'Wii Music' U.S. Launch Sales One Tenth Of 'Wii Fit' Debut Mark, Nintendo Not Panicking

First month sales of Nintendo's newest Wii-branded game, the ambitious and unusual "Wii Music," released last month fell far short of the mark set by May's "Wii Fit" in its first month.

But Nintendo is not expressing concern yet.

"You'll see in [the NPD sales] that it did about somewhere [like] 65 or 66,000 based on our internal numbers for the two weeks that was reported," Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo's executive vice president of sales and marketing, told Multiplayer in an interview at the New York Grand Hyatt yesterday.

By comparison, NPD reported that "Wii Fit" sold more than 687,000 copies in its first month of sale.

These aren't blockbuster numbers, but Dunaway offered an explanation for the game's performance:

"We're predicting that it's going to be an evergreen title. And if you look at titles like 'Brain Age,' it's about the same as what 'Brain Age' did during it's first few weeks and went on to sell 2.5 million copies. 'Wii Fit' certainly had a larger launch than that. But I think that people are starting to understand 'Wii Music.'"

"We're predicting that it's going to be an evergreen title."

In general, Nintendo hardware and software is hot. The Wii sold more than 800,000 units in October. "Wii Play" sold 282,000 copies, according to NPD. "Mario Kart Wii" sold 290,000. And "Wii Fit" tallied another 487,000 units that month. Those games do have legs, having each been on the market for months. (The new "Guitar Hero" for Wii also performed well, selling more than 183,000 units and easily outselling "Wii Music" despite coming out two weeks later.)

"Wii Music," which has received harsher reviews from critics from the average Nintendo title, could just be a harder sell. "People have a box in their head of what music genre games are all about," Dunaway said. "And we're doing something that is a complete departure from that. As people start to experience that and tell other people about it, I have no doubt that 'Wii Music' is going to be a long-selling, top-selling game for us."

Dunaway expressed a personal goal for selling the game: "I feel as EVP of sales and marketing, [it is] both a responsibility and a real opportunity and privilege to take this game that is so unique and so much from the heart of Mr. [Shigeru] Miyamoto, and make sure that people are exposed to it and understand it." To that end, Dunaway said Nintendo has been showcasing "Wii Music" with local musicians around the country and is working with schools and an organization representing 100,000 music educators in America to integrate the game into a music education curriculum.

So if anyone compares "Wii Fit" launch sales to "Wii Music" sales and deem the latter a failure, they'd be wrong? "They'd be off-base to say that," Dunaway said. "Very few of our titles are launch-and-move-on these days. Certainly something like 'Wii Music,' we have a long-term commitment to."

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