Wii Software Stats December Update: 'Madden' Shock And More Bad News For 'Wii Music'

Things I've learned this month:

*People who bought or rented "Wii Music," on average, played it several hours less since launch those who have played Wii versions of "Call of Duty," "Guitar Hero," and "Animal Crossing" -- three games that came out weeks after Nintendo's musical game. Problem?

*In November 2008, the most fervently played game on the Wii among a population of 1.4 million possible Wii owners was... "Madden All-Play 09," logging almost three hours of play time per person. That crushes average playing time stats in the same month for "Smash Brothers," "Rock Band" and "Mario Kart."

*"World of Goo" racked up at least 9,300 non-pirated copies sold to those 1.4 million Wii owners in November. Take that, pirates!

These are just some of the discoveries in our fourth number-filled breakdown of Wii software usage stats. We're dong this monthly and we can pull numbers for (almost) any Wii game that's been out for at least a month. Who needs NPDs? And who needs exit poll numbers?

See below to learn a LOT about the performance of 33 Wii games, including new entries for the mighty "Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess," the surprising "My Pokemon Ranch" and the statistically scary "Wario Land: Shake It."

Remember! I'm not tracking sales. I'm tracking how much time the people who play and rent these games actually play them. See it all for yourself:

WII SOFTWARE USAGE AS OF DECEMBER 1, 2008

The following statistics are pulled from the Wii's Nintendo Channel, which allows users to persistently share their play history for any disc or downloadable games played on the Wii. These numbers do not reflect overall usage of these games on the Wii but instead reflect usage of the more than 1.4 million Americans who are sharing info with the channel (up from 1.3 million last month). We think that's a pretty healthy sample size!

Games are ranked in order of average play time. The game we're tracking that has been played the longest by its average user is at the top of this list.

If there are more games you want us to track, let us know!

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Released March 2008)

Current Rank: #1 Last Month's Rank: #1

Raw data for "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 64 hours, 10 minutes (up 86 minutes)

As of 11/2: 62 hours, 44 minutes

As of 10/5: 61 hours, 24 minutes

As of 9/1: 59 hours 59 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 27.38 sessions (up .98 sessions)

As of 11/2: 26.40

As of 10/5: 25.54

As of 9/1: 24.65

Analysis: Nintendo's early 2008 love letter to its hardcore fans (i.e. the people who decided to hate the company this fall) remains the most feverishly played game among the 1.4 million Nintendo Channel users and therefore, it's a safe bet, among all Wii owners in America. And wouldn't you know that it's expanding its lead in average time spent per-player over 'Guitar Hero III"! I don't think "GHIII" can catch it, especially not if Wii owners switch over to "Guitar Hero World Tour."

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Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Released October 2007)

Current Rank: #2 Last Month's Rank: #2

Raw data for "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" usage

Total play time by Nintendo Channel Users

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 58 hours, 31 minutes (up 45 minutes)

As of 11/2: 57 hours, 46 minutes

As of 10/5: 57 hours, 7 minutes

As of 9/1: 56 hours, 30 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 33.89 sessions (up .69 sessions)

As of 11/2: 33.20 sessions

As of 10/5: 32.65 sessions

As of 9/1: 32 (est.)

Analysis: Activision's music game is going strong and still has a commanding lead over "Rock Band" Wii. The fact that it's been on the market for more than half a year longer may have something to do with that. Oh, and this game still boasts an amazing number of sessions per player. Take that, "Smash."

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*NEW ENTRY* The Legend OF Zelda: Twilight Princess (Released November 2006)

Current Rank: #3 Last Month's Rank: #NA

Raw data for "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 46 hours, 38 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 20.05 sessions

Analysis:I should have had this game on the list the first time out. Sorry! Wii owners have spent an impressive amount of time with this purely single-player game. And it looks like they play to the end, or pretty close to it.

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Wii Sports (Released November 2006)

Current Rank: #4 Last Month's Rank: #3

Raw data for "Wii Sports" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 35 hours, 23 minutes (up 19 minutes)

As of 11/2: 35 hours, 4 minutes

As of 10/5: 34 hours, 45 minutes

As of 9/1: 34 hours, 25 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 29.04 sessions (up .14 sessions)

As of 11/2: 28.9 sessions

As of 10/5: 28.72 sessions

As of 9/1: 28.56

Analysis: With the addition of "Zelda" to the list, "Wii Sports" falls a notch. Let's see if all the new Wii owners in November and December drag these stats down. More and more people will be logging just a few new sessions each in Nintendo's pack-in game. Shouldn't that bring the numbers down a tad?

