The end is Nii for Nintendo Wii

Posted on October 9, 2011

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“Wii will break down the walls that separate video game players from everyone else.”  Satoru Iwata, CEO of Nintendo.

Nintendo Wii, innovator of family-orientated gaming  will be remembered for attracting a whole new audience to gaming. The small inexpensive, console, with the easy-to-use motion sensor, heralded the glorious return of the Mario franchise and secured Nintendo as a market leader, but it looks like things havce changed for the worst?

On the 8th of September 2006, Wii was released, the world went crazy, it was a must have item. For the next year, in the UK especially, game stores suffered from major shortages of the console, this ensured consumers remained hungry for the Wii’s charms. The hype was massive, wide-spread and unassailable.

In the first six months of 2007, Microsoft and Sony could only watch in sheer disgust as Nintendo’s Wii shifted more units than Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3 did put together. Wii was immensely popular, the sales reflected that. In December 2009, the Guinness world record for most consoles sold in a month in the United States was broken with over 3 million units sold.

Why was the console so successful?

It had vastly inferior graphics to its competitors, the online play was abysmal and the game repertoire left a lot to be desired for the “hardcore” gamer. Nonetheless, Nintendo were brave, they were treading unexplored waters with never-before-seen ways to revolutionise gaming.

Never before had any console successfully integrated such a large volume of non-gamers into their midst. According to sales figures, Wii attracted a whole new audience to gaming. Exclusive Nintendo franchises such as Mario, Zelda and others brought a generation disillusioned with violent, “realistic”, shooters with convoluted plots, back into the fray with their retro, family-based games.

The evolution of Mario, Link & Donkey Kong

You have to take your hat off to Nintendo, the advertising campaigns depicting likeable celebrities enjoying the wonders of the Wii won the nation’s heart. Read the forthcoming list and try not to be impressed by the vast array of celebrities Nintendo has used this generation:

Ant & Dec, Girls Aloud, Andy Murray, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Ian and Shaun Wright, Ronan Keating, Nicole Kidman and last and probably least…  Fern Britton. The large variety of high-profile celebrities playing the Wii whilst smiling during adverts is part of the reason so many purchased it.

With all these respected celebrities gently encouraging anyone watching prime-time TV to purchase their goods, it was inevitable that Wii would dominate the market.

Wii rose to the top of the pile because it tapped into a demographic almost untouched by consoles of previous generations, it attracted the middle-aged with claims it could aid weight loss, those with families with claims of “family fun” and first time gamers with its user friendly controls. Also, for the first time, adverts were also placed in magazines such Vogue and Cosmopolitan in order to encourage females to start gaming.

In hindsight Nintendo’s claims to aid weightloss were totally blown out of proportion by the media. 93% of Wii owners agreed that the Wii was unlikely to encourage weight loss, one person said:

“I often don’t even move when playing. The Wii only acknowledges the movement of the controller.”

The console was also responsible for more damage than the PS3 and Xbox 360 put together. When it comes to damaging property whilst playing the Wii, female insurance company Sheilas’ Wheels found that games such as Wii Fit were annually responsible for £20m worth of damages in the household, most notably during work outs-gone-wrong. There was also the issue of the Wii remote strap snapping, becoming a projectile and smashing the TV. If you were scour the archives of YouTube with the key words “Wii” and “Accident” you wouldn’t have to search long for a video of a terrible Wii-related accident. Most notorious is the infamous video of an infant getting kicked in the face by an inattentive father playing Wii Sports.

As well as damaging property many people damage themselves. In Australia alone during 2009, 66 people had to attend accident and emergency wards after sustaining injuries playing Nintendo Wii. Some of them had dislocated body parts but the most common injury was sprains and strains.

Dangers aside, the Wii provides the is by far the least expensive games console, my local GAME store sold the PS3 for £299.99 with two games, the Xbox 360 for £234.99 with two games and the Wii for £168.99 with three games.

On paper Nintendo provide the best deal.

It would be absurd to measure the Nintendo Wii’s success only through looking at console sales though. 82% of people said that there is at least another console in the household, a staggering 93% claimed to play Xbox 360 or PS3 over the Wii.

The Wii is the least expensive console by a margin of around £80, which partially explains its great sales. However, the same households would often buy an additional expensive Xbox 360 OR PS3 as both are rarely financially viable. So house for house, naturally there would be more Wii’s but according to a poll only 25% of people still played the console regularly.

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With the release of Xbox 360 Kinect (a motion capture camera) and the PlayStation Move (motion sensor controller) Nintendo Wii sales have slumped. No longer can the Wii claim to be the best selling next generation console. The PS3 move was described by Games critic Stephen Totilo as “a me-too Wii controller.” Nonetheless it is universally accepted that it is superior to the Wii remote. Xbox 360 Kinect is also an interesting piece of equipment; a camera that warps the gamer into the game. As little as 20 years ago consumers would have been shocked by such technology.

So why is the Wii dying?

The PS3 and the Xbox 360 deliver more high quality games, better graphics, a diverse multimedia capacity, top class online gaming and all in dazzling high definition.

Nintendo Wii provides… Mario on what is now, an inferior controller system. Regardless of that only 50% of people think that the Wii is fighting a losing battle against PS3 & Xbox 360. Be that as it may, Nintendo have confirmed rumours that the Wii 2 has started development under the code name Project café and that it will no longer be controlled by motion sensors but by a touch screen controller. It’s due for release late in 2012.

Nonetheless, Nintendo have shown that they do not fear innovative change, they appeal to a wider market than its competitors and that even after 25 years, Mario can still sell consoles, so yes the majestic phoenix that is the Wii will one day die but from its ashes the Wii 2 will rise.

As Charles Darwin said:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Nintendo know this, they know it well.

Read more about the Wii 2 here

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