Why Game & Wario Makes me worry for the future of the Wario series
When it comes to the Wario series, it’s never been particularly mainstream. Oh sure, the first game sold about 5 million copies and a couple of the more successful Wario Land and WarioWare titles sold about 2 million overall, but the series has generally been seen as a Nintendo C lister in terms of franchise relevance and popularity.
But even for the unpopularity of the series in general, I have to say I’m more than a tad worried about Game & Wario and the possible effects it could have on the franchise’s future. Why? Here’s my reasons:
Nintendo’s franchise culling comments about Fire Emblem put the Wario series in trouble
First and foremost is this. Just a few days ago, someone from Intelligent Systems mentioned in an interview that Fire Emblem Awakening could have been the last Fire Emblem game if it’d failed to sell. Here’s the quote in question:
if the sales of this episode stayed below 250,000 copies, we’d stop working on the saga.
Now thankfully, this was averted when it came to Fire Emblem. Awakening sold millions of copies and shot straight up the sales charts, everyone liked it, and now the series has basically been saved from imminent demise as a result.
But do you know what series I fear might not be so lucky?
The Wario series.
Think about it. WarioWare DIY and Snapped kind of bombed, with the latter only selling about half a million copies worldwide. Wario Master of Disguise and Shake It didn’t do much better, with the former never managing to cross the million copies mark and the latter just barely managing it. And Game & Wario doesn’t look like it’s going to do much better, with the game selling just 50 000 copies in Japan as of this point in time.
Above: Remember this game? Nor do many other people apparently.
That’s not exactly good for series viability. Remember, Miyamoto basically shut down F-Zero over similar sales, Advance Wars has apparently vanished without a trace and Starfy pretty much became fish food as a result of similar sales figures. Now keep in mind that Nintendo were ready to basically shut down Fire Emblem for about the same amount of sales, and it really does make me worry that the Wario series could be next.
Above: What happened to Advance Wars since this game?
But it doesn’t end there. You know what else is worrying? How Game & Wario seems to be literally the worst possible game to release now…
Game & Wario is the wrong game at the wrong time on the wrong console…
But even if the Wario series isn’t doing so great at the moment, then there’s always a chance a successful new game could encourage the makers to keep it going. After all, Fire Emblem Awakening smashed records and outdid everyone’s predictions, and that was enough to save Fire Emblem…
Unfortunately, we then get to another problem. Game & Wario is literally in the worst possible situation of any modern Nintendo game ever when it comes to sales.
For starters, it’s being released on the Wii U, a console which has so far failed to take off and has sold about 4 million units worldwide. Why is this a concern you may ask?
Well to put it bluntly, even the likes of New Super Mario Bros U haven’t smashed sales records on a console that’s still not selling too well. And that’s about as mainstream a Nintendo game as you can imagine.
Above: This game failed to sell Wii U systems. A game from a series which sold about 20 million copies on the Wii and DS.
So what we now need is an obscure title like Game & Wario to literally sell to about a quarter of all current Wii U owners in the world, or push sales of the system significantly enough that people are willing to buy the console to play it. This is extremely unlikely to happen given that even the best games in the franchise haven’t sold 3 million copies on a console that’s sold about 100 million units. The Wario franchise is about as much of a system seller as F-Zero, Advance Wars or Starfy, aka not in the slightest.
Above: Its direct competitor Nintendo Land failed to sell Wii Us too. Game & Wario is basically in the exact same genre, and potentially with about half the mainstream appeal.
It’s also being released just a week or so after E3. Problem? Well E3 is where many ‘major’ games get announced. You know, like Super Mario 3D, Super Smash Bros 4, maybe new Zelda, Mario Kart, all those titles. And some of them are going to be out this year.
So not only does Game & Wario have to compete with all the other ‘summer’ games (like Pikmin 3 and Mario & Luigi Dream Team Bros), but also every single game that’s announced at E3 or the Nintendo Directs being held at around the same time. This means that it doesn’t have the advantage of being bought just so Wii U fans have ‘something’ to play until the big titles are released, since many of them will likely just wait a few more weeks or months for the games they’ve been saving for and discussing for about 4 years now.
Above: Some of the many, many 3DS games people might want to buy instead of this or a Wii U…
Above: And if Smash Bros, 3D Mario, Zelda U or Mario Kart comes out this year, people will save their money for those instead.
Think of it like this. You’ve got this interesting new gadget you want people to buy. And then right when it’s due to be released, Apple comes out with a new iPhone announcement, complete with comments that it’ll be out before the year’s end. People are just going to wait for the super fancy new product with a trusted brand than buy something else in the meantime. I worry this same situation could happen to Game & Wario.
To make things worse, this isn’t a normal game with a whole lot of mainstream appeal. It’s a mini game collection on a console which already has a mini game collection in the form of Nintendo Land (a game which has already kind of underperformed as is even despite being bundled with the system), it’s got some fairly mediocre reviews on both English and Japanese gaming websites, and looks about as wacky and unique as you can possibly imagine, in a market which seems to absolutely hate anything that looks remotely anime style or wacky in the slightest.
Above: One hell of a difficult sell in the US and European market
So yeah, Game & Wario has quite the odds stacked against it. A game from a fairly unpopular genre on a currently underperforming games console with a quirky art style and gameplay mechanics in a series which has failed to sell for the last four games straight. It really does make me a tad nervous for the future of the Wario series in general at this point, and it’s enough that I think Nintendo is going to need one hell of a marketing plan to try to save the series.
Do you worry that Game & Wario could lead to the end of the Wario series in the same way Fire Emblem Awakening nearly did for Fire Emblem or various F-Zero games did for F-Zero? And how in the name of anyone is Nintendo going to try to market Game & Wario outside of Japan?