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Rock Band (Released June 2008)

Current Rank: #5 Last Month's Rank: #4

Raw data for "Rock Band" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 28 hours, 34 minutes (up 114 minutes)

As of 11/2: 26 hours, 40 minutes

As of 10/5: 24 hours, 43 minutes

As of 9/1: 22 hours 37 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 14.94 sessions (up 1.48 sessions)

As of 11/2: 13.46 sessions

As of 10/5: 12.05 sessions

As of 9/1: 10.52

Analysis: Take a look at that first bolded number. The average play time on "Rock Band" shot up almost two hours during the month of November. That's a lot of "Rock Band" playing. People get this game and play it a ton.

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Mario Kart Wii (Released April 2008)

Current Rank: #6 Last Month's Rank: #6

Raw data for "Mario Kart Wii" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 26 hours, 49 minutes (up 62 minutes)

As of 11/2: 25 hours, 47 minutes

As of 10/5: 24 hours, 48 minutes

As of 9/1: 23 hours 42 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 15.44 sessions (up .83 sessions)

As of 11/2: 14.61 sessions

As of 10/5: 13.86 sessions

As of 9/1: 13.1

Analysis: "Mario Kart" leaps above "Madden NFL 08" for a healthy gain of an hour of game time per player in November. But it's got a ways to go before catching "Wii Sports."

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*NEW ENTRY* Super Mario Galaxy (Released November 2007)

Current Rank: #7 Last Month's Rank:NA

Raw data for "Super Mario Galaxy" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 26 hours, 25 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 13.57 sessions

Analysis: As with "Zelda," I should have been tracking this game already. Good numbers here. Let's see if they stay stable over the next few months, as have the numbers for other single-player-centric games like "Metroid Prime." The theory is that people get the game, play it, beat it, and leave it alone. They don't go back to it. We'll see...

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Madden NFL 08 (Released August 2007)

Current Rank: #8 Last Month's Rank: #5

Raw data for "Madden NFL 08" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 26 hours, 27 minutes (up 26 minutes)

As of 11/2: 26 hours, 1 minute

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 14.6 sessions (up .27 sessions)

As of 11/2: 14.33 sessions

Analysis: "Madden" drops a bit. Of course, the thing to watch here is whether this year's Wii-specific franchise reinvention "All-Play" catches it. The numbers I'm tracking here tell us how much each person who has a copy of a game likes their game enough to keep playing it. If "All-Play" can eventually rank higher than "NFL 08," then we can at least credit EA's designers with a success.

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Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Released August 2007)

Current Rank: #9 Last Month's Rank: #7

Raw data for "Metroid Prime3: Corruption" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 21 hours, 23 minutes (up 6 minutes)

As of 11/2: 21 hours, 17 minutes

As of 10/5: 21 hours, 14 minutes

As of 9/1: 21 hours, 11 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 9.92 sessions (up .04 sessions)

As of 11/2: 9.88 sessions

As of 10/5: 9.84 sessions

As of 9/1: 9.82

Analysis: "Metroid" numbers don't move. Every other game just moves around "Metroid."

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*NEW ENTRY* Guitar Hero: World Tour (Released October 2008)

Current Rank: #10 Last Month's Rank: #NA

Raw data for "Guitar Hero: World Tour" usage

Average time played per player:

Guitar Hero: World Tour

As of 12/1: 19 hours, 55 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 7.86 sessions

Analysis: This is one to watch. Will it catch "Rock Band"? Shouldn't it eventually surpass "Guitar Hero III"? And how far is it already ahead of "Wii Music"? Yikes.

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Okami (Released April 2008)

Current Rank: #11 Last Month's Rank: #8

Raw data for "Okami" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 19 hours, 31 minutes (up 35 minutes)

As of 11/2: 18 hours, 56 minutes

As of 10/5: 18 hours, 28 minutes

As of 9/1: 17 hours, 51 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 7.54 sessions (up .22 sessions)

As of 11/2: 7.32 sessions

As of 10/5: 7.12 sessions

As of 9/1: 6.9

Analysis: Slowly, surely, people are playing more "Okami." But these average play times still indicate that people aren't finishing this very long game.

