News Article

Retro City Rampage Has Only Sold a Quarter of the WiiWare Sales Threshold

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

A return in investment looks a long way away

Just over a month ago Retro City Rampage arrived on the Wii Shop on the Wii and, of course, Wii U, bringing a wacky, irreverent tale cloaked in endless parodies and retro-GTA infused gameplay. As a last fling for the WiiWare service, it was in our opinion worth the wait.

As explained to us in our interview with the game's creator, Brian Provinciano, he had serious doubts whether the title would make him any money on the Nintendo platform due to the infamous WiiWare sales threshold; failure to shift a certain number of units means that the developer receives no payment at all. With the Wii's online platform long past its glory days, Provinciano said the following about his motivation for following through with the release, and his fears for the worst.

And as it stands, virtually no games hit the threshold these days, so it’s only being released as fan service. A $20,000 gift to the fans. However, I wanted to keep my word and didn’t want to see it go to waste. I’m happy to see it finally out, and the many happy players. That said, I encourage everyone to buy it! I’m crossing my fingers that it will hit the threshold at least in one region.

Even with the — admittedly clunky — option for Wii U owners to also pick this up in the new system's Wii Mode, it seems the title is underperforming and struggling to hit the magic barrier of financial return. It's been revealed that the game has shifted around 100,000 copies across its five platforms, with PS3 and PC performing well, though Xbox 360 sales have disappointed. WiiWare sales are unsurprisingly the lowest of the lot, to a worrying extent for Provinciano, as he told Destructoid.

It hasn't sold anywhere near 5,000 units on WiiWare. It has, in fact, sold only about 25% of the threshold.

Considering the fact that the WiiWare version is cheaper than on other home consoles, that's certain to be a big disappointment. It's a shame that such a good title is toiling to such a degree on the Wii platform, and provides a timely reminder that its online service is seemingly becoming nonviable for developers; thankfully the sales threshold has long since been abandoned on the eShops.

Have you downloaded Retro City Rampage, and what are your thoughts on this scenario? Sound off in the comments below.


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User Comments (79)



Lin1876 said:

Fairly inevitable, really. WiiWare is yesterday's technology, and the stupid split between the Wii Shop and Wii U eShop is only making things worse.



Philip_J_Reed said:

I just blogged about this being such a wonderful labor of love today...before I saw this confirmation of how far he is from turning a profit.

I honestly do hope more people check this game out. I'd hate to see this turn into another in a long line of WiiWare failures.



GeminiSaint said:

This pretty much confirms it. WiiWare is dead.
I'm sorry for this guy, but he knew what he was doing when he decided to release the game on a dead service anyway.



MeWario said:

Inevitable would be the word. I guess I'll download it. It just took so long to arrive and my Wii is now pretty much just a dust collector, plus it doesn't help that the reviews were so wildly varied.



Moco_Loco said:

I know integrity doesn't put food on the table, but I love that he chose to keep his word rather than pulling out in the name of profit. I have a feeling the goodwill he bought with that $20,000 will be rewarded one day. In the meantime, I hope he can eventually turn a profit on the Wii version.



Harley said:

It would've been perfect as an eshop game on the 3DS, but as it stands...I'm glad I bought it. Hell, I'd even consider downloading DLC though that's incredibly unlikely.



OL_G said:

let him do a wii u version on eshop with off tv play and i'll gladly pay i just don't buy anything in wii mode i only copied my vc games and never looked back there he really should release it with miiverse integration or something



k8sMum said:

i would buy more WiiWare games if i could do like i can on my 3DS XL: add enough money from my credit/debit card to cover the price of the game. i hate having to still buy points cards. there is no excuse for it in this day and age.



irken004 said:

It's strange that in another article I read, the 360 version was the most expensive version to release it onto. He supposedly learned his lesson from that!



MakeMyBiscuit said:

You know what, because of this, I am buying it right now!

Thank you Provinciano, I know I really appreciate it!



DreamOn said:

It's really too bad. wiiware was a gamble that likely won't turn up anything. Really glad the eShop made the reforms it did so other devs need not be incredibly discouraged by this tale.



Raiko said:

I imagine a lot of Wii owners actually ended up buying it on another platform. I've still yet to pick it up myself, but I intend to.



