memory anyway. No need to panic!



Rapadash6 said:

The standards by which games are reviewed have changed dramatically over the years, so this comparrison isn't really fair.



WanderingPB said:

Its very amusing to read how much hostile negativity there is for the Wii U…shows me that nintendo must being doing something right!

True everyones entitled to their opinions so while the little kids continue chit chatting in the school yard i shall be playing my Wii U…Nintendo plays chess not checkers but im sure every naysayer will understand further down the road



Whopper744 said:

More release titles doesn't always mean more quality (I don't meant against the Wii U, I'm just sayin). I've liked what I've played mostly on the Wii U so far (besides bugs popping up here and there) and that's all I care about...oh, and go N64!



Burning_Spear said:

A great many of these titles are ports. It's not fair to judge the console on games that were designed for other consoles.

As for the console itself, an incomplete grade is probably most appropriate. Let's face it: We need to see what the GamePad can do when used properly and whether it will in fact be used properly. But for me, I'm loving it!



blinder2 said:

nintendo life will you please go away there is absulutly nothing wrong with the Wii U its amazing,nothing is perfect but a slow operating system ect,this and others can be fixed with system updates , i no some of the ported games could be better but hay there ports,you only have to read the Miiveres comments on the games that are being played to no this,in my opoin thats all that counts NOT YOU NINTENDO LIFE,i suggest calling yourself something els.And there are plenty of games coming,i love the new rayman legands DEMO is so good,and better stil a new twist to the series.Enjoy all



ThomasBW84 said:

@blinder2 I appreciate that you think this article is bashing Wii U, so I think you're missing its point. Gamasutra has researched info to compare the average launch game review scores against other systems. It's reporting factually, not an opinion on Wii U's merits.

I've seen plenty of debate with some feeling that, in their view, game writers had scored Wii U games low. Here are some stats that maybe reinforce that, though as always they're never perfect.

For our part, we've been positive about Wii U when we feel it's right, and less so with any issues. It's all opinion, but there's nothing wrong with considering all sides of an argument, rather than saying everything's brilliant and stopping at that.



Rod64 said:

I just need Pikmin 3 and Wii Fit U.
Oh, and Little Inferno of course!!



tsm7 said:

So, Nintendo's best selling home console had the lowest launch software scores and it's worst selling home console had the highest launch software scores.



ToxorAxiom said:

This year ZombiU is my keeper and CoD:BO2 is satisfying my craving for competitive shooters. Next year Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate looks like a promising time-sink and if the Rayman Legends demo is any indication of quality platforming, I'll be smiling into 2013. =)



Haxonberik said:

Meh, just a bunch of worthless data. I already have my personal diagnosis of the Wii U, and it is partly ending like the Wii, with low third party support amd inferior graphics, but still being the best on-couch multiplayer and having the best first party games around.



rjejr said:

An average of launch window game scores is one weird stat. I think you need to divide the avg. score by the # of games and then take it's LOG or inverse relation to system price or something. Maybe the mean would be a better indicator.

Is the Gamecube avg so high b/c of Star Wars? I'm still waiting for a Wii U game as impressive as that one was when it announced. Heck I'ld settle for something nutty like Seaman. Ports are good to have, Mario is Mario, and Nintendo Land may be a fun collection of mini-games, but where's the defining Wii U game? Right now the Wii U seems to be defined by Miiverse more than any stand-out game.



MAB said:

Stuff tends to always seem bad when coloured graphs and pie charts are concerned... MMMmmm! coloured pie



Ichiban said:

No offence to the author or any readers, but who gives a rats tail? People are way too hung up on review scores these days.



Dreamcaster-X said:

The PS2 had a terrible launch lineup!!! One of the few systems I skipped out on for the first several months. How does that rank higher than Wii U which pretty much has solid games in almost every category except RPG, although Darksiders 2 could be considered an action RPG?? I haven't had this much fun & choices with games since the Dreamcast launch in 99. Alot of the games may be retreads but not everyone has gotten around to playing them and that doesn't make them any less stellar.



-KwB- said:

Man, the damn reviewers and damn no job analysts are ruining it for everybody !! The sad thing is, there is NO WAY to stop them, they'll just keep on downgrading Nintendo !



Auracle said:

Fascinating data. I, for one, am loving my Wii U. I will probably have to be surgically removed from my Wii U once I get Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed and Rayman Legends, though.



ocarinaoftime said:

Wii u is awsome... Im glad i got mine...i cant wait to get sonic and allstars racing transformed for wii u ....the demo rocked...



