Since the days of its inception, the Wii has often been misnomered as a “kiddie” system. The idea that the Wii would thrive as a playground for shovelware from money-hungry third party publishers became commonplace in the world of gaming. Gamers were ready to tag the labels on all of their favorite next-gen systems, with Nintendo continuing its reign of family-friendliness.
After much scrubbing, the labels can be removed.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board has worked to give out little letters that tell us who’s hands certain games belong in. Parents, when aware (or sane), can use these ratings as an indicator to tell what games their children can play.
To date, the ESRB has listed 425+ titles that appear on the Wii with ratings of E (Everyone) and E10+ (Everyone age 10 and older). Don’t snicker yet, well over 200 of these listed games are on Nintendo’s Virtual Console, many dating back to the NES.
These Virtual Console titles don’t count when considering the aspect of appearing on the Wii. The mislabel of the Wii as a “kiddie” system amongst others especially comes from the remote-waggling abilities of its motion-sensing features. Since Virtual Console games don’t utilize these features, not to mention they debuted on many previous systems, they don’t appear in this count. And since the data was pulled prior to the North American Wii Ware release, Wii Ware titles aren’t included, either.
Regardless, that leaves us with close to 180 Wii games that are rated E or E10+. Seems like a lot for a young system.
But it is more fun to divide games up by what systems they appear on. All of the titles obviously appear on the Wii, but do they do so exclusively?
So the Wii-exclusive titles and the multi-platform titles need to be divided up:
A total of 61.45% of these “everyone” titles for Wii are non-exclusives. At this point, expect a voice to cry out, “What about the DS? Everyone knows that these E-rated Wii shovelware non-exclusives are just Nintendo exclusives, like Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games!” Fair enough.
Splitting up that 61.45%, we find that only 8.38% are Wii-DS exclusive titles. That means that 53.07% of kiddie Wii games are very multiplatform. In fact, one of the most common systems a Wii game would appear on is the PS2, in fact.
So one thing can be clear; kiddie-shovelware is a multi-platform thing. Companies (like THQ, for instance,) don’t just aim for the Wii to fish for a parent’s unknowing wallet. Publishers try to get more bang for their buck.
Think of the common marketing executives at big-name publishers that still refer to video games as “toys.” In using mediocre games to get money, a marketer will try to make the game appeal to a larger audience (E ratings,) and reach a larger community by spanning multiple platforms. This is assuming that all E-rated games are bad.
Based on our next set of data, that isn’t too far from the truth.
Quantity in games is never as important as quality, all gamers can agree to this. Examining the same data as before, the quality of these games can provide another angle to this issue.
Using GameRankings, a popular site that averages credible review scores in order to help gamers in their purchasing decisions, the average review scores for the E/E10+ rated Wii games helps determine the quality of the Wii titles in question.
What does this tell us? E-rated Wii titles tend to do better when they’re not alone (unless they’re made by Nintendo themselves, who is infamous for developing quality titles).
The worst of the bunch is precisely what would be expected: 3rd-party Wii exclusives. Though only a few percentage points behind the other catagories, games in this section are made by the companies that bring you Action Girlz Racing, Offroad Extreme, Hooked! Real Motion Fishing, and Monster Trux Arenas.
With roughly 3% between Wii exclusives and Non-exclusives, there isn’t much of a difference between the two in terms of quality on Nintendo’s platform. It is mostly a pile of stink. Nintendo proves in their own way that games for “everyone” can be good.
As seen in the data, certain companies are contributing to the exclusive stink. Conspiracy Entertainment are responsible for most of the Wii-exclusive shovelware, accounting for roughly 20% of the games with an average score of 30.92%. Destineer has 16% of the exclusives with an average score of 23.5%. Notably, no other company has put out more than 4 titles for the Wii exclusively. Big players like EA, Konami, Tecmo, and Capcom have put out 1-3 games each, and their average scores are well over 70%. Almost all of these “few gems” are retreads on older IPs as well.
In scouring the databases for game ratings and scores, not every game could have a score accompanying it. The reviewers can’t be blamed for not regarding Cocoto Kart Racer or My French Coach as games worth reviewing. In terms of the data gathered, they simply aren’t accounted for in the ratings spectrum. Interestingly, there were (as of this data being pulled,) four Wii-exclusive games and 11 non-exclusive games that didn’t have review scores.
And roughly all of them will appear in the $9.99 bin at Wal-Mart. Just keep walking, you can save some cash and get the Wii Zapper or some points for the Wii Shop to pick up a brand-new Wii Ware game.
This also begs the question, are kids not as picky about games nowadays? I rocked the Mega Man X games and F-Zero all the time on the Super NES. To be honest, I also spent plenty of time with Ren & Stimpy: Veediots and Hook, both being pretty unforgiving, relatively low-quality platformers. Do kids really like Wing Island?
Overall, the best way to take this data is lightly. If you’re reading this, you may not be into E-rated games regardless of what system they appear on. And if you’re a Wii gamer, know that you don’t have to. More developers are taking risks on the Wii with games like No More Heroes, but publishers need to follow suit. Kids can be risky too (I fell out of many a tree as a youngster, I was a risky one).
And if we want to follow the little kid in all of us, there are plenty of places to find the games that appease that.