JC Barnett, the pseudonym for a games developer working out of Japan, has a somewhat unexpected commentary on the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Brawl release in the Land of the Rising Sun on his Japanmanship blog. Essentially, Barnett believes the title will sell well enough, but ultimately underperform due to the Wii being a casual gamer’s machine - similar to what happened recently to No More Heroes in Japan, just on a larger scale.
As a spurious prediction I’d say we may see a promising start with the usual drop-off over the next few months and sales figures that would make anyone proud but that are still lower than expected, a bit like Super Mario Galaxy. If Sumabura [Super Smash Bros. Brawl] doesn’t sell that well it would be proof positive that the Wii isn’t a hard-core friendly platform. I suspect already that it isn’t, but a title like this could prove it once and for all.
Not being hard-core friendly is one thing, but Barnett asserts that he believes that hard-core titles won’t work on the Wii.
This also means the Wii is out of the “console war”. It has its own market distinctly different from its competitors, whom must fight amongst themselves for their own top spot. Both Microsoft and Sony are making wooing noises to the casual market but they’ll have a hard time stealing customers from the big N.
So any publisher looking to make money on the Wii must squarely look at casual and avoid hard-core at all costs.
Barnett’s opinion is interesting, and there could certainly be some weight to it - although one must wonder whether No More Heroes’ lack of success doesn’t also have to do with advertising method. Brawl certainly has more exposure, and sales should be stronger as a result. We’ll be able to reflect more on Barnett’s prediction in the next weeks.