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Madden All-Play (Released August 2008)

Current Rank: #12 Last Month's Rank: #10

Raw data for "Madden All-Play" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 18 hours, 14 minutes (up 176 minutes)

As of 11/2: 15 hours, 18 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 8.86 sessions (up 1.56 sessions)

As of 11/2: 7.3 sessions

Analysis:And... this game has now passed "Wii Fit." "All-Play" skeptics take note. In November the average play time went up almost three hours. That's the biggest boost of any game on this list.

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Wii Fit (Released May 2008)

Current Rank: #13 Last Month's Rank: #9

Raw data for "Wii Fit" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 16 hours, 16 minutes (up 35 minutes)

As of 11/2: 15 hours, 41 minutes

As of 10/5: 15 hours, 26 minutes

As of 9/1: 14 hours, 26 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 12.84 sessions (up .75 sessions)

As of 11/2: 12.09 sessions

As of 10/5: 11.33 sessions

As of 9/1: 10.59

Analysis:Given the numbers of copies "Wii Fit" sells, it's hard to interpret these numbers. It seems that there's a new owner of "Wii Fit" every minute. So, by definition, some people only have a few sessions logged because they only just got the game. The fact that the average play time still goes up as much as it does despite all the new purchases is amazing.

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*NEW ENTRY* Animal Crossing: City Folk (Released November 2008)

Current Rank: #14 Last Month's Rank: #NA

Raw data for "Animal Crossing: City Folk" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 15 hours, 22 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 5.3 sessions

Analysis:These are good numbers that suggest that the idea of "Animal Crossing" works. Here's a game that's only been out less than a month and already people have poured a lot of time into it. What we should see with this game is a rapidly increasing average number of sessions per player, given that "Animal Crossing" is all about players coming back to the game day after day. I'll be surprised if that doesn't happen.

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*NEW ENTRY* Call of Duty: World At War (Released November 2008)

Current Rank: #15 Last Month's Rank: #NA

Raw data for "Call of Duty: World At War" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 14 hours, 30 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 5.22 sessions

Analysis:Who says macho mainstream gamers don't play Wii games? They played, on average, 14 hours of this M-rated first-person shooter in November. Ah, but the 1.4 million users of the Nintendo Channel who contributed the stats I'm drawing from logged just 54,483 hours on the game in November. That accounts for about 3,800 copies of the game being played by these 1.4 million.  Doesn't seem like this game's going to be a blockbuster on Wii, even if you account for Nintendo Channel users representing a little under a 10th of American Wii owners.

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed(Released September 2008)

Current Rank: #16 Last Month's Rank: #11

Raw data for "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 13 hours, 30 minutes (up 57 minutes)

As of 11/2: 12 hours, 33 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 5.82 sessions (up .65 sessions)

As of 11/2: 5.17 sessions

Analysis: Not bad. I didn't think "Star Wars" had another hour worth of game to be played by the average game. Maybe it's taking them longer to clear it on the Wii than it took me to beat on the Xbox 360? Or are people going back for a second adventure?

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*NEW ENTRY* Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (Released June 2008)

Current Rank: #17 Last Month's Rank: N/A

Raw data for "Guitar Hero: Aerosmith" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 12 hours, 24 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 7.79 sessions

Analysis: Wondering how a "Guitar Hero" spin-off compares to the real thing? See here and compare it to the juggernauts above. Answer: not nearly as well.

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Boom Blox (Released May 2008)

Current Rank: #18 Last Month's Rank: #12

Raw data for "Boom Blox" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 12 hours, 15 minutes (up 22 minutes)

As of 11/2: 11 hours, 53 minutes

As of 10/5: 11 hours, 32 minutes

As of 9/1: 11 hours, 8 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 5.9 sessions (up .25 sessions)

As of 11/2: 5.65 sessions

As of 10/5: 5.41 sessions

As of 9/1: 5.16

Analysis: Inching along. It's as if this was gaming's "Dark Side of the Moon."

