Massive, obviously. It is reviewing as being one of the best games ever. A major coup for Nintendo (NTDOY.PK), following so close after Super Mario Galaxy [SMG] and preceding Mario Kart. This is like an AAA production line and will do much to give the Wii a far higher attach rate than many (including me) were expecting.
So it has sold 840,000 in its launch week in Japan, getting to one million after eleven days. And with expectation at a fever pitch, it will definitely launch at number one in America and Europe. But will it be one of the biggest games of 2008? No, and the reasons are obvious. For the same reason that SMG, also one of the best reviewing games ever, was only number 30 in the UK sales chart for the whole of last year.
Basically Super Smash Bros, Brawl [SSBB] and SMG are gamer’s games. They are mainly bought by people for whom gaming is a hobby. And whilst many Wii owners are gamers, most of them aren’t. Most Wii owners are casual game players, and whilst some of these may well be interested in SSBB, most won’t be.
A major difference between gamer's games and casual games is the profile of sales over time. Gamers games sell massively at launch but after just a few weeks they are selling very few. Casual games just sell steadily and keep on selling. Just look at how long Brain Age has been in the charts, for instance.
Another disadvantage facing SSBB is that there are a lot more HD consoles (Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox 360 and Sony (SNE) Playstation PS3) in the world than there are Wiis, and most HD console owners are gamers. So gamer's games brought out on both HD consoles have the potential to massively outsell SSBB, even if they are not as good as games. GTA IV will sell several times as many as SSBB, and by the end of the year there will be many HD titles that feature on the annual charts ahead of SSBB.
But it is not just the HD titles that will outsell SSBB. There are Wii titles that will. The casual titles. Wii Fit for instance. Admittedly it took a few weeks to sell its first million in Japan, but this was because it was supply limited, they couldn’t make enough Balance Boards. They probably won’t be able to make enough to meet worldwide demand for some time. Meanwhile, it will keep on selling. Week after week, month after month. After SSBB is long forgotten Fit will still be in the charts. So by the end of the year it will be well ahead. Maybe by a factor of two or even three.
Also, from Nintendo’s point of view, Fit is a lot more important than SSBB. Because Fit will be a system seller, bringing the Wii to whole new demographics, whilst SSBB will mainly sell to existing owners.