See, I told you attach rates don’t mean jack

IGN writes: “If you’re still under the impression that consumers are only buying Nintendo’s new console for Wii Sports, perhaps the latest software to hardware tie ratio numbers from the NPD Group will change your mind. According to the software data tracking service, consumers purchased 8.11 games for every Wii console sold in December. This relates to 7.76 games for every Xbox 360 sold during the month and 5.04 games for every PlayStation 3 purchased in the same time frame.”

While Microsoft would have you believe that attach rates (total number of games divided by total units sold) are mucho importante when determining popularity and game quality, these numbers even out over time, regardless of the total installed base. For example, here are the life-to-date tie-ratio of last-gen systems: PS2 = 11.31, Xbox = 10.87, and GameCube = 9.34. Here’s the installed base of each system: PS2 = 120 million, Xbox = 24 million, and GameCube = 22 million.

The Dreamcast or Virtual Boy could have had a high attach rate for all we know, but did it matter?

24 Responses to See, I told you attach rates don’t mean jack

  1. boisv says:

    Man, Microsoft just keeps throwing out all these worthless statistics. And it keeps getting thrown back in their face.

  2. Jack says:

    Yet another piece of the puzzle is placed… let’s all try and count how many labels the Wii has left to overcome. Kiddie Games? Check. No third party developers? Check. Low attach rates. Check. Etc Etc. Come on and play along at home.

    But this attach rate revelation must be all those grandmas buying games for their grandchildren, eh Game|Life?

    P.S. — Microsoft also channel stuffs to make their hardware numbers look much larger than they actually are. Nice.

  3. bOB says:

    That’s good to here. It may not mean anything but it makes me happy 🙂

  4. Soup says:

    In the long run, yeah, they’ll even out. But in the short term, they matter, if only to allay the fears of potential developers.

    “They _think_ they’re important, so we have to pretend they are.” In any case, it’s good news for Nintendo all around!

  5. ejamer says:

    Busting the low attach rates myth?

    Let’s stop to consider why Wii attach rates might be on the rise.
    (1) Brand new Wii games are cheaper than PS3/360 games, so it’s usually easier for me to pick one up.
    (2) More good Wii games are being released each month. When your only choices are launch games, expecting an average attach rate of 5+ is pretty silly.
    (3) There are actually people who have owned a Wii long enough to build a collection of games now. Who buys a half dozen games at the same time as their system?
    (4) Supply constraints have forced some unlucky souls to buy “Wii bundles”, complete with 13 software SKUs including *shudder* Billy the Wizard.

    Seriously, this isn’t rocket science. Trying to compare attach rates for a system that is not supply constrained (and that has been on the market for a full year) directly against those for a system that is newer and difficult to find won’t provide accurate results.

  6. Mohan says:

    Wow those are some good numbers, I have had the Wii since it launched and since then I have gotten 9 games and waiting for more to come out like DA Swords, Brawl to new a couple. 😀

  7. raindog469 says:

    I’m at 12 or 13 myself. And I wonder what the 360’s attach rate was when the only games available for it were Kameo, Gun and a handful of sports titles.

  8. deepthought says:

    why does it feel like no one read the second paragraph in that source article. the myth of low reattach rates is not busted.

    besides, who says this new blue ocean market will ‘even out’ like historical markets have? i thought this was new territory, yes?

    Conclusion: Myth Plausible

  9. deepthought says:

    um, 3rd paragraph…

  10. deepthought says:

    and what’s a reattach rate anyways?

  11. DonWii says:

    Better games make the attach rate go up?


    Except that the blue ocean people are the ones buying games, while the hardcore gamers, like Kotaku’s own Ashcraft, complains about the lack of games and passes up many great games (If 4 games includes Wii Sports, Super Mario Galaxy, and Twilight Princess, you can see that he must have passed on many other great games, like Metroid Prime 3, Z&W, BWii, Strikers Charged, Fire Emblem, and potential future titles, like No More Heroes)

  12. DonWii says:

    And, as has been stated before, the Wii’s ratio is in line with the PS2’s ratio in the same time frame, and is tracking, hardware wise, closely and slightly higher than, the PS2.

  13. DeathChronx says:

    Since when did attach rates really matter? I mean…I’ve never heard the term during Dreamcast and Ps2 times….or N64..or Snes…

    This is all rediculous..I have the Wii and I have practically every game worth mentioning on the console and I think it equals up to a lot more titles that all of the AAA titles on 360, of course not including virtual console or maybe the upcoming Wii Ware…

  14. DonWii says:


    ‘Tis The Internet Boom.

  15. ResidentialEvil says:

    Talk is cheap. So far the actions haven’t matched the words. And besides, Nintendo isn’t the one I’m worried about anyway. I don’t think Mario, Zelda, or Metroid are going anywhere, and rumors of games like a new Kid Icarus make me happy. But the third parties…..that’s the problem.

  16. Paolo says:

    Let see: I have 9 total IIRC (except Wii Sports):

    -Wii Play
    -Zelda: TP
    -Mario strikers charged football
    -Super Paper Mario
    -MP3: corruption
    -Super Mario Galaxy
    -Zack & Wiki

    Non of them used, all brand new.

