Sega backs away from mature Wii projects

Sega backs away from mature Wii projects

By Rob Crossley

January 4th 2010 at 10:16AM

Change of pace after mixed sales for MadWorld and The Conduit

Sega will diminish the number of mature Wii games it publishes and develops, a company executive has claimed.

The move comes in the wake of Sega releasing several high-profile ‘core’ Wii games in recent months – a move which the company has now branded a “gamble” as the games return mixed sales figures.

Constantine Hantzopoulos, a Sega of America studio director, told news site 1Up that the company would not likely make further risks with hardcore Wii games.

“Are we going to do more mature titles for the Wii? Probably not,” he said.

“I have to say that it was a space that was open and we took a gamble on it. It’s like, ‘Wow, there’s no mature games on the Wii. Is there an audience out there?’ We did some research, it said there was an audience out there.”

But that core audience failed to immediately respond to Sega-published titles such as the 18-rated MadWorld.

The news follows a recent Develop Jury panel where the development community fired a striking number of strong warnings and frank criticisms of the Wii.

The Jury service – which you can read here – saw various developers paint a bleak picture of Nintendo’s console, citing problems such as a low attachment rate, graphical limitations, a dichotomised user-base, and an over-saturated market plagued by ‘shovelware’.

And Hantzopoulos, who two months ago was acting as development director at Sega of America, revealed that first-week sales for its core Wii games had “panicked” the company’s executives, though sales had progressed better than expected.

“It’s been slow burn,” he said. “That’s the other thing you find out about the Wii. It’s not necessarily first 3 weeks like most titles. It’s a longer burn, actually. So panicked at first, but it’s like okay.

“I mean both [MadWorld and House of the Dead: Overkill] are doing okay and at the end of the day we’ll make our numbers, that’s good,” he added.

But it was the poor sales figures of another, EA-published Wii game that convinced Hantzopoulos and his colleagues that the core Wii market was too unpredictable for sustained investment.

“Look at Dead Space Extraction,” he said.

“We were stunned. That was my litmus test. Basically, it’s like, okay, you got EA, who can put all the marketing muscle behind this, an established franchise that scored quite well on 360 and PS3. They should be able to actually hit this out of the park, right? We get numbers, real numbers aside from NPD, and I’m like, ‘Woah.’”

Sega’s new stance of mature Wii projects comes in conflict with previous statements made by Sega of America’s marketing VP Sean Ratcliffe, who last year suggested that MadWorld’s “encouraging" sales would prompt the company to turn the game into a franchise.