Will-75 said:

The Wii U is awesome to me reports and articles of this nature are useless banter and total BS !



WesCash said:

I'm a sucker for graphs and statistics so this stuff is pretty interesting to me!



Slapshot said:

I saw about 40 Wii U units sitting on the shelf at Best Buy tonight. It doesn't matter how you swing it, analyse numbers or pull facts/opinions - it's been a long time since a home console has released and you could easily find one within the first month of its release.

Maybe it's a lack of interest in Wii U? Maybe it's that dedicated gaming consoles are losing interest as a whole? We'll know more over the next year, but I'm personally just not seeing much hype over the Wii U.

Wii and PS3 both had lines to play demo units for months after release at my local Best Buy (not to mention Guitar Hero/Rock Band demo units), but tonight there was only one kid toying around with the Wii U demo unit and not one other person even stood by watching. Again, I'm shocked and confused by the lack of interest.

Personally, I think it is a bit of both. Wii U has caused confusion since it's initial unveiling - people still think it's an add-on for the Wii! Also, it was first a core gaming console to "bring back the hardcore," yet now it's a "family gaming console" that err... one person can use the tablet with at a time. I doubt that people that don't follow gaming news on a daily basis even understand what Wii U is. My friends (mostly guys over the age of 25) that play games, but don't keep up with the news have no interest in Wii U, because of the "Wii" in its name alone. They bought Wiis for their children and they automatically think that "Wii" U is for kids too. Even more confusion is created when commercials portray people playing Wii U with Wiimotes.

Wii U has a broken identity and one that Nintendo themselves have created.



cdude said:

These charts are stupid because niether accounts for the emergence of the uninformed stupidity and proffessional fanboyism that we've seen come out due to the advent of things like the blogosphere, myspace, twitter and facebook. To say nothing of the fact that anyone can operate a website that submits reviews saying anything.

A more interesting chart would be one that measured the ratio of quality titles packed with content against featureless cash ins that offer nothing acrossed all consoles.

I dont necessarilly mean 'reviewed well' when i say quality either. I mean games that had a lot of fun to offer for a decent amount of time that werent broken or poorly thought out. The kind of stuff kids wouldnt regret spending their allowance on.

I bet, acrossed all consoles from every generation the ratio would be something like 0.5 good games for every 200 bad.



Brotagonist said:

The launch titles seemed kinda meh for me. Lots of good ones, but most of theme like Sonic Transformed and ME3 are stuff that are available on systems I already own. I'm unlikely to get a Wii U till Pikmin 3, plus I'm saving for a PS Vita right now. Persona 4 Golden is sitting in my closet and I'm itching to play it!



McGruber said:

I actually think the launch games are great for Wii U compared to other consoles I've had. That being said I'm not keen on playing sequels to games I never got to play much of if at all. Soo I'm waiting on that Lego and Pikmin games!



snax007 said:

Those numbers and charts doesn't include portable systems. Vita had a larger (30+ titles) and better (in my opinion) launch line-up.



snax007 said:

And I'm amazed how people can claim Wii U had anything that resembles a good or great launch line-up. To me, it was very poor. Nintendo Land and NSMB were ok titles while ZombiU seemed rushed and severely flawed. The rest was either sloppy ports or not worth mentioning. Only 3DS had a worse line-up.
A shame Rayman Legends was held back.



rambosdad said:

Had to be at work for 5am. Sat up till 1 am last night playing co-op on metroid blast. Lots of negativity around, but for me it's the most I've felt like a twelve year old since I was a twelve year old.



tickling said:

Also it should be noted that 2 games which will get 90 + in terms of rating slipped in 2013 to avoid the crowded launch day. The games where Pikmin and Rayman. Stats dont show the whole picture and while the day 1 patch did not help a lot of the gaming press are coming round to the wiiu and the features it has.



BJQ1972 said:

I've noticed that recently review scores do tend to be migrating downwards across the board, apart from iOS apps. If anybody looked on metacritic over the last year or so they would typically see AAA titles around the 80-90 mark where several years ago, they would have averaged 90+.

Personally, I put it down to the fact that anybody with a PC can start a website, and call themselves a games reviewer.



defrb said:

I'm not concerned, i see a lot of good games comming for my wiiu.
Wiiu is the best thing that ever happened to gaming =)



kdognumba1 said:

I think the biggest issue here is a lot of the games are ports of games that have been out for a while. This isn't to say that they're bad but critics generally are harder on ports then they are on new releases, especially if the new releases are new IP. Thing is, there will always the comparison to other versions or previous entrees into a series when reviewing games, even if that's not the intention.

