Who’s the Wiiner Now?

Xmas Wreath

“Christmas = Money”

Nearly two years ago I made some pretty bold statements regarding the Next-Gen Console Wars – asserting that Nintendo’s Wii would dominate, and was the only platform that should be called “next-gen”. From the interview with Computer and Video Game News:

McGee told us he thought that Nintendo would be the true next-generation champion for gamers adding, ” I sense that Nintendo is going to capture the hearts of gamers while Microsoft and Sony stab each other in the neck for market domination. Nintendo is focused on innovation and games. The other guys are focused on making money.”

Controversial views indeed, but McGee seems certain that Nintendo speaks to the true gamer’s soul, while picturing the other two monolithic corporations as engaged in a massive bunfight not for gaming, but for cold hard cash. Harsh or right on the money?

I received a fair share of negative response, and rightly so, everyone is entitled to their opinions. But this morning I read the following article on Game Daily:

Nintendo is like a freight train – it’s got huge momentum and you better not be standing on the track. The Japanese giant today revealed first quarter fiscal results that show a 33.7 percent rise in profit to 107.3 billion yen ($993 million) and a 24 percent increase in net sales to 423.3 billion yen ($3.91 billion).

That’s nearly 1 Billion Dollars earnings in the 1st quarter of the year! Wow.

My comments of two years ago still stand. When your focus is market domination and making money you ignore the pure joy of creating something simple and fun. Wii has been compared to a “toy”, called an “expensive niche device”, and been labeled a “fad”. The irony is these comments always come from the people running the “competition” – not even realizing that they were never in competition with the Wii. Never could be. And despite their best efforts to emulate the controller scheme, interface, and content – will always be playing catch up. There is no victory in the battle when the “hearts and minds” of gamers (civilians, not die-hards) were lost at “hello”.

Still, others might see the light; some analysts forecast that Wii could be the “best selling console of all time”. They understand that the mass market isn’t interested in a “console war”. If anything, the idea of competing technology, difficult choices between storage formats, and testosterone fueled marketing campaigns – all drive consumers towards the Wii. The only people who win in a console war are the marketing departments.

There’s an analogy to be made here between a defense industry which desires a state of perpetual war and a marketing industry in need of the same. I’ll leave it to you.

The “Establishment” (whatever/wherever it might be) fears nothing so much as it fears innovation. Innovation is change. It opens new frontiers, threatens old boundaries, and forces more innovation when the status quo is still earning mountains of money. Nothing wrong with mountains of money – but when it becomes the only goal, it creates poisoned wastelands and unsustainable ecologies. Oops, I’ve lost track, are we talking about the game industry or the world in general?

On that note: Wii is just what the game world environment needed – the “hybrid vehicle” of consoles. Gamers get it. And we should all hope the industry eventually gets it too.

6 responses to “Who’s the Wiiner Now?”

  1. Despite me being more about Sony. I do admit I saw Wii going to take gold. It’s because they are trying something different like they did with the DS.

  2. I camped 15 hours on launch for the Wii. I love it. I really do. But I just feel like that since I got a 360 seven months ago, the Wii hasn’t delivered. Maybe it’s just that i’m part of the Core audience, but playing River City Ransom and ActRaiser just doesn’t seem to fill an important gaming gap that, these days, Ninty just doesn’t seem to care who fills it.
    Being part of the Core Audience, I suppose it’s pretty natural to feel neglected by the Big N. Even Shiggy has to sneak behind Nintendo’s back to announce that they’re working on the good titles because the company is so secretive, and that kind of thing isn’t helping their rep with the core demo.

  3. I can see how the Wii has come to dominate the market, but I think more of it has to do with the price tag than with the games. Many gamers that enjoy the Wii are not so happy with the game selection so far.

    Like Alicexia, I’m also a Sony person. I don’t hate the Wii, I’m just a self-professed graphics whore who is unable to give up a controller I’ve become very comfortable with.

  4. Never bought any consoles, but the Wii is the first one I bought. It’s easy to use, and even my parents who are in their 60s now enjoy playing.

    Btw, nice first episode. Unfortunately I’m not from the States, so I won’t see any other episodes.

    Speaking of which, since we’re talking about Wii…Episodic games like Grimm might be something for WiiWare? :p

  5. Has the Wii really “captured the hearts of gamers?” I’ve been a gamer since the late 70s and I’ve owned and enjoyed every console commercially released in the United States and I can honestly say I have spent less time on the Wii than any system I have ever owned. It’s great for parties and for people who aren’t really into video games, but after a few minutes the motion control becomes pretty mediocre. It’s not terribly accurate and most games just tack on motion control functionality as an afterthought. I get that it has sold well which is part hype, part low cost, and part the fact that there is a huge Nintendo fan base and lots of parents who don’t want their kids playing violent games. I don’t think that’s the same as being “next-gen” or loved by all gamers.

Leave a Reply