Nintendo are making money off the Wii. We know. But if you're not Nintendo, and you're planning on releasing a Wii game (or re-releasing a PS2 game), how many do you need to sell?
Nintendo of America's Reggie Fils-Aime has a fair idea. Speaking in broad terms, he reckons the average Wii game needs to sell a million copies to start turning a profit. Sounds easy, except...not many Wii games have sold a million copies.
In fact, of the 486 games currently on the system (according to the New York Times), only 16 have sold one million or more units (and that's according to the NPD Group). And of those 16, 9 are Nintendo titles.
Meaning only seven games published by a third party have sold a million or more units. That's...not many. Sure, Reggie was speaking in averages (so some games that have sold under a million may have cost little to develop, offsetting that), but still. Averages go the other way, too.
Goes to show, the Wii isn't the automatic money-printer you may think it is!
Oh. Unless you're Nintendo.
UPDATE: It looks like the New York Times got it wrong in this article. In an update today, the paper says that Nintendo contacted them to point out they misunderstood the numbers:
"Finally, one clarification on the story we did Monday on this subject. For the story, Nintendo had told me that publishers of Wii games need to sell only one million games to turn a profit. The company wrote me to say that it meant that publishers can make a profit selling fewer than one million copies of a particular game. Nintendo declined to be any more specific about a number."
So now we don't have a hard number to run some math on. I under if instead of 1 million it's 900,000, or 200,000 or one less than a million. I think that's exactly what Nintendo was going for.