    For the 360, which I bought 3 months ago (bundle with PGR4):
    – Halo3 (used)
    – Mass Effect
    – Bioshock
    – CoD4 (used)

    And I’m not expecting much more in the coming months… maybe pick up some old titles!!

  17. ResidentialEvil says:

    Crap, wrong article, ignore that comment above from me.

    “This is all rediculous..I have the Wii and I have practically every game worth mentioning on the console and I think it equals up to a lot more titles that all of the AAA titles on 360, of course not including virtual console or maybe the upcoming Wii Ware…”

    Sorry but this one made me laugh.

  18. used cisco says:


    The 3rd paragraph doesn’t prove anything other than the wii got a slow start selling software. Developers sell most of their games in the holiday months, so if Wii has a higher attach rate in that period, that means a LOT.

    Also, Nintendo just released their financials and in the last 3 quarters, the Wii has had an attach rate in NA of 7.9.

    The Wii attach rate myth is OFFICIALLY busted.

    Now, we just need to get 3rd parties to take notice and start moving more major projects to the console selling the most software, the Wii.

  19. deepthought says:

    so the attach rate during a period is a funny indicator; much less comparable across platforms than a lifetime rate because, as I understand it, the time-period rate allows all sales of software to be measured against that time period’s hardware sales. so software purchases of existing owners are counted towards new console sales.

    Nintendo went into Dec with the largest ww install base, but for argument’s sake, it was pretty close to the 360s. But Nintendo also sold many more consoles than others. I’d say interpretation of this is tricky, largely hinging on the question of the relative number of game purchases of new console buyers purchase versus previous console owners. Nintendo’s slow start doesn’t lend much insight here either, as it is probably not representative of new buyers in a mkt with more AAA software (and more software in general).

    Overall, I’d guess the holiday ratio is less relevant than the lifetime ratio’s trend over time, measured against consoles’ trends.

    Will things even out? It’s not impossible. But I don’t see this holiday season as proof that it will. Since this a somewhat new gamer demographic for the wii, primarily with the introduction of more casual players, i suspect that, on aggregate, wii owners would be inclined to purchase fewer games over then system’s lifetime than, say, ps2 owners.

    so i still go with ‘plausible’ (mythbusters references ftw!)

  20. used cisco says:

    The last 3 quarters should be enough to bust the myth.

    I would argue attachment rates only became fully relevant in the last year because the year before that the 360 was unapposed and the previous gen consoles were dying. It was the only option for a next gen system which would likely inflate its attach rate. Likewise in the last year, we’ve now seen all 3 consoles in competition, even if its not direct. So attach rates going forward from that point are likely much more indicative of real world sales.

    Low Wii games sales myth: BUSTED. (at least in NA)

  21. srkelley says:

    Attach rates do have a substantial meaning to publishers in the least. They show that for every system sold, there have been at least X number of games that each system can own if you spread all bought games across the system. It doesn’t mean that every 360 owner has around that much, but that for its’ installed base, there are enough people buying games to make it worth making games for the system.

    As shown above, even though the PS2 had the highest attach rate, the Gamecube and Xbox would have actually surpassed it had their hardware numbers been higher and sales rised in correlation. For their smaller install bases, both systems sold more than a decent amount of games. They just weren’t as high as the PS2. It’s hard to know that there are gamecube owners that don’t own Super Smash bros. Melee, but over half of gamecube owners have the game, or at least that many copies have been sold.

    I believe that the data IGN presented means that Wii owners will buy games, that they’re more inclined to buy games now, that there were many Wii’s being given as presents along with a few games, and that the software for the system is gaining more appeal.

    Even if the Wii and 360 had equal hardware numbers, the 360 would retain a slight lead in that area, but that would also go to prove the strength of Wii game sales. The systems only been out for a year, but it has a comparative attach rate to a powerful next-gen system that’s been on the market for over a year longer than it was.

    Too bad the 360 doesn’t sale well in Japan, the sales data would look very different, and the wii actually be upon the point of surpassing the 360 in sales if the system could get even half as much of its’ Europe sales in Japan.

  22. srkelley says:

    And deepthought you point something pretty good. Monthly attach rates are more uimportant than lifetime attach rates in long run in order to spot trends and jump on them or to improve in lacking areas.

  23. Jim says:

    PS2 = 11.31, Xbox = 10.87, and GameCube = 9.34. Here’s the installed base of each system: PS2 = 120 million, Xbox = 24 million, and GameCube = 22 million.

    Two simple questions:

    1. What’s the source for these numbers?

    2. Do you really believe they are accurate? Because last time I checked I own literally 100+ games for PS2 / Xbox / GC… so are there a lot of people who simply buy just a console and maybe 2 or 4 games for the whole product lifecycle (5+ years)… or do they count replacement units or what?

    I highly doubt that numbers!

  24. KillerHeroes says:

    This might be off topic, but I’m more willing to buy a Wii game than a PS3 or 360 game. Part of it is price, but a big part is that I feel I’m getting something more original, creative and innovative with a Wii game. I’ve only been renting PS3 and 360 games, but have bought numerous Wii games in the past few months.

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