Saturday, February 2, 2008

Other than Nintendo, who makes the best games for Wii?

How do the major publishers/developers in the world stack-up when it comes to Wii support? What follows is a ranking of 14 of the biggest players and their major releases, starting with the poorest. The factors taken into account are the volume and quality of their Wii games, as well as their commitment to future support.

14. Midway

Released: Cruis'n, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
Upcoming: Blitz 2008

Midway's output is typically poor, but the Wii seems to have brought out the worst in them. Anyone who had the misfortune of playing or even buying Crius'n has my sincerest sympathies.

13. Take-Two Interactive

Released: Fantastic 4
Upcoming: Don King presents: Prizefighter

More licensed fodder and sports games. Nothing to see here...

12. Activision

Released: Call of Duty 3, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Spiderman 3, Tony Hawk Downhill Jam
Upcoming: Call of Duty 5

The company's one platform exclusive was the passable Tony Hawk Downhill Jam, which was also a launch title. All other releases have been multi-platform games that have been handled with varying degrees of success; the lowlight being the hilariously buggy Spiderman 3. While the Wii was overlooked for Call of Duty 4, the fifth in the series has been confirmed for the system. Activision doesn't appear to have any plans to truly support the Wii the way they have the Xbox 360.

11. Rockstar Games

Released: Manhunt 2, Table Tennis
Upcoming: Bully

Rockstar have typically maintained a healthy distance from Nintendo development, but the Wii is beginning to change that. The upcoming port of Bully looks to make excellent use of the hardware, but truly exclusive games still remain elusive. Grand Theft Auto: Pipe Dream...

10. Sci/Eidos

Released: Tomb Raider Anniversary
Upcoming: Monster Lab, Tomb Raider Underworld

The publisher's sole release on the Wii to date has been the competent port of Tomb Raider; a version of the next in the series has also been scheduled. In addition, Monster Lab, an original 1 on 1 fighter has also been announced. A few more original games would help Sci/Eidos quickly move up the rankings.

Monster Lab: Looks like Galaxy's gorgeous rim lighting has a few admirers

9. LucasArts

Released: Lego Star Wars: The complete saga,
Upcoming: Lego Indian Jones, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

The ouput of LucasArts has confused and frustrated many Wii owners. Using the Wii remote as a lightsaber seems like an obvious decision, and the perfect idea for a platform exclusive. But the closest the company has come is to announce a version of Force Unleashed with some Wii specific controls, levels and modes. Good multi-platform titles are fine, but they'll only get the company so far.

8. Ubisoft

Released: Redsteel, Rayman Raving Rabbids 1+2, No More Heroes, Nitro Bike
Upcoming: Brothers In Arms, Prince of Persia (new)

The one company to really buck the trend of improving support on this list is Ubisoft. Having started brightly with Redsteel and Rayman, the company's output has steadily declined, alienating gamers in the process. The company has since gone on record to state that it will be aiming for Nintendo-like quality in the future, but there is little on the horizon to get really excited about. Their decision to publish No More Heroes in the west has counter-balanced some of their poor output.

No More Heroes: If Ubisoft can't make good Wii games, they can at least publish them

7. THQ

Released: WWE: Smack vs Raw, SpongeBob
Upcoming: De Blob, Worms: A Space Oddity, Destroy All Humans, Band Mashups, Dangerous Creatures

THQ's support so far has consisted mainly of middling licensed games, but the future holds far more promise. Brand new exclusive games such as Band Mashups and De Blob have been garnering universally positive previews, and are great examples of Wii development done right. The recently announced Dangerous Creatures, an original IP, also looks very promising. THQ appear to be one of the few western publishers with serious ambitions for their Wii games.

De Blob: Sleeper Hit?

6. Namco

Released: Soul Calibur Legends
Upcoming: Fragile, Tales of Symphonia 2, Family Ski

Namco is perhaps the one company on this list that is most likely move up rankings very soon. They recently stated that they have up to 30 games in development for the Wii, but for now all they have to show is the desperately average Soul Calibur Legends. While most of their schedule still remains a mystery, the titles that have been revealed look very promising.

5. Square-Enix

Released: Dragon Quest Swords
Upcoming: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon

A very slow start has given way to a very bright future. The company is reworking their Final Fantasy Wii game to turn it into an epic, big budget single player adventure. They are also supporting the WiiWare platform with the Final Fantasy brand. While the lineup is still a little sparse, what's on the horizon is is shining very brightly indeed and is enough to put them up to 5th.

4. EA

Released: Medal of Honor: Heroes 2, My Sims, SSX Blur, Boogie,
Upcoming: Spore, FaceBreaker, Boom Blox

EA have had a solid start to Wii development, with a good mix of exclusive games and well chosen ports. Though missteps such as Boogie and some poor sports updates have dragged them down the rankings a little. Their forecasts show they expect the Wii's success to continue, so their support is likely to improve through 08/09. What's missing is a true big budget, exclusive blockbuster game for the future.

Boom Blox: Will the comparison to Miyamoto made games really hold up?

3. Konami

Released: Dance Dance Revolution, Elebits, Dewy's Adventure, MLB Power Pros, Korinpa
Upcoming: Pro Evolution Soccer

The innovative Elebits set an early tone for Konami, and their update of Pro Evolution Soccer may very well revolutionize the genre. Konami have offered Nintendo good support without offering any of their really big franchises; if this were remedied the company would really challenge for the top spot. Of particular interest will be what Shingo Mukaitoge has next up his sleeve, and whether he can marry innovation with sales success.

2. Sega

Released: Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz, Nights, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Mario and Sonic at the Olympic games
Upcoming: Samba de Amigo, House of the Dead, Sega Superstar Tennis

Sega's commitment to releasing new additions to some of their most important IPs (Sonic, Nights), as well as solid ports and mulit-platform games has overcome their lack of true AAA titles to place them at the number 2 spot. While the quality of their games haven't reached Nintendo-like levels, they are by far the most consistent and committed 3rd party. Their position will come under increasing threat however as Namco and Square-Enix begin to match Sega's numbers with greater quality.

1. Capcom

Released: Devil Kings 2 Heroes, Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, Zack & Wiki, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law
Upcoming: Okami, Monster Hunter 3, Wii Love Golf

What Capcom have done, they have done well. Their ports and brand new IPs show that they have an understanding of the Wii controller that perhaps only Nintendo can match. Future support also looks promising with the commitment of one of their biggest IPs; Monster Hunter. With sales being robust, their Wii lineup will surely grow and help them protect their position against the rapidly improving competition.

Okami: Another great Capcom port, but will it help them keep the top spot?

What's immediately noticeable is how the top spots are dominated by Japanese companies. Apart from EA and THQ, the other western players simply aren't favoring the Wii with quality games, and in some cases few games at all. If western publishers are really buying into the idea that only Nintendo games sell on Nintendo hardware, they'll quickly become in danger of missing out on the rapidly growing Wii software market. It's no coincidence that Capcom, in my opinion the number 1 3rd party developer/publisher on the Wii, are also the ones posting the best sales figures.


Butros said...

How can Tecmo not be on the list?

Zap Brannigan said...

Nintendo recently stated that they were going to publish Fatal Frame, so I didn't think Tecmo were big enough to include on the list. Next time I update the rankings I'll probably include them.