Nintendo is McDonald’s of Video Games, Says Analyst

Whether it’s been for Happy Meal toys or free Wi-Fi hotspots, Nintendo and fast-food juggernaut McDonald’s have partnered for profit for years. But in a Gamasutra feature published earlier today, gaming industry analyst Michael Pachter took the relationship between the two a step further.

According to Pachter, one has become the other; with an audience “not sophisticated enough” to be cognizant of quality, he says Nintendo stands as the McDonald’s of the video game industry.

“(Wii owners) buy the Wii games they buy for the same reason people go to McDonald’s,” says Pachter. “McDonald’s doesn’t win a lot of restaurant critic awards, but they are approachable, they’re consistent, and you know what they’re going to serve you.”

The oft-quoted senior vice president of research at Wedbush Morgan Securities, Pachter argues a Wii game’s success depends more upon meeting the audience’s expectations than quality, a postulation supported by the success of Midway’s Game Party series on Wii, which has shipped more than three million units in less than 16 months despite being slammed by critics.

Despite having only seven mini-games in the entire package and an aggregate review score of 2.5 of 10 on Metacritic, the original Game Party has shipped more than two million units since its Nov. 2007 release on Wii. A similar success, the Oct. 2008 Game Party sequel fared better critically.

It has a 2.9 out of 10.

“I mean, who sells more food — McDonald’s or Ruth’s Chris Steak House, which certainly serves better meat?” asks a rhetorical Pachter. “Nintendo has become the fast food machine. Sony is very much the high-end restaurant, and Microsoft is somewhere in between.”