Welcome to a month of declines. Every month we at Kotaku show which Wii games have racked up the most playing time, per player, since launch. And this month, all but two of the 10 declined or were flat.
(Click the chart to enlarge)
Rune Factory Frontier and Lego Star Wars were the only games that showed any increase in average per-player playing time. Super Smash Bros. stayed flat at the top. Everything else went down, including Rock Band 2, which shed more than an hour of average playing time.
If a game's average playing time drops, that's not a definite sign of diminished popularity. In fact, if a lot of new people buy a game, their low playing times will drag down the overall average. That said, the general trends held, with the same games staying in the top 10 and the number 11 game trailing Lego Star Wars by a few hours. It seems that nothing is going to come close to dislodging this group.
For those curious about amount of movement in the numbers, or lack thereof, a stagnant Smash Bros. average playing time doesn't indicate a lack of Smash Bros. playing. As of January 1st, the Nintendo Wii Channel, which is Kotaku's source for this data, had collected proof of 105 million hours of Smash playing time among the Channel's users. A month later, that total was close to 110 million hours. So more hours were played, but the average time per player since launch just didn't budge.
Low-selling games take a while to show up with any stats at all in the Nintendo Channel. It seems that Channel users need to log at least 50,000 hours of them and possibly the games just need to be added. So Tony Hawk Ride, released last fall, finally made that cut, with an average playing time of 4 hours, 44 minutes, across the 50,581 hours logged by Channel users. Compare that to another recent release, Harvest Moon: Animal Parade, which has 73,231 hours and already an average playing time of 37 hours and 41 minutes per player. Not a popular game, but one whose owners really, really like it. In fact, that game may have a shot at getting in this top 10.
I'll have more on these Wii stats including some interesting performance by some other titles later this week.
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 94 million sessions of that game have been played by Nintendo Channel users as of February 1 (up 6 million in the last month), for an average of 29.5 sessions per player. That divides to more than 3.2 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 3.2 million people have contributed stats. That is up from the 2.9 million people when these numbers were run for January 1. (October 09 data is not included on the chart due to a problem with Nintendo's data reporting in the previous month.)