Stop arguing about video game sales figures, my friends.
Let's argue about Wii gaming stats.
Let's argue about how much time people play the games they rent and buy, to find out what's in heavy rotation and what sits untouched in its case.
How much more popular is "Super Smash Bros." than "Mario Kart Wii"? Do people really play "Wii Fit" very much after they buy it? Does anyone play "Metroid Prime 3" and "Okami" anymore?
Those and many other answers are in the numbers below.
Before we get to the fun numbers -- and there's plenty of them below! -- I need to provide some background. Otherwise you might think I made these stats up. In late June, during my fill-in stint for Brian Crecente at Kotaku, I filed a post about the Wii gameplay statistics Nintendo makes public on the Wii's Nintendo channel. That Nintendo service collects gameplay data from anyone who has downloaded the Nintendo Channel to their Wii and allowed their statistical gaming history to be shared.
The numbers are interesting though not comprehensive. The Nintendo Channel stats don't calculate the habits of every Wii user, just a fraction. When I ran my Kotaku post, the NPD group had just released a report that indicated the Wii had sold 10 million units in the U.S. The Nintendo Channel doesn't indicate how many of that 10 million share their info. But I did some math to discern how many people contributed information about their playing habits with "Wii Sports," a game that every Wii owners has because it is sold with the system. In late June, the Channel appeared to have information from 746,000 of those people.
Yesterday, on September 1, I looked at the Nintendo Channel stats again, roughly six weeks after my Kotaku post and with now more than 1,000,000 Wii owners contributing info to the Channel. I found some great news for "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" fans, some small progress for "Boom Blox" and a mixed bag of results for some ballyhooed WiiWare titles.
Let's dig in.
First, here's an update on the games from my Kotaku post:
Boom Blox (Released May 2008)
In June I looked at "Boom Blox" stats, reacting to a suggestion from a developer who suggested I'd find something positive in the numbers for what appeared to be a game that sold more slowly than its glowing reviews would have indicated. At the time of the Kotaku writing, "Boom Blox" owners had been averaging about 8 hours and 25 minutes of time with the game, spread across an average 3.8 sessions. (In plainer English: The average "Boom Blox" player had played the game about four times since buying or renting it, for about eight and a half hours overall.)
Raw data for "Boom Blox" Wii usage (Updated as of 9/1)
Total play time by Nintendo Channel users: 564,486 Hours / 261,679 Times
Per Person: 11 Hours, 8 Minutes / 5.16 Times
Analysis: In the six weeks since my Kotaku post, the average play time for "Boom Blox" is up two hours and 43 minutes for the average user. That doesn't simply mean that all previous owners of the game played it a couple hours more. The usage patterns of new owners need to be taken into account, which suggests that the boost in average playing time is good. Still, since we're all new to looking at these numbers, can we conclude whether it's a positive or a negative that a game released in May has been played by its owners about five times between then and the start of September?
Wii Fit (Released May 2008)
In June I showed that the "Wii Fit" had averaged about 9 hours and 14 minutes of playing time per person across 5.7 sessions. Over the course of time, of course, those number of sessions should grow significantly -- if people are using the fitness game as a regular exercise tool.
Raw data for "Wii Fit" Wii usage (Updated as of 9/1)
Total play time by Nintendo Channel users: 2,283,829 Hours / 1,675,742 Times
Per Person: 14 Hours, 26 Minutes / 10.59 Times
Analysis: Compare this to "Boom Blox" and you'll see that this game appeared to be used much more heavily (no pun intended!) during the summer. Owners' average time was up more than five hours since June and the average number of sessions went up five. Tracking these figures, one has to take into account new consumers. If you bought "Wii Fit" a month ago and used it daily, you'd report at least 30 sessions. If I bought it a week ago and played it with the same dedication, I'd report only 7 sessions. In an average, my number would pull yours down, not because I used the game less, but because I had it for a shorter period of time. Still a rise in sessions for "Wii Fit" shows that people are playing this game a good amount after they've bought it.
Wii Sports (Released November 2006)
The June numbers for this game were huge. Nintendo Channel users had logged 24,740,000 hours with the game across 21,100,000 sessions, spending an average of 33 hours and six minutes with the game and playing it about 28 times since they got their Wii.
Raw data for "Wii Sports" Wii usage (Updated as of 9/1)
Total play time by Nintendo Channel users: 39,572,086 Hours / 32,844,782 Times
Per Person: 34 Hours, 25 Minutes / 28.56 Times
Analysis: The per-player averages didn't go up that much, suggesting that usage of the game is strong and fairly stable. Doing the same math I referred to in the intro to this piece, it appears that 1,115,000 "Wii Sports" users shared information with the Nintendo Channel, bringing its representation of the overall Wii-owning population to about 10% of the whole.
Carnival Games (Released August 2007)
In June I showed that the August 2007 mini-game collection "Carnival Games" averaged about seven hours and 44 minutes per owner across 5.6 sessions, roughly comparable stats to "Boom Blox," which had only been out for a month.
Raw data for "Carnival Games" Wii usage (Updated as of 9/1)
Total play time by Nintendo Channel users: 1,116,303 Hours / xx Times [Not noted when I collected the data]
Per Person: 8 Hours, 21 Minutes / 6.07 Times
Analysis: Usage of this game is up, per user, by about half an hour and half a session. Not much of a summer bump. Like "Wii Sports," it seems fairly stable and still comparable in usage to "Boom Blox."
