Nintendo Expects The Conduit, GTA Chinatown Wars To Sell Well

Despite some signs of trouble earlier this year, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told Kotaku why third-parties have a bright future on Wii and DS.

The company that's been riding high on its own Wii and DS successes has recently had some trouble convincing people that marquee games from publishers other than Nintendo can do well on Nintendo's machines.

Sega's hardcore-hyped MadWorld launched on the Wii with 66,000 copies sold in the U.S. in March, according to the NPD group.

Take Two's Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars — the best-reviewed game on the DS — launched that same month with fewer than 90,000 copies sold in the U.S.

"There is no magic number that says x = profitability," Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told Kotaku during our E3 interview last week, further clarifying earlier comments on the matter.

Two non-Nintendo games he expects to perform well are Sega's The Conduit and EA's Dead Space Extraction, both first-person games with a darker tone that Nintendo's standard. "I am really optimistic about The Conduit," he said. "I think it looks great, plays great. I think Dead Space Extraction is going to be fabulous given the early builds that I've seen. So, I do think that we will continue to see not only great titles, but great sales, on higher-rated M and T type of titles on our platforms."

Fils-Aime addressed the seeming struggles of some of those M-rated games on Wii and DS from earlier this year.

As other Nintendo reps have said before him, Fils-Aime thinks Chinatown Wars may have been counted out too soon by people focusing on its launch numbers. "In the handheld space, with Nintendo platforms specifically — whether it's Game Boy Advance or Nintendo DS — the fact is that first month sales really don't matter," he said. "You have a title like Mario Kart, in its first month, a holiday month that did just over 200,000 copies. New Super Mario Brothers, which launched in the summer, did over 150,000 in its first month. Those are not huge numbers, yet both of those have gone on to sell more than four million units apiece and to be in the top 10 total industry titles for the last two years running. So, first month doesn't matter in the handheld space as long as it's a high-quality game, which Chinatown Wars is, has some continuous level of marketing support — whether its retail marketing, consumer marketing, online — as long as you keep the buzz going it will continue to sell millions and millions. And that's my expectation for Chinatown Wars. As long as the team at Take Two and Rockstar give it a long life, it will do very well."

Reggie said he would have liked to have seen higher sales for MadWorld but doesn't think its launch counts out other M-rated Wii games. "The challenge with home console is that for a 'gamer game' you need to have the buzz and the expectation early and you need to support the title for a number of months to drive the sales. On both of those fronts, I'm not sure MadWorld was able to do that."
It's not an M-rated Wii game, but EA Sports Active just had a blockbuster debut of supposedly more than 600,000 copies sold in its first two weeks, according to EA.

Those are the arguments. Don't count Wii and DS third-party games out for 2009 yet, Nintendo says. There will plenty of high profile games to test that.

The Conduit is out this month. Dead Space Extraction ships in September.