Dpullam said:

I already figured that it wouldn't make back the money that he put into it. It looks to be a decent game from what I have seen. It just doesn't look like the type of game I would like to spend my money on. It's a shame that he won't see a profit though.



TwilightV said:

I haven't turned my Wii on in awhile. As soon I do i'll be picking this and La Mulana up.



Captain_Gonru said:

I bought mine on my Wii U's Wii mode day 1. I had held off on buying it on other consoles, as a Wii version was what I had been sold on in the first place.
BTW, I don't find the Wii mode to be that cumbersome. I only wish it had the Nintendo channel.



KeeperBvK said:

I also downloaded it on the day of its release on WiiWare. Hopefully he'll still be able to gain something from this release.



ajcismo said:

Put it on the Wii U and/or 3DS eShop and I'll gladly buy it. Wiiware is a graveyard. Its not worth me buying points for that shop, sorry.
This, Nintendo, is the problem we as consumers have been grumbling about: 4 online market places (counting DSiWare too), all with separate accounts to keep track of. We need a single account system.



RandomNerds said:

Ugh. Nintendo needs to make system of software distribution that allows you to: A. Use your software on all their devices (if they have the power)
B. Manage your points/money and recent purchases under one account.



steamhare said:

I, too, have moved away from wiiware. I'd have bought RCR in a second if wiiware was directly playable on the Wii U, like dsiware is on the 3DS.



KingH3nrry said:

If it were released on the Wii U's eshop, I would have downloaded it. But the wii shop is dead to me



Haxonberik said:

They should've released it for the Wii U store, as Many others and I have left the Wii store behind



epylon said:

got it today, but would buy it again on wiiu eshop in a heartbeat for the ease of not using wii channel. but love the game.



millarrp said:

it's a shame for such a great game...I would also rebuy it on the Wii U eStore if it came available



ueI said:

This is sad and unsurprising. I didn't buy the game because I never wanted it in the first place.



XCWarrior said:

I really can't stand the people that say the Wii's shop is dead to them because they have a Wii U now. That's so stupid. You can play it on your Wii U. You have no good reason not to buy games from that service. You are simply stopping yourself from enjoying hundreds of games.

Grow up people and stop thinking of EXCUSES as to why NOT to buy third party games.



RantingThespian said:

I downloaded it a while back, just to support the guy and help him reach the mark for Wii Ware. In the process, I found an amazing game that I love.

I still hope the game will reach the mark, and that he will make money on the Wii version . . . but sadly that looks like it won't happen. I kind of want to mail him money for the game he made.



duffmman said:

It doesn't help that anyone can softmod their wii for free and then download and install wiiware titles for free. To release anything on wiiware after it was exploited the way it was, seems foolish to me, that is of course if you want to make some money on your title as a developer.



duskao said:

I hate to say it, but he should have just went and released it on the Wii U. The ability to play it on the Wii U is there but a slight hassle with the way that Nintendo set up the Wii emulation. If it were a direct WiiWare channel or whatever you want to call it now as opposed to switching to Wii mode then enter WiiWare channel it would likely sell much more, but it's not directly in front of many people so then it doesn't stick out. But now that I have read this I will probably look into it lol.



BooJoh said:

Props to him for pushing it through to release, but considering the WiiWare version was already likely to have the worst sales numbers, and then also releasing the game on other more popular services a while before it got to WiiWare pretty much guaranteed failure to reach the threshold.



MakeMyBiscuit said:

Just what I was thinking. Well put. I just played a little of the game and it is AWESOME. I waited for the WiiWare version because for me it just belongs on a Nintendo system. I actually played some Mario Kart 64 via my Wii's VC too and it still is AWESOME and it is in 480P via component cables and looks better than it ever did.

Virtual Console and Wii Ware have hundreds of great games. I too can't understand when people says its dead. The only reason I can think of is that they pirated the games they wanted and downloaded the ROMS for free thus not caring to support third party developers or even Nintendo for that matter

I also have an Xbox 360 and PS3 and I actually have a N64, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Sega 32X, DS XL & 3DS and my Wii still gets some good play time. Heck I even play Gamecube games on it so my Wii definitely does not just sit around.



psycoticdev1l said:

I feel bad for him in a way. I definitely would have bought this if I didn't buy the PS3/Vita version. I think releasing this version last was a bad idea. Especially since nearly every other version is better, except the XBLA one.



