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EA's Gibeau: 'Core Gamer'-Aimed Wii Titles A 'Calculated Gamble'

EA's Gibeau: 'Core Gamer'-Aimed Wii Titles A 'Calculated Gamble'

June 29, 2009 | By Kris Graft

June 29, 2009 | By Kris Graft
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Nintendo has made it a point to directly counter the assertion that third party video games companies are unsuccessful on the platform. Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime said during June's E3 conference that "More third party games were sold on Wii than any platform."

But recent M-rated third party games for Nintendo's typically family-friendly console have garnered less-than-impressive initial sales, and it's got EA Games label president Frank Gibeau thinking about the prospects for the M-rated Wii shooter Dead Space: Extraction.

"Well, there has been some M-rated high-quality games released recently on Wii that we've taken note of, and that's why I think Dead Space: Extraction is a gamble," he told Gamasutra in a newly-published interview. "It's a calculated risk. Can a high-quality experience like that that appeals to a more mature audience work on the Wii platform?"

Recently, Sega published for Wii Platinum Games' Madworld and Headstrong's House of the Dead: Overkill. Both games -- both violent, stylized, and M-rated -- received "generally favorable reviews" from critics, according to Metacritic, and appeared to garner respectable media buzz.

Madworld sold around 66,000 units in its opening month in the U.S., while House of the Dead: Overkill sold 45,000 copies in its opening month in the territory.

Gibeau said, "We spent a lot of research, time, and understanding that the customer dynamics of who's actually playing on the Wii, do they own multiple platforms, are there really gamers on the Wii, or is it mainly families and youth?"

"But we think we've found a market on the Wii that would be interested in the Dead Space: Extraction experiment. We're going to take a gamble and build that market. You know, until you try, you don't really know if the hypothesis is correct or not."

M-rated software on current Nintendo platforms is uncommon. The Entertainment Software Rating Board lists just seven M-rated DS games out of over 1,000 DS titles listed. The Wii has 28 M-rated games out of over 1,000 listed on ESRB's website.

Gibeau also admitted that the last console transition was difficult for EA, as with other game companies who didn't anticipate the Wii's success, which he said "kind of came out of nowhere."

Now, EA's focus is on working closely with Nintendo on marketing and game creation. "I do think that it is a difficult ecosystem when only Nintendo products can succeed. Eventually, those types of platforms lose legs, because you need innovation coming from publishers and developers outside of Nintendo to really keep them fresh. I mean, look at 360 as an example, they've really nailed it."

You can now read the full Gibeau interview at Gamasutra, where he hits several important points about EA's strategy going forward (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).


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