With that said, when I look at this line up, even being a multi console owner, this is one REALLY strong launch line up, regardless of what the critics think. The system launched with CoD, Mario, Nintendoland, ZombiU (one of the few remaining legit survival horror games), Just Dance, Madden, Fifa, Mass Effect, Ninja Gaiden (the superior version by a long shot), Tekken, Darksiders, Batman, Scribblenauts, Epic Mickey, Assassins Creed, and many MANY other games. It's one of the strongest launches, ever, regardless of the critic bashing games for being slightly worse versions.



Lobster said:

Something interesting, that I've noticed with games, is a lot of times the ones that review badly, well, suck, and the ones that review well aren't memorable (some exceptions of course!). But the ones where the scores are all over the place, the ones that are divisive, are the ones that are remembered, because they did something unique or innovative, instead of copying a formula everybody knows will work. I wonder if the same applies to consoles?



Daz-brum said:

What a load of rubbish i went to japan for the Playstaion2 launch traveled every day to the shops and on my last day got a PS2 and three games and god was they sub a list games, compared ti say the N64 games at launch so what is all this crap about Mario WiiU & Sega all star racing being sub games have these people played the games?.. We all wantes a 3d world Mario well we didnt get one move on and enjoy what we do. Oh ant Nintendoland is great too....



yobucky said:

But the stats do actually reveal something else that isn't pointed out in the article. The PS 3 had a lot less launch day games (15 less from what I can read, which means Wii U had double the launch day games) and is only marginally above the Wii U in terms of average score. So to put a positive spin it shows that even having more ports and rush job releases the Wii U still managed to stay on track with the fan boy favourite. And it's more likely that the limited PS3 releases would be more on the alleged "high quality" side to show off the new system, whereas wii U already has a few shovelware titles dragging it down (looking at you "ESPN Sports Connection"). And if you look at gamerankings which takes into account the download titles as well, there are already 17 titles above 75% which for the first month of a console is pretty good, not many others I've seen have this many games above that score after only a month.

Pretty much any statistics can be bent to say whatever the hell you want. Who cares? I'll still buy a wii U and by the end of it's life span it is going to have more awesome games then I could actually finish properly anyhow. Gamers are like whiny little kids sometimes. And the thing about stats is they are averages, so you could have 9 games with a score of 85, but that one game with a score of 30 will drop the average to 79. Does that mean everything sucked? Nope, just that one game did.

Sidennote : I am pleased to see the cube tops the list, I've always maintained that this is my favourite console of all time, more games that I finished to 100% and enjoyed completely than any other.



SanderEvers said:

@Slapshot But still everytime I'm at a store that's selling WiiU's I see people buying them. So why is there so much stock available?

Well, it's because Nintendo is making sure that there is enough stock available. With rapid restocks (of a smaller amount of units) they've created an almost constant flow of new consoles.

I see stores that have outsold the WiiU having a bunch of new consoles on the next day.

@Article: The average review scores are really, really worthless. Why? There are about 1000 times more review sites these days than there were when the N64 launched, and 100 times more than when the GC launched. So what tells us this? Well? Nothing.



ThomasBW84 said:

Points about why the statistics give anything but definitive proof of anything are absolutely right, though that was made pretty clear here and in the source article. These are just indicators that provide some food for thought, which they clearly have!

One misconception to correct is that anyone with a PC can set up a blog and skewer statistics like the these. The first bit is true but not necessarily the second. I believe you have to apply to be included on Metacritic, and I imagine they assess your record, level of readership etc before they include your scores. The numbers of applicable sites are probably higher now than ever, though, so I totally agree with that.

Just to reiterate an earlier point, most here are arguing one side with acknowledgement of other arguments, which is great. That said, some are opting for complete dismissal and "Wii U is awesome and I'm sick of people saying otherwise", and I don't think ignoring any negatives is the right idea.

You can be a Nintendo fan without blindly loving everything it does, and having a questioning fan-base is probably better for the company than the alternative. It's telling that a message clarifying the 18-game download restrictions was posted on the European Wii U eShop after all of the debate started online.



Phle said:

I think the launch games for the Wii U are quite good. I really like the 3 games I have (Nintendo Land, ZombiU and Darksiders II) and there are several games I look forward too. With so many different games available, there should be something for everyone. If someone wants to say that the Wii U doesn't have any good launch games, just do it (^_^) A lot of those who owns a Wii U will disagree. But people are free to think whatever they want.



arrmixer said:

well for one all this data should be taken with a grain of salt... there are two many confounding and lurking variables to really get any real conclusion if you are looking for one...
In addition, a lot of mathematical transformations may be implemented but for what when the data itself is most probably not accurately collected in the first place...
Anyways, using the median as an indicator of the data's center would be a better choice at least you won't have to worry about the extreme scores like everybody is complaining about...



