Marketing rules Wii, not quality - report

"It's fools gold," say industry speakers.

World of Goo developer 2D Boy, Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter and an industry-leading developer all support Peter Moore's claims that review scores are not as important to the success of Wii games as enormous advertising budgets.

"A lot of these games that you think are the perfect game for Wii don't sell because companies don't have the money to market them," a high profile member of an industry-leading developer explained to Eurogamer. "Whereas Nintendo is spending gazillions of dollars marketing their games.

"It's fool's gold, the Wii. It looks great, but it's very hard to get money out of it. It's an empty mine for most software developers, including the big ones. It's Nintendo games that people buy on those platforms, and a few others.

"If you spend the money to go after the audience on Wii, it's pure risk," the source added.

There are notable examples of Wii games reviewing well but falling on deaf wallets - even Nintendo titles. Punch-Out!! still hasn't broken into the UK All-Formats top 40, and MadWorld, Okami and Boom Blox all quickly sunk without trace.

Peter Moore argued that Metacritic averages are "less critical" to the success of a Wii game than they are to PS3 or Xbox 360 titles; he said he can generate just as much interest for an EA Sports title from a well-placed advert on a website for a women's magazine.

"Peter is a wise man. I would never question anything he says, as I was taught to respect my elders," Michael Pachter told Eurogamer.

"I think that Metacritic scores are irrelevant for people who don't look at them - how's that for obvious? While there are many Wii owners who are hardcore and who care very much about scores, there are many - perhaps half - who are quite casual, and wouldn't know Metacritic if it fell on them.

"Clearly, somebody's buying Carnival Games, Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum, etc.," he added. "A well positioned game with an interesting concept can sell well on the Wii regardless of review scores, and I think that is what Peter's talking about."

But not everyone has the luxury of bottomless banks. 2D Boy, developer of World of Goo, explains that from an indie perspective, Metacritic scores matter "a lot".

"It sounds totally reasonable that reviews don't matter for AAA blockbusters and sports game franchises, just like reviews don't matter for Will Smith movies," 2D Boy co-founder Kyle Gabler told Eurogamer. "The audience already knows what they are going to get.

"But for indie guys like us, Metacritic and review scores matter a lot. In fact we link directly to them from our web site. So does Steam. It makes a lot of sense - potential players don't feel comfortable dishing out cash for some random unknown indie game without an aggregate thumbs-up from solid reviewers."

At least we're not out of a job just yet.

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