SteveW said:

It's a shame that a killer game finally comes to Wiiware and so many people are going to miss out on it. I understand if you already bought it on another system but if you haven't then how can you call yourself a gamer after passing this one up?

and for people whining about having to go to the Wii menu... is it really any harder then going up and poping a game into the system? people are so lazy these days...



Nintenjoe64 said:

They need to integrate Wiiware into the eShop. There's loads of games nobody has ever played there.



Tasuki said:

I can tell you why its cause they kept delaying it and by the time they finally brought it out to Wiiware potential buyers like myself passed on it cause now it just doesnt seem interesting enough. Sorry you snooze you lose.



brucelebnd said:

it's a great game and worth a buy no matter if "wiiware is dead" or "they took too long"

intergity is rare in business and fans should support a great game and help out an indie dev. if VBlank put anything else out on Nintendo i'll buy it just because they didn't have to take a loss to put it on the Wii but they kept their word and did it.

it's worth it and damn it's only $10



Stuffgamer1 said:

I played and liked the game...on PS3 some months ago. Really, the market for the WiiWare version is sure to be ABSURDLY small given how many superior platforms it was already out on. So ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for good thinking, huh?



Nareva said:

I'm planning to buy it in the next week or so. That sales threshold is just absurd though. Why would that exist? Nintendo is clearing these games for sale on their service, so why would they screw over developers like that? It just sounds douchey.

Nintendo: We'll sell your game to our customers and keep all the money.
Dev: Uh, that sounds like a terrible deal.
Nintendo: But if everyone buys it, we'll toss you a bone.
Dev: Umm...

Glad they changed things up for the Wii U, but seriously, that is just a stupid, stupid idea.



bedouin said:

DLed it on the first day. I hope by some miracle it eventually pays off for him. At the very least he's gained some loyal followers.



SCAR said:

It really depends on how much he made overall. Maybe he could have released it on WiiWare as an exclusive and pay one fee instead of three, then people would have had to buy it on one console, instead of having the option to buy it on 3. Start smart on a small scale first. I just think he set his goals too high, then tried to stay true to his word. It WAS supposed to be on Wii Ware to begin with afterall.



sweetiepiejonus said:


But how do you explain other indie developers gushing about the Wii U eShop? It is a minor inconvenience, that's for sure. But the operative word is "inconvenience."

I definitely agree that we need to support indie developers but as some have said it should have been on 3DS. Guarantee the dude's pockets would erupt with much moneys, but it was just bad luck for it to be delayed so long and be in between the bridge from one gen to the next.

Would have been like a studio producing a new release on VHS as it was going the way of the buffalo, then comparing the numbers to DVD rental figures.



brooks83 said:


He has made a profit BECAUSE he released it on multiple systems. Had he just released it on WiiWare he might have broken the threshhold (I doubt it though) but he proabably would not have sold anywhere near 100,000 total like he has done.



WiiLovePeace said:

That must mean he sold about 1,500 copies on WiiWare since in a gamasutra interview with Dan Adelman here it was "revealed" (well it was new knowledge to me) that the WiiWare threshold for payment was 6,000 copies I always thought the limit was like 1,000 copies or 2,000 before payment. I'm thankful that he released it on Wiiware despite only being able to hope for a profit from the service, its a great game. & I'm even more thankful he sold ~100,000 copies. I wonder what his next game will be like...



MakeMyBiscuit said:


Sweet! Hopefully more people who did not know about Wii Ware and the VC on the Wii will discover it on the WiiU.

Not too long ago I had to send my Wii to Nintendo for repair. I would rather pay $90.00 to have my first gen Wii fixed than buy a stripped down new version. Because my system was not modded or hacked, they fixed it and even gave me a 1 year extended warranty. Non of my VC or WiiWare games worked so I had to download everything again. Good news is that I was able to download my games no longer on the service like Donkey Kong Country and Super Turrican with no problems. The bad news is that it literally took me all night to download all my games one by one. I have about 112 VC and WiiWare games on my Wii SD Card and there are still more I want to get.



Chunky_Droid said:

From a business perspective, it should not have been released on WiiWare.

Though if he's doing it as a promise, that's his choice.



DarkEdi said:

It is fault of Nintendo totally because they could do a button in Wii U eshop to access to all Wii shop content and they don´t do it.



edhe said:

It was on sale on GOG and Steam multiple times before it even hit the Wii (the last console for the game to appear on, naturally).

