According to financial analyst Michael Pachter, Wii title Red Steel 2 has sold 50,000 copies in the first month it has been out, putting it well out of the top-ten selling games for March. The first Red Steel game sold over a million copies.
Red Steel 2 is a solid game. It has earned positive reviews from the gaming world as well as my personal approval. It has a well-known name, and is aimed to appeal to the seemingly under-served "core" market for the Nintendo Wii. So what happened?
It's possible that the generally poorly received Red Steel has something to do with it. That game sold a lot of copies, but that doesn't necessarily mean it has a fan base. It got negative reviews, but was among only a few Wii launch titles, so many people bought it because they didn't have a whole lot of options at the time. I doubt many players finished that wonky game and thought, "I can't wait to play more of that!" Red Steel 2 completely abandons the setting, characters and flavor of the first game to try something fresh, so even the people who made the game seem a little leery of associating it with Red Steel.
There's also this possibility: Hardcore-style games just don't work on the Wii. Most gamers bought a Wii -- they're pretty cheap and pretty neat-- but everyone moved on from it pretty quickly due to both its lack of power and its lack of powerful games. It could be that a "core" Wii market just doesn't exist in numbers big enough to support the development of that type of games anymore. Games like Red Steel 2, The Conduit, and MadWorld just don't seem to be hitting the numbers you'd expect, given their good reviews and core appeal. In the future, I'd expect fewer and fewer core Wii titles from third-party developers.
What do you think? What would a core game maker have to do to make a successful Wii title?