Video-Game Publishers Ride Wii Wave

Third-Party Publishers to Roll Out Plethora of Titles as Nintendo System Takes Off

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Waiting Game: Consumers Clamor for Wii

Don't expect the Wii faithful to sport suntans this summer.

Nintendo's announcement last week that it has 45 Wii games (and 70 DS games) in the pipeline stirred a lot of excitement, considering the console launched in November with just 23 games. "The big problem Nintendo faced in the past was there just wasn't that much software available," said David Cole, analyst with DFC Intelligence. "They've learned their lesson."
Coming soon: Activision's 'Shrek the Third' and 'Spider-Man 3' for Wii
Coming soon: Activision's 'Shrek the Third' and 'Spider-Man 3' for Wii

Still, the Wii games have been fairly predictable -- like the sports titles packaged with the console and franchise hit "Zelda" -- so it's likely the blockbusters are still to come. Nintendo seems ready to push a lot of its own titles, and third-party developers caught off-guard by Wii's popularity are anxious to catch up.

Stronger foundation
"In the past, third-party support for Nintendo hasn't been very strong, especially with GameCube and Nintendo 64, because there wasn't much confidence that they could establish an installed base to sell to. Now the opposite is true. The DS-installed base is already strong, and it looks like Wii will be too," said IDC analyst Billy Pidgeon.

Big publishers such as Electronic Arts and Activision did throw initial support behind Wii but recently have stepped up efforts. EA CEO Larry Probst in February told analysts the company has 15 titles in development and would significantly increase support for Nintendo platforms. Activision CEO Mike Griffith told analysts in March the company will double its number of Wii and DS titles this fiscal year.

With more consoles available, Nintendo and its ad agency, Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett USA, and third-party developers are expected to mount sizable marketing campaigns to push coming titles. The most-anticipated Nintendo-published Wii games include franchise extensions such as "Super Mario Galaxy," "Metroid Prime 3" and "Super Smash Brothers Brawl."

Glut of games
Activision said it is planning campaigns for spring and summer titles "Shrek the Third," "Spider-Man 3" and "Transformers: The Game," as well as others coming later this year.

Also expected to make a loud debut this year is EA's first exclusive game for Wii, called "Boogie." The "creative party experience" game, which will allow users to dance, sing and star in their own videos, is expected by the end of the year. Wieden & Kennedy handles EA.

Other highly anticipated Wii titles include darker and more mature games such as "No More Heroes" and "Resident Evil 4." The level of violence and gore likely will eliminate much mainstream marketing; however, expect online chatter among gamers, if the titles are good, to help ratchet up sales.
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