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*NEW ENTRY*  No More Heroes (Released January 2008)

Current Rank: #19 Last Month's Rank: N/A

Raw data for "No More Heroes" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 11 hours, 35 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 5.46 sessions

Analysis: By popular demand, I added this game to the ones I'm tracking. And what can we conclude from this? I could have sworn it took me more than 11 hours to clear this game, but not that much more.

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Wii Play (Released February 2007)

Current Rank: #20 Last Month's Rank: #13

Raw data for "Wii Play" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 9 hours, 45 minutes (up 9 minutes)

As of 11/2: 9 hours, 36 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 10.42 sessions (up .12 sessions)

As of 11/2: 10.28 sessions

Analysis: OK. So the barely-budging numbers here imply that people aren't continuing to play this game very much a few months after they've bought it. But they're still finding a way to log almost 10 hours with it before the slowdown. This game might even pass "No More Heroes" in the amount of time people who have it wind up playing it. Wild, huh?

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Carnival Games (Released August 2007)

Current Rank: #21 Last Month's Rank: #14

Raw data for "Carnival Games" Wii usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 8 hours, 48 minutes (up 11 minutes)

As of 11/2: 8 hours, 37 minutes

As of 10/5: 8 hours, 30 minutes

As of 9/1: 8 hours, 21 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 6.48 sessions (up .17 sessions)

As of 11/2: 6.31 sessions

As of 10/5: 6.19 sessions

As of 9/1: 6.07

Analysis: Holding steady, though it should be noted that this game's ranking on this list dropped far only because I added so many new games.

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*NEW ENTRY* Wii Music (Released October 2008)

Current Rank: #22 Last Month's Rank: N/A

Raw data for "Wii Music" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 7 hours, 28 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 4.05 sessions

Analysis: This is scary for Nintendo. We know the game didn't sell all that well in Japan or America. But people at Nintendo have maintained that those who got their hands on the game would come to understand it and embrace it. That's not happening. Look what happens when people get this game for rental or purchase. On average they play it four times, for about seven and a half hours. That's not much of a display of passion, not compared to how people played "Call of Duty: World At War," "Guitar Hero: World Tour" and "Animal Crossing: City Folk," all of which were released after "Wii Music."

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*NEW ENTRY* Wario Land: Shake It (Released September 2008)

Current Rank: #23 Last Month's Rank: N/A

Raw data for "Wario Land: Shake It" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 6 hours, 45 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 3.9 sessions

Analysis: Is "Wario" only a six-hour game? It didn't hold my interest for even half of that time. Way up near the top of the list we see how avidly people played Nintendo's 2006 and 2007 fall single-player games. Down here at the bottom, we see how little they've played of Nintendo's fall 2008 solo adventure. Dreadful.

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WII WARE LISTINGS

Final Fantasy: My Life As A King (Released May 2008)

Current Rank: #1 Last Month's Rank: 1

Raw data for "Final Fantasy: My Life As A King " usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 15 hours, 11 minutes (up 18 minutes)

As of 11/2: 14 hours, 53 minutes

As of 10/5: 14 hours, 39 minutes

As of 9/1: 14 hours 16 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 6.87 sessions (up .2 sessions)

As of 11/2: 6.67 sessions

As of 10/5: 6.49 sessions

As of 9/1: 6.25

Analysis: This game's the WiiWare king. But, below, I see some contenders to the throne.

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*NEW ENTRY* Dr. Mario Online Rx (Released May 2008)

Current Rank: #2 Last Month's Rank: N/A

Raw data for "Dr. Mario RX" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 14 hours, 1 minute

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 10.56 sessions

Analysis: This sure is a good amount of time to be spent on a little puzzle game. The Nintendo Channel reports that the game's been played by the channel's 1.4 million users enough times that I can calculate that it has sold at least 44,410 copies to those users.

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*NEW ENTRY* My Pokemon Ranch (Released September 2008)

Current Rank: #3 Last Month's Rank: N/A

Raw data for "My Pokeman Ranch" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 8 hours, 21 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 18.91 sessions

Analysis: Check out the average number of sessions per player. People play this game and keep coming back. Doing the same math I did for "Dr. Mario," the Nintendo Channel users seem to have bought more than 53,000 copies of this game.