It's hard to say whether this had an effect on the WiiWare sales, but I can admit it would have been too big a risk to take just to release in on WiiWare.



Milton_Burle said:

I wanted this, but I have a Wii U now. This game was announced ages ago - why did it take so long? Would have been ideal in that lull before the Wii U release. I blame the timing, nothing else.



Bulbousaur said:

Its because of Steam, which had it for more than half price multiple times (I know cause I got it there )



n0body said:

Serious question: How hard would it be to just figure the amount of money each WiiWare game that hasn't crossed the minimum threshold has earned, and just give the developer their cut as an act of good will?

I mean there weren't that many WiiWare games to begin with*, so it seems reasonable to assume there are about 100-200 games that didn't make the cut?

I don't think it's a ton of work contacting a hundred or so devs via email and organizing some kind of electronic transfer. I mean Nintendo has their contact information as well as their bank account info for sure. They should also have a fairly accurate estimate on the sales of these titles, and figuring out the exact number should just be a matter of poring over some logs.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but if my assumptions aren't completely off, this is a task a single individual could accomplish in a week's work.
It would do a lot to improve Nintendo's image with indie developers, especially since their new policy seems to remove many of WiiWare's old restrictions.




WWammy said:

I'm glad it came out on the Wii to be honest I haven't bought a Wii U yet.
But yeah I'm surprised that you can't access the old Wiiware content on the Wii u platform



Toad64 said:

I already had it on my PS3/Vita, but since I'd been looking forward to the game since it was first announced for WiiWare, I still went and bought it on my Wii U. The extra ROM mode was a nice incentive. It's a great game and I'm glad that overall it was a success.



Omega said:

Either brilliant or despicable marketing, or maybe both. First he tells the press that the development impacted his health. And that he doesn't earn a cent. And the game is a $20.000 gift to the fans?
Oh, come on. We all buy the game out of pity right now.



Linkus said:

I bought it today and I'm glad I did. It's a really good "old school" game!



ted-k said:

I can't help but take a somewhat cynical view of this too. I'm sure he made a decent amount of money on this game if it sold 100 000 units on all platforms, and I don't believe that his investment just for making it available on wiiware was actually $20,000 as he claimed. I think that figure is misleading and represents something else, maybe the profit he would make if it meets the threshold. Would it really cost him that much extra just to put it on wii after the game is already finished and out on other platforms? Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
However I totally agree with n0body, that Nintendo should give back some profits to all developers whose games didn't manage to meet the wiiware sales threshold, as a show of goodwill. The threshold was a stupid idea.



Stuffgamer1 said:

@Omega: You have an interesting point, but I'd rather not jump to conclusions here...he's been a nice and helpful guy on the game's Facebook page and whatnot, so I'm really not sure he'd pull that kind of stunt. Either way, I don't care all that much because I'm not getting it on WiiWare no matter what he says.



tripunktoj said:

Bought it on day one on WiiWare. I was holding some hope on this one reaching the threshold since it hasn't dropped from the popular list on Wii Shop since launch.



Number_6 said:

I was glad to see it released on WiiWare, and picked it up right away. Then again, I haven't bought a Wii U yet, so anytime there is a new Wii game that looks decent, I feel like it's Christmas again. I'm surprised at how low the number of WiiWare sales is, especially after all the attention it got on enthusiast sites like N-Life. I would have thought there were lots of people still looking for a good game, but apparently I underestimated the degree to which the Wii has already faded. If the sales numbers really are that small, I doubt it will ever break 5,000. At least the Wii holdouts in the US still have Pandora's Tower to look forward to!



Urbanhispanic said:

I plan on downloading it for my Wii. But in all honestly, I'm not surprised that it isn't selling as well as it should be. Many people have abandoned WiiWare at this point. The Wii U and the eShop are in full swing now so the only point for people to check out WiiWare is to download the games they never got a chance to play.



Oto said:

Having a blast playing this. Researched all the reviews prior, and my gut feeling was that this was gonna be a fun game, & it hasn't disappointed. If you're on the fence, I highly rec this. Great gameplay, humor, controls.



Windy said:

Although this isn't my type of game I will buy tonight to Support. We need these kinds of companies to keep on going

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