MAB said:

@Phle Right on sister the general consensus these days all points to nobody really caring about review scores anyway (5 rubber chickens out of 10, 27 beer cans chugged from a carton of 30) people that read into this sort of BS obviously need to get off their computers and look for one of those lives in the great big real world



arrmixer said:

Personally I love my product, I had to save money little by little just to get a wii u at launch...
And for the first time in a long time especially since I'm just a wii owner... I have to choose which game I want to buy.. If I could "make it rain" with dough I would just buy sonic all stars, ACIII, Batman, and Mass Effect... but I can't... so that is a good thing for nintendo....very bad thing for me



SKTTR said:

It's just that titles like Darksiders 2, Batman Arkham City, Assassin's Creed 3, Mass Effect 3, Black Ops 2, get 10/10 and 9/10 scores on PS3 and Xbox360 review sites, but 8/10 and 7/10 when reviewed on Wii U - even though the Wii U versions are not worse in any way. Seems like at the start of this generation scores are generally lower so that there's enough room to have a score for even better games in the following 5-6 years.



Slapshot said:

@ThomasBW84 Yes, you do indeed have to qualify to be on Metacritic. There are several parameters that have to met for them to even consider your site to be listed on their site and they do not allow any random Joe with a blog to be part of their aggregate scores.

@SanderEvers I do agree with you that Nintendo is doing a good job of restocking shelves with Wii U units, but they're are in no way in the demand that the Wii and PS3 were at their respective releases - I sold my first Wii the following holiday season at Christmas when they were completely wiped out once again (A YEAR LATER!) for $500 USD. Wii U is sadly in no way in this same type of demand and it's barely been a months since it released.



AntiGuy said:

Meh... why get it now if games like Zombi U and Nintendo Land were given mediocre reviews... and I honestly couldn't care less about the crappy New Super Mario series.... I'm going to wait until a 3D Mario or SSB4 gets released.....



Emaan said:

It makes sense. The Wii U had much more launch games than most other systems before it. Obviously that effects the average of scores. Yes, its a mixed bag of different experiences. Yes, it's not the best launch ever. However, its a pretty good one at that. Just be excited for Wii U based on what's to come. We have lots to look forward to.



WanderingPB said:

Some people and gamesites are biased. I believe we should take the positive and the negative into consideration without blindly feeling a need to stand behind Nintendo but then let the product speak for itself. It seems that a good number of people are reviewing the Wii U from a negative perspective off the back and allowing any negativity whether big or small to overshadow its positive features.

People want to complain about the loading times from games and apps of the Wii U yet PS3 and 360 have their own share of loading times but its okay because we dont need to mention the others cause we're talking about nintendo?

Wii U has some great launch titles but its not the games people were expecting so the Wii U is off to a bad start? No other console had these many launch games but shhhhh we're talking about nintendo not them.

The gamepad is gimmicky because i love pressing the pause button. Though if sony or microsoft came out with this it would be amazing but its nintendo so its gimmicky??

slow CPU but large GPU it must be horrible. What about the PS3 cell and how most developers called it trash but shhhhhh we're talkin about nintendo.

yellow light of death or red ring of death…quiet i like the fact that i bought my PS3 and 360 at least three times dont mention it cuz we're talking about nintendo.

Time will tell about the Wii U and its possibilities are endless because i truly believe nintendo is playing chess and like the iOS to the iOS 6 we're in for a ride these next few years. All these "stats" should be taken with a grain of salt as mentioned by others because regardless im enjoying my Wii U my pnly problem is that i dont have time to play all the games i bought for it…guess i'll have to call in sick from work and just catch up. I cant wait to see what nintendo is going to do next



Fafulec said:

Me greedy, you can see 40 Wii U's at your market, I can see none of Wii U at any internet/real store here in Poland (40 million country), only some units overpriced (some by 1/4) at local ebay-like website. And people buy them. And I also have bought one for my son for Christmas with price more than retail, because biggest internet local gamestore was not sure if they get any units and when. Why so much doom? My point of view is quite different, but could be quite minor for "big" US market. Whole unit feels like magic to me, maybe I am not so into graphics, but more gameplay, which is rare in most of current titles. Playing simple NSMB2 on Wii with my wife and kid together was my best summer time in gaming ever. That's why I think Nintendo would not fail. Unless "one finger" 0.99$ toilet app tablet users would ruin everything. And sorry for my language.



