The console game Wii aficionados literally can't live without is now unofficially the top selling video game ever. That game would be Wii Sports, a hodgepodge of Mii-infested no-frills sports games that comes with every single Wii, desired or no.
That Wii Sports' top sales claim comes from VGChartz, a "sales-tracking" website occasionally accused of not so much cooking as "reheating" its books (give or take a couple hundred thousand units) when its projections vary from data provided slightly later by market research stalwarts like Enterbain and NPD Group.
Whether the data's credible or not, Wii Sports' ascent to the tippy-top of Mount Contingency was (is? remains?) inevitable. In the U.S., the Wii sold over 2 million units in November alone, propelling the worldwide sales total of Wii Sports toward somewhere in excess of 40 million units.
The former champ? Super Mario Bros., which came with early incarnations of the original Nintendo Entertainment System.
Question is, should we really be counting bundle games if we're gauging actual consumer taste?
Is anyone counting sales of games like Feeding Frenzy, Luxor 2, Boom Boom Rocket, Pac-Man Championship Edition, and Uno, all of which come on a disc packaged with every Xbox 360 Arcade? How about the freebie mobile versions (or clones) of games like Tetris or Asteroids or Space Invaders that come with who-knows-how-many mobile phones and PDAs? And what about the most bundled electronic game of all time, Windows Solitaire?
Even if it's true, as VG Chartz claims, that the Wii's attach rate is 45% in Japan (where Wii Sports is sold separately), there's a regional/cultural factor that the number taken singularly ignores. Would 45% of U.S. gamers buy Wii Sports if Nintendo sold it separately over here? We'll never know, and play habits "tracked" with the as-yet unvetted Nintendo Channel are at best interesting guesswork. What we do know is that some games sell better in some regions than others, so success in one country isn't an automatic lock in another.
Arguing by reference to other commonly bundled games like Super Mario World makes more sense, but even then there's a cloud over the number. Is the sugar-covered-cardboard, i.e. "stick gum" that comes with collectible movie or sports cards as popular with buyers as card sales might suggest?
Think about the times you've purchased something that came with something else to sweeten the deal. Even if you ended up using that something else -- often or only on occasion -- did it really tip your wallet at the cash-wrap? And more importantly, would you have purchased the something else on its own, if it were sold separately?