Perhaps more so than any other publisher, Sega has taken risks on establishing a mature audience on Nintendo's family-friendly Wii. This year, the Japanese company has released three titles exclusively for the Wii that have catered to a more adult crowd: Headstrong Games' House of the Dead: Overkill, Platinum Games' MadWorld, and High Voltage Software's The Conduit.
However, despite agreeable review scores, none of the titles have been able to tap into the Wii's massive installed base, which stands at 52 million worldwide through June 30. Though Sega stated that House of the Dead "absolutely met our expectations," the title failed to crack the NPD Group's top 10 US retail releases for February. MadWorld and The Conduit had equally disappointing starts, debuting with a respective 66,000 and 72,000 units in the US.
Still, Sega doesn't appear ready to give up on finding the Wii's core gaming audience. Speaking to Wired, Sega president and COO Mike Hayes said that just because the three aforementioned titles didn't score breakout success doesn't mean that adult-centric games won't sell on the platform.
"I think if you take our slew of more mature games--House of the Dead: Overkill did really well in Europe, and for some reason even though it's a big (intellectual property) it did less well in North America," Hayes noted. "So that's kind of like a win and a miss that's kind of come out neutral."
"MadWorld sales were very disappointing, but was that to do with the platform?" he continued. "Was it that people didn't like the art style? Or that people didn't like the way the game played through? It could be many things, which we're obviously researching." Hayes went on to note that Sega considers The Conduit a success, given that it shipped 300,000 units worldwide, about 150,000 of which sold through to consumers.
Hayes also said that Sega fully intends to continue releasing more mature games for the Wii, given that the platform's massive installed base allows even niche games to be successful. "I think the sheer scale of the Wii allows a shooter, or a mature game, to be a niche but a successful niche. And because the development costs can be less on Wii, that means you can sell less to be successful. We can take more risks on the Wii."
The Wii has a number of core-audience titles on the horizon. Conduit developer High Voltage Software is currently prepping The Grinder and Gladiator A.D. for Nintendo's platform, neither of which has a publisher yet. Other Wii exclusives include Electronic Arts' Dead Space Extraction and Capcom's Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, which are both expected later this year.