As 2010 begins, Kotaku's monthly tabulation of the most avidly-played Wii games continues. As always, these are not the 10 games that have sold the most. These are the ones that get played the most by people who have them.
We have one change in the rankings as Rock Band 2 nudged slightly above The Legend Of Zelda: The Twilight Princess in average play time.
But the real story with this newest chart is a familiar one to those who've been following these numbers for a while: The Christmas effect. Right after the holidays, many games experience either a slowdown in the growth of their average playing time stats or even a decline. Why? It's likely due to the effect of Christmas gifts. Gamers get new Wii titles for Christmas, start playing, and, without having had much time to log a lot of hours, drag the overall playing times down a bit.
The game most vulnerable to that Christmas effect is Wii Sports, the free pack-in game that every Wii gamer gets. Sure enough, it's average per-player playing time dipped from 37 hours, 50 minutes per Wii owner to 37 hours 49 minutes. Given that every new Wii owner in the US has had this game that's still an amazing average playing time.
The other interesting Wii Sports number that pops out to me from the numbers I've pulled is the sheer number of hours logged by the nearly three million players who share their states with the Nintendo Channel, the digital source from where I pull all this data. In the beginning of September, the total hours logged for Wii Sports was about 77 million. By November 1, 2009, that tally was up to 82 million. Then came December 1, which saw that total rocket to 106 million, suggesting that a lot of Wii Sports was being played during the November shopping period and Thanksgiving (and/or that a lot of people were finally connecting their Wiis online to the Nintendo Channel, adding a lot of data to the pool). As of January 1, the number was at 110 million.
Wii Sports Resort, for those curious for a comparison, as of January 1, was at 19 hours, 27 minutes, with a total of 3.6 million hours logged by Nintendo Channel users who share their data.
I'll have more on the January 1 stats, including some notable performances by other games not in today's top 10, later this week.
Where's all this from? (AKA an explanation of the above chart for stat junkies only): In a move somewhat surprising for the generally secretive company, Nintendo makes all of this data public. Any Wii owner can download the Nintendo Channel to their Wii and begin browsing for games. Any game that has been played enough times has usage stats listed for it, contributed by anyone who chose to share their data with the channel. The sample size that the channel tracks is pretty good, though it is obviously biased toward users who hook up a Wii to the Internet. We calculate that sample size by looking at Wii Sports usage numbers, which show that more than 88 million sessions of that game have been played by Nintendo Channel users as of January 1 (up three million in the last month), for an average of 30.1 sessions per player. That divides to more than 2.9 million Wii Sports users whose gaming has been tracked by the channel. Since almost all Wii Sports owners in North America would be Wii users, we will venture that as many as 2.9 million people are contributing stats. That is up from the 2.8 million people when these numbers were run for December 1. (October 2009 data is not included on the chart due to a problem with Nintendo's data reporting in the previous month.)