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Mega Man 9 (Released August 2008)

Current Rank: #4 Last Month's Rank: #2

Raw data for "Mega Man 9" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 7 hours, 39 minutes (up 51 minutes)

As of 11/2: 6 hours, 48 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 6.64 sessions (up 1.27 sessions)

As of 11/2: 5.37 sessions

Analysis: Average playing time on this game shot up almost an hour in November, a clear sign that people are continuing to play this game well after purchase. Hooray for the addictive nature of old-school games!

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World of Goo (Released October 2008)

Current Rank: #5 Last Month's Rank: N/A

Raw data for "World of Goo" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 7 hours, 27 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 4.8 sessions

Analysis: Nice numbers for the critical darling of WiiWare. Doing that same math that I did for "Final Fantasy" and "Dr. Mario," I've got Nintendo Channel owners buying aat least 9,300 copies of this game.

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*NEW ENTRY* Tetris Party (Released October 2008)

Current Rank: #6 Last Month's Rank: N/A

Raw data for "Tetris Party" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 7 hours, 4 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 5.33 sessions

Analysis: Good usage numbers for "Tetris," but/and I'm calculating at least 7,400 copies sold to the 1.4 million Nintendo Channel users.

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Strongbad Episode 1 (Released August 2008)

Current Rank: #7 Last Month's Rank: #3

Raw data for "Strongbad Episode 1" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 5 hours, 21 minutes (up 2 minutes)

As of 11/2: 5 hours, 19 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 3.91 sessions (up .14 sessions)

As of 11/2: 3.77 sessions

Analysis: People played it, finished it, and left it alone, I guess.

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Lost Winds (Released May 2008)

Current Rank: #4 Last Month's Rank: 2

Raw data for "Lost Winds" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 3 hours, 39 minutes (up 4 minutes)

As of 11/2: 3 hours, 35 minutes

As of 10/5: 3 hours, 31 minutes

As of 9/1: [not logged last month]

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 3.57 sessions (up .09 sessions)

As of 11/2: 3.48 sessions

As of 10/5: 3.38 sessions

As of 9/1: 3.2 (est.)

Analysis: These numbers don't change.

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VIRTUAL CONSOLE LISTINGS

Super Mario 64

[Numbers drawn from Virtual Console usage, not the N64 release]

Raw data for "Super Mario 64" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 11 hours, 14 minutes (up 11 minutes)

As of 11/2: 11 hours, 3 minutes

As of 10/5: 10 hours, 56 minutes

As of 9/1: 10 hours 49 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 10.57 sessions (up .13 sessions)

As of 11/2: 10.44 sessions

As of 10/5: 10.36 sessions

As of 9/1: 10.28

Analysis: Minimal movement.

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Sin & Punishment

[Numbers drawn from Virtual Console usage, not the N64 release]

Raw data for "Sin & Punishment" usage

Average time played per player:

As of 12/1: 2 hours, 11 minutes (up 2 minutes)

As of 11/2: 2 hours, 9 minutes

As of 10/5: 2 hours, 8 minutes

Average number of sessions per player:

As of 12/1: 3.5 sessions (up .04 sessions)

As of 11/2: 3.46 sessions

As of 10/5: 3.42 sessions

Analysis: Even more (less?) minimal movement.

Games that I wanted to include or that readers requested that do not have stats listed on the Nintendo Channel yet: "Celebrity Sports Showdown," "Nerf N-Strike," "Bomberman Blast," "Strongbad" Episode 2 and 3, and "Blast Works." As I do these reports each month it's become clear that games don't show numbers until they reach a certain usage threshold. Take that for what it's worth.

CONCLUSION

What new games are people loving on the Wii this season once they get them in their home? Sequels to "Guitar Hero," "Madden" and "Animal Crossing," believe it or not. That's what is resonating and staying in people's drives. New original content released post-"Wii Fit" isn't charting well at all.

(Credit to comic book number-cruncher Marc-Oliver Frisch for unknowingly inspiring some of the elements of this series)

Check back in early January for more Wii number crunching. And let me know what you think. Feedback is always welcome!

Related Posts:

Wii Software Stats November Update: ‘Rock Band’ Passes ‘Mario Kart’

Wii Software Stats Update: October Edition Of ‘Smash Bros’ Domination

Wii Software Stats Update (September): “Brawl” Dominates “Kart,” Hardcore Single-Player Titles Stall

Nintendo Channel Reveals Hard Truths About Wii Play, Boom Blox, More (June)