EA chief: The Wii is 'weaker than anticipated'

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello expresses some displeasure over the Nintendo Wii and his company's inability to yield a high return on investment for Wii games.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Nintendo Wii
The Wii isn't living up to its expectations. Nintendo

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello didn't pull any punches when he spoke at a quarterly earnings call earlier this week. As he discussed some of the issues his company faces in today's gaming market, he singled out Nintendo and its Wii as contributing factors.

According to Riccitiello, third-party games on the Wii just aren't performing nearly as well as EA had expected. And as the Wii's sales start to slip, it doesn't seem likely that that will be changing anytime soon.

"To be honest with you, I think the Wii platform has been a little weaker than we had certainly anticipated," Riccitiello said, according to a transcript of the call published by Seeking Alpha on Monday. "And there is no lack of frustration (about this coming out) at precisely the time where we have the strongest third-party share."

But Riccitiello didn't stop there. He said EA is "reaching out to Nintendo to find ways to partner to push third-party software harder." He contended that in order for the Wii to perform up to Nintendo's own expectations, the platform needs help from third parties.

Riccitiello continued on that theme. He said his company is providing high-quality titles for the Wii, but it's Nintendo that needs to do more.

"Wii is where we are missing it," Riccitiello said on the call. "And so I really do think that the opportunity exists to find different ways to partner with (Nintendo) in this case, to sort of help establish in the minds of the consumer legitimacy of some of these other brands, when they are going out multiplatform."

But it was Riccitiello's next statement that might send the most shockwaves through the Nintendo world. The EA chief said "very, very few multiplatform titles are succeeding on the Wii so far, and collectively, Electronic Arts and Nintendo need to tackle that."

Perhaps now the question is, then, how will those two major forces in the gaming industry achieve what Riccitiello wants? Nintendo's platform has enjoyed strong sales since its debut, but the Wii is slipping. Worst of all, during the most successful periods for Nintendo, it was first-party titles, not third-party games that performed best at retail. Whether Nintendo can help change that, making it more profitable for third parties to develop games for the Wii, is very much in doubt.

What do you think? Is Nintendo really in bad shape? Is Riccitiello overstating the Wii's shortcomings? Let us know in the comments below.