Wii – Legitimate Next Gen Contender or Flash in the Pan?

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What was once just a silly name for a console has surprised the world with a newly designed control scheme and simplistic, all-hands approach to gaming. It’s common knowledge that the Wii is selling extremely well, and in some places still hard to find. However, is the Wii really a legitimate contender in the newest, fiercest generation of gaming? Can the two heavy-weight consoles, the Xbox 360 and PS3 really see the Wii as a threat?

For a moment, let’s take a step back from hypes and fads and look at the Wii from a different angle. Nintendo is having trouble keeping up with demand because people obviously want to buy it, right? That much is obvious, the way units are flying off the shelves. What about in a year from now? What about two years from now? Is the longevity of the system guaranteed simply because of stellar initial sales? While it’s definitely too early to tell, I feel that the answer is “no.”

Now please, dear reader, don’t fly off the handle thinking that I’m completely trouncing on the Wii. I own a Wii and enjoy it thoroughly. But while the Wii can be a fun system to play, it seems that at this point it’s not much more than a novelty item vice a “next gen” gaming system. Even more evident is the lack of?great games?being released, especially when the 360 and PS3 are pumping out not only their own exclusives, but killer ports as well. And that’s not to say that the Wii doesn’t have any good games; it does. But how many of these games are pushed from third party developers versus the amount of great games developed first party? You can’t win on an ingenuitive control scheme alone.

“But Chris, you fool, Nintendo isn’t catering to the hard core gamer scene! They’re aiming for the non-gaming demographic, so :P” And you may very well have a valid point, but let me rebuke. The “non gamer” scene that Nintendo is aiming for might just very well be its undoing. After all the fun little niche games have been filled, (Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Wii Play, Mario Party, etc.) what more can Nintendo or third party developers really offer? Wii Sports II? Mario Party 10? Non-gamers aren’t looking for feature-packed sequels or on-line co-op multi-player with competitive score boards, they’re looking for something they can pick up and put down in a mere half-hour or play casually with friends during a party. Once their library has a few titles that can offer that, they probably won’t be going out and reserving next summer’s smash hit. In fact, truth be told, a 50 year old adult who’s a Wiikend Warrior won’t be scouring forums or Gamestop for upcoming releases. It’s just fact. And while there are hard core gamers out there who’ll support the Wii vehemently, is that really enough to sustain the console with three very powerful competitors drawing more and more attention with each hit game that lines the shelves?

Developers aren’t pushing as hard to make good games for the Wii simply because there is no incentive to do so. As a developer, you can put your eggs into one basket (Wii) and try and develop a blockbuster game to generate profits that may or may not tank, OR, you can diversify your market by designing a game for two or three other markets (PS3, Xbox 360, PC). From a company’s standpoint, which would make more sense? The best business choice is to target a broader market because that’s where the money is. You simply can’t port most of the games that come out on the 360, PS3, and PC to the Wii. Even if you were able to, the next step is to somehow maintain the gameplay while using a uniquely different interface device, assuming not everyone has a classic controller (which may not feature all the required buttons). I know there are games that have been ported to all three consoles, and you could try and throw that back at me. But again, take a look at the quality of those games, and suddenly we’re back where we started. You can’t effectively make amazing games work on three very different consoles without glaring sacrifices. Don’t even try it!

By alienating differentiating?themselves from the competition, it seems what Nintendo is really doing is painting themselves into a pretty tight corner with the Wii. By having a separate, unique system to develop for, one that can’t fully handle this generation’s graphics, it’s not surprising to see majority of hit titles coming out for the 360, PS3, and PC only. Offering various peripherals and re-hashed franchises won’t be enough to keep the system afloat for this generation’s powerhouse game systems.



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