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 â€“ 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.