Anyone who obsesses over NPD numbers, Media Create data and other signifying-nothing sales info needs to get over themselves. There's a new numbers obsession to be had: the Nintendo Channel.
As of last Monday the Wii's Nintendo Channel in the U.S. started spitting out usage stats for most Wii games. Anyone who opted in and let Nintendo snoop into their play history has been contributing to a public trove of great game usage data. And we can now use these numbers for speculation at cocktail parties and on our favorite forums. Nintendo may have just unleashed the best new tool for message board argument since the animated GIF.
To wit: did you think people only bought Wii Play for the remote? If so, you're wrong. The Nintendo Channel reports that its data-sharing users have played this game for more then four million hours, averaging nine hours per person. They're actually playing this game! The channel also indicates that people who own or rented Wii Play have played it an average of 9.75 times. So much for the remote theory.
I've got more numbers for you. I crunched WiiWare numbers on my own blog and a ton of Wii disc numbers below…
Ugly And Pretty Usage Numbers For Wii Games, Crunched From Wii Nintendo Channel
(While we don't know just how many people are sharing data with the Nintendo Channel, some of the numbers below indicate that it is at least several hundred thousand system owners.)
Boom Blox: Nintendo Channel users have each logged an average of 8 hours and 25 minutes with this game, playing the game about 3.8 sessions per system it's been in. Is this good? Bad? The game's been out for a little more than a month and the people who've bought it have played it about four times. You tell me.
Wii Fit: The same population of Nintendo Channel users gave this game an average of 9 hours 14 minutes played per person. Each person has played it an average of 5.7 times. So people are using this game more often than they're using Boom Blox. A victory for Wii Fit? Maybe not, if the idea that the game should be played every day. Maybe newer users are skewing the numbers. Or maybe people aren't sticking to their daily workouts.
Wii Sports: Now this should put all the numbers here in perspective. This game is a beast, played by data-sharing Channel users for 24,740,000 hours over the course of 21,100,000 sessions. These people, per person, have spent a ludicrous 33 hours and six minutes with this game. That's a lot of bowling and tennis. Each system that the game's been played on has hosted an average 28.3 times. Using my master's degree, I can deduce that this means that people buy a Wii, insert Wii Sports and then play it again and again and again.
Carnival Games: Did you turn your nose up at this game? Did you assume people bought it by mistake, getting hoodwinked by cute boxart into thinking it was as good as Wii Sports? If so, you may have thought that, once people got it home, they'd decide it stinks and never play it again. Oh, no no no. The Nintendo Channel reports that people playing it have logged an average of 7 hours and 44 minutes total play time across 5.6 sessions since buying (or renting) the game. That's not bad. But do compare it to the barely month-old Boom Blox numbers above. Which game would you say is proving more of a hit in households that bought it?
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: Here it is. The hardcore gamer's game for the Wii. It's logged 4,113,000 hours of total play time by Nintendo Channel users. The average total playtime for a gamer who owns MP3 is 21 hours and 16 minutes, meaning people are playing this thing to the end. They do it across 9.9 sessions. And if you start doing some fancy math with the numbers in this entry and the ones above, you may notice that the casual games seem to get played an average of an hour per session. But this hardcore game ropes in its players for two hours at a time.
Okami: On the other hand, there's Okami for the Wii. It's players have given it an average of 5.7 sessions since buying or renting it. But here's the part that makes me feel good and bad at the same time. The people who own this game and report their stats to the Nintendo Channel have played the game an average total of 14 hours and 25 minutes. The problem is that the game takes more than 25 hours to finish. I beat it in over 30. What's that tell you? Right. They're not finishing it. It was me, my friends, who suggested that maybe, possibly Okami on PS2 was a tad too long and could stand some trimming when released for the Wii. I was given a lot of grief. But look, compared to Metroid, people don't seem to be finishing the game.
Guitar Hero III: Remember the theory that third party games can't cut it on the Wii? You've probably already seen this game's high sales numbers. Here's something even more incredible for you to comprehend. Ten million hours logged by Nintendo Channel data-sharing users. Six million sessions. An average of thirty play sessions per owner. And here it is, the big stat (so big I'm going to step away from my keyboard to double-check this — okay. I'm back)…. The average amount of total play time, per Wii owner, for GH III is 53 hours and 28 minutes! Yeah. That's impressive. It obliterates Metroid Prime and Wii Sports combined. People put this disc in their Wii, and apparently they do not take it out. I do believe that people like playing Guitar Hero. It is proven.
In conclusion: Do you remember the time when NPDs were the most fun gaming numbers to crunch? That day is past. So I call on you, the Kotaku readers, the NeoGAF hordes, the VGChartz mathematicians, and I call on all of the armchair Pachters out there. Embrace the Nintendo Channel. Drink the numbers down. And start doing the science.
All of the above numbers can be found in the Nintendo Channel on the respective page for each game (Just don't look for No More Heroes stats. I tried. They're not in there.)
Check out the MTV Multiplayer blog for similar number crunching for Nintendo's WiiWare games.