Slapshot said:

@Fafulec No need to be sorry for your language, you write very well in English.

I've stated many times here, both in my comments and some of the Roundtables that I took part in here at NL that Nintendo has their own "magic" - I agree with you 100% on this. I'm don't do the "doom and gloom" nonsense at all, I'm just stating that there is indeed a lack interest in Wii U here in the US and it can be seen by the fact that consoles are sitting on shelves a mere month after its release. I'm in no way saying that it's a bad console at all, because I very well know that it's a fantastic console that's well worth its asking price - I just tell things just as I see them, seeing how I don't play the bias game. I have my preferences, but I don't have a bias.

The one thing that I would like you to take a look at is this comment: "Unless "one finger" 0.99$ toilet app tablet users would ruin everything."

A few months ago, I would pretty much have agreed with you, but that was before iOS 6 and I invested in the new 4th Generation iPad. Mate, tablet games are getting up to console quality very quickly. Yes, there are a ton of trash titles for a mere dollar, but there are games that cost in the $5-10 USD range that are absolutely fantastic titles that offer up a full immersion gaming experience, but on a device that isn't a dedicated gaming console. But, while your (currently) paying less for your games on iOS, the cost for these tablets is very expensive - I paid $699 for mine, so for many people that's an big issue.

Just don't keep a blind eye on the tablet market. I show people games on my iPad and every time they're like, "What?! I didn't know that those things could do that?!"

Keep on having fun with your family on Wii U - that's what it's all about!



Henmii said:

Personally I think the Wii u made a pretty decent start! The Wii launch was littered with shovelware, and thus the games scored pretty low! But the Wii u did launch with some good, playable ports (from what I have heard Assasin's creed 3, Darksiders 2 and the Batman game do not really suffer from nasty problems). And in the graphics department they are as good, or slightly less then on other consoles! As for the "original" titles: Mario, Zombi u, and I guess even Nintendo land did pretty good! And then there was the nice start with the e-shop, there are already a bunch of interesting games!

So to put it short: If the Wii launch would be a 5,5 or 6, the Wii u launch is a 7! And from here it only can become better!!



Fafulec said:

Ah regarding tablets notes, you are probably right, I have access only to Android systems where gaming products are not so good quality I guess. But I just can not get "immerse gaming" feeling without physical buttons. Tower Defense, Angry Birds-like games, of course. But arcade/action/mmo pvp where fast accurate response is required? I know there are BT pad-like devices, but that are minority of users that use them I guess. Also how to play with friends with one tablet? Tablets are dedicated to single user sitting zombie-like alone. Is it possible to connect 5 controllers to IPAD and play with the family? An Ipad for every player maybe? A bit expensive... At this moment Nintendo is the only one encouraging so much to play with real humans (not via net!) at your side which is great .For family.



Slapshot said:

@Fafulec You're absolutely right that Wii U is the perfect console for family gaming and that same statement goes for all of Nintendo's home consoles too.

I've actually put over ten hours this week into a online FPS title on the iPad for a review and it works beautifully with touch controls, and has all of the gameplay features found in Black Ops II. It takes a developer implementing touch controls in certain ways (high sensitivity, floating control stick, allowing full user customization for button size/placement, etc.), but it can indeed be done. That's not saying that it's a natural thing to pick up and play though, but it is something that you get very comfortable with after you put some time in with it.

For me, I like to play games, I don't care what system they are on, I just like to play games.



Fafulec said:

it seems that I am a step behind again as I see Arcade tablet games I have been trying to play with "touch" buttons were unplayable. Good to know there are solutions for that now



Nintenjoe64 said:

This is such nonsense, I can't believe they got away with randomly putting numbers into a bar graph and trying to say it means something.

Firstly, you can't compare a console with more than ten 80% or higher metascored games with a console that had 2 launch games. Secondly, look at the consoles with the high scores. The games that are allegedly better than the current wii u games are utter fraff (just wiki them).

Take the metascore of the ten highest scoring launch games of each system and see what happens. N64 would lose horribly but I think a console should be judged on its best and not its worst. If you did judge consoles on their worst then the Wii, PS2 and PS1 would be the worst consoles ever made despite being the most successful.



TenEighty said:

The best games in my mind come from the 64. It appears more time was spent on creativity then releasing a bunch of kid's movies and other crap on the Wii. I can see why the new system isn't doing so well. Just throwing a bunch of crap fast.

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