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Released August 2007)
I looked at the stats for "Metroid" and the next game on this list for my Kotaku post to see how hardcore games were performed. Did people who bought these games really play them? In June "Corruption" game was showing 4,113,000 hours of combined playtime, with Nintendo Channel users averaging 21 hours and 16 minutes of time with the game across 9.9 sessions.
Raw data for "Metroid Prime3: Corruption" Wii usage (Updated as of 9/1)
Total play time by Nintendo Channel users: 5,435,947 Hours / xx Times [Not noted when I collected the data]
Per Person: 21 Hours, 11 Minutes / 9.82 Times
Analysis: The September 1 numbers show not even showing a hint of movement from the June stats. Since it took me a little more than 20 hours to beat it, what I'm seeing here is that this game, on average, gets played to completion by most users and then put away.
Okami (Released April 2008)
Capcom's critical darling was averaging about 14 hours and 25 minutes per user when I looked at the Nintendo-collected stats in June. The game had only been released a couple of months earlier. Given that "Okami" takes at least 25 hours to complete, perhaps by September 1 these stats would show an increase in average playtime?
Raw data for "Okami" Wii usage (Updated as of 9/1)
Total play time by Nintendo Channel users: xx Hours / xx Times [Not noted when I collected the data]
Per Person: 17 Hours, 51 Minutes / 6.9 Times
Analysis: Yes, people are playing the game more, but no, on average they're still not finishing it.
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Released October 2007)
Activision's music game humbled all other games for which I noted data in June. Its owners had logged a total of 10 million hours across six million sessions, with each owner spending an average 53 hours and 28 minutes with the game across 30 sessions. Insane. Surely, the many new owners of the game since then would drag these stats down some?
Raw data for "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" Wii usage (Updated as of 9/1)
Total play time by Nintendo Channel users: 17,270,836 Hours / 9,800,000 Times [Rounded in my notes - sorry!]
Per Person: 56 Hours, 30 Minutes / 32 Times
Analysis: The numbers are still rising. I'm impressed. If average play time is up about three hours over the last six weeks -- despite all the brand-new owners whose stats should be dragging these figures down -- I'm concluding that people can't stop playing "Guitar Hero." Safe conclusion?
In June I also pulled some stats for WiiWare games and posted them on this blog. Let's follow-up with a couple of them.
Lost Winds (Released May 2008)
The numbers I pulled in June showed that about 17,500 Nintendo Channel users had played this launch WiiWare platform game, "Lost Winds," giving us a handy baseline for sales. The game had sold at least that many digital copies. People were playing it for an average of three hours and four minutes across 2.8 sessions.
Raw data for "Lost Winds" Wii usage (Updated as of 9/1)
Total play time by Nintendo Channel users: xx Hours [Not noted when I collected the data] / 97,224 Times
Per Person: xx Hours [Not noted when I collected the data] / 3.3 Times
Analysis: Ownership of the game appears to be up to at least 29,500 as of yesterday. That's a minimum sales figure, considering that not everyone who downloaded the WiiWare game would have downloaded and accessed the Nintendo Channel. What percentage would have? I can't tell, but I do think that anyone interested enough to seek out WiiWare content has a decent chance of checking out the Nintendo Channel, moreso than someone who only plays disc-based games.
Final Fantasy: My Life As A King (Released May 2008)
This was the most popular of the WiiWare games I looked at in June, showing a minimum of 19,400 users who averaged 11 hours and 46 minutes with the game across 4.8 sessions.
Raw data for "Final Fantasy: My Life As A King " Wii usage (Updated as of 9/1)
Total play time by Nintendo Channel users: 502,511 Hours / 220,091 Times
Per Person: 14 Hours 16 Minutes / 6.25 Times
Analysis: My long division indicates that minimum sales for this Square-Enix game must now exceed 35,000. Hit? Flop? I have no idea what the standard should be for a WiiWare game. But I do know that developer Jonathan Blow says his Xbox Live Arcade game, "Braid," sold 55,000 copies in its first week.
Those are the updates for games I was already tracking. For this entry I have also pulled numbers for a quartet of other games that I thought would be interesting. Here are the stats to ponder:
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Raw data for "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" Wii usage (9/1)
Total play time by Nintendo Channel users: 41,700,000 Hours [rounded] / 17,100,000 Times [rounded]
Per Person: 59 Hours 59 Minutes / 24.65 Times
Mario Kart Wii
Raw data for "Mario Kart Wii" Wii usage (9/1)
Total play time by Nintendo Channel users: 11,400,000 Hours [rounded] / 6,200,000 Times [rounded]
Per Person: 23 Hours 42 Minutes / 13.1 Times
Raw data for "Rock Band" Wii usage (9/1)
Total play time by Nintendo Channel users: 617,832 Hours [rounded] / 287,288 Times [rounded]
Per Person: 22 Hours 37 Minutes / 10.52 Times
Super Mario 64 [Numbers drawn from Virtual Console usage, not the N64 release]
Raw data for "Super Mario 64" Wii usage (9/1)
Total play time by Nintendo Channel users: 1,438,404 Hours / 1,366,431 Times
Per Person: 10 Hours 49 Minutes / 10.28 Times
The Nintendo Channel numbers may not tell us much about the sales of a game, but they certainly indicate the degree to which people who rent and buy Wii games like what they're playing. For this September edition I'm impressed with the "Smash" figures, intrigued by where the "Boom Blox" and "Carnival Games" numbers are heading and surprised at how few the "Rock Band" stats were logged, compared to those of "Guitar Hero." As for WiiWare, I'm anxious to see it get a hit, so we can see how successful a game on that service can be.
I think I'll do this monthly.
Check back in October for more Wii number crunching.