Next month will be historic. This month is merely nearly historic. Smash Bros. clings to the top spot as America's most-loved Wii game in the latest update to our Nintendo stat-tracking. Plus, there is a new contender.
(Click the chart to enlarge it.)
Welcome to the September edition of our monthly measure of Wii-gaming pleasure. We are not tracking the top-selling Wii games. Who cares? People buy games and don't play them. Which games, you ask, do people actually keep on playing? That's what Nintendo tracks and makes available to the public. That's what we throw into gorgeous chart form every month.
Three things jump out at me on this month's chart.
1) Super Smash Bros Is In Trouble: Nintendo's brawler will probably toppled by Monster Hunter Tri next month. You had a good run, Smash brothers.
2) Naruto Joins The Fray: WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2009 drops from the list, replaced by a Naruto game. More lower-list shake-ups are coming. Pro Evo 2010 is on the verge of breaking in and even New Super Mario Bros. Wii is getting close to marching into this chart.
3) Lego Star Wars, Steady As She Goes: Is Lego Star Wars the inevitable winner of all this? The game is a tortoise.
Here's the Top 20 games from the chart in list form. I'm including the cumulative lifetime play-time counts, as of September 1, 2010 in hours and minutes. You can see just how close some of these games are.
1. Super Smash Bros. Brawl - 77:54
2. Monster Hunter Tri - 75:02 (up from the 3rd spot)
3. Animal Crossing: City Folk - 73:38 (down from the 2nd spot)
4. Harvest Moon: Animal Parade - 62:14
5. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock - 57:03
6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex Edition - 55:53
7. Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility - 52:22
8. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn - 51:59
9. Call of Duty: World at War - 51:06
10. Rune Factory: Frontier - 49:41
11. Rock Band 2 - 48:42
12. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga - 48:34
13. WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2010 - 48:16 (up from the 14th spot)
14. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - 47:37 (down from the 13th spot)
15. Tales of Symphonia - 40:58
16. Mario Kart Wii - 40:17
17. Wii Sports - 39:24
18. FIFA Soccer 09 All-Play - 38:41
19. Guitar Hero: World Tour - 37:41
20. Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 - 36:10 (new entry)
Where's all this from? (AKA an explanation of the above chart for stat junkies only): In a move somewhat surprising for the generally secretive company, Nintendo makes all of this data public. Any Wii owner can download the Nintendo Channel to their Wii and begin browsing for games. Any game that has been played enough times has usage stats listed for it, contributed by anyone who chose to share their data with the channel. The sample size that the channel tracks is pretty good, though it is obviously biased toward users who hook up a Wii to the Internet. We calculate that sample size by looking at Wii Sports usage numbers, which show that more than 121 million sessions of that game have been played by Nintendo Channel users as of September 1 (up 4 million in the last month), for an average of 31.11 sessions per player. That divides to around 3.9 million Wii Sports users whose gaming has been tracked by the channel. Since almost all Wii Sports owners in North America would be Wii users, we will venture that as many as 3.9 million people have contributed stats. That is up from the 3.8 million people when these numbers were run for August 1. (Please not that in the chart atop this post October 09 data is not included due to a problem with Nintendo's data reporting during that period.)