Can Wii Be Saved?

For the gamers that care, the Wii is not a primary console. It’s a novelty. Something that you can use to entice mom and dad with to get into gaming. Something to be used as an entry drug, a stepping stone into a genre of gaming that isn’t just carnival games and cute and cuddly colors and animals. However the Wii is not marketed to gamers with more than one console. And if trends are a solid indicator of the future, Nintendo may no longer need gamers like you and me to support their growing lead on the home console market.

While I know IGN isn’t the be-all for gaming reviews, but I want to keep my references for the following lists consistent. That being said, here is my list (via IGN) of the top games released on the Wii thus far. I only had 2 criteria for this short list 1. Rating of a 9 or higher according to IGN and 2. I care about it: Super Mario Galaxy. World of Goo. Super Smash Bros Brawl. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Zack & Wiki. Okami. But do not be fooled eager reader. As impressive as this list might be, SSBB came out in March of 2008, Okami came out in April of 2008 despite already being available for the PlayStation 2, and World of Goo is a WiiWare title, so that may not even be considered a “retail release.” I don’t want to get into a battle of semantics. My point is the truly great games were a rare sight in 2008. Sure there were plenty of good games, but in These Trouble Times (drink!) my bank account can only be concerned with the great games. Sorry Mario Kart.

Here’s a modest list of upcoming games that “hardcore” gamers, or at least games that I care about: Dead Rising: Chop Til You Drop. MadWorld. The Conduit, Sin & Punishment 2. Pro Evolution Soccer 2009. Punch-Out. Granted, these games aren’t out yet, so the possibility of hype being greater than harvest is still out there. Either way, these games are on my radar, and they should be on yours too.

So here’s the thing. The first list of games are among the cream of the crop in the eyes of the supposed “hardcore” gamer. While I don’t believe that Nintendo doesn’t care about the “hardcore” gamer, they just don’t need us anymore. The numbers do not lie. Over 10 million Nintendo Wiis sold in 2008? These things can’t stay on shelves long enough for someone to admire them in the wild. Looking at the top selling games of 2008, the first four are: Wii Play (with remote), Mario Kart (with wheel), Wii Fit (with balance board), and SSBB. Grand Theft Auto 4 (360) rounds out the Top 5. I don’t count Wii Play since it’s just a $10 tech demo with a controller. A brilliant business plan, but not a game. However the next three games also belong to the Little White Box That Can. Which means that even if you consider Wii Play, 4 of the top 5 grossing games for 2008 were aimed at your mom, not you. No offense to your mom.

So what have we learned today? The Wii sells really, really well. And if the DS is any indicator, just wait for Nintendo to release the Wii in different colors a la the Gamecube. I can’t even imagine the frenzy over the last Purple and Pink Colored Wii on Black Friday. Similar reports show that most of the games on the Wii sell well too (even Wii Music), but are the games any good? According to IGN, no. Nearly a quarter (25%) of the games released and reviewed by IGN’s editors scored a 4.0 or lower…ouch. Low development costs and a high install base are not an excuse to shovel crap with waggle out the door to uninformed consumers.

Which brings me to the primary purpose of this week’s post. Can Wii be saved? Or more appropriately, does the Wii need saving? (Can We Be Saved?) Of all the upcoming games I listed, I think the most pressure to succeed rests in the fate of primarily “The Conduit.” To be fair, I have been listening to a lot of IGN’s Nintendo Voice Chat Podcast where the Nintendo Team pretty much declares their undying love for High Voltage Software and their upcoming FPS whenever possible. It’s certainly possible that I have fallen victim to the hype-train. As is the case with most hype though, it usually starts out well deserved. Just watch some of the footage and tell me that you aren’t a little bit excited. I’m going to ask for a moderate leap of faith on this next part, but run with me on this one. Let’s just assume the fate of the Wii in the eyes of the “hardcore” gamer rests solely with the fate of The Conduit. If it fails, what then? Could a blockbuster mean that more “hardcore” gamers will return to the Wii instead of playing Killzone 2 or whatever Call of Duty is out? Could this game stay relevant long enough to warrant a sequel? Could this game remind Nintendo of the demographic that put it on the map in the first place? Could The Couduit remind Nintendo that they are not the only developer capable of mass success on the Wii? Could this game be the first of many 3rd Party success stories on the Wii? Is this game really the second coming?

Unfortunately the answer to most of the questions is probably, No. But I think the discussion is a necessary one. Does Nintendo feel any kind of obligation to the “hardcore” demographic anymore? Sure they make the occasional announcement on a first-party title that you and I will probably pick up on blind (read: dumb) faith, but those games are sparingly released. We’re lucky to get one solid game a quarter, if that. And the worst part? Nintendo knows all of this. They know they can get away with one first-party title a quarter and that will fill their obligations to the rabid fanboys and fangirls. One game a quarter. The rest of the year is filled with mindless waggle and mini-games. So where is the monetary motivation for support of the “hardcore” gamer when Wii Fit and Wii Play are printing money too fast for Nintendo executives to count? I’ll save you the trouble of thinking that one out…

There Isn’t Any.

2 thoughts on “Can Wii Be Saved?

  1. I don’t want Nintendo to become the Disney of gaming, but sometimes I believe that’s exactly what’s happening. Everyone expects greatness when the game has Mario, Link, Zelda or Samus (sp?) attached to it. The stock characters are so beloved, it seems like someone is saying, “Who cares if the rest is junk?”

    But I will say this: casual gaming is saving Nintendo’s ass. My boss at work purchased a Wii for herself so she could work out with Wii Fit, and she has her friends over to play Wii Bowling. I think Nintendo was feeling that it COULDN’T compete with the PS3 and 360, so they took a rather ingenious route. The problem with all this is the rest of us gamers who enjoy Nintendo feel like we’re being abandoned unless we are gifted with a Mario game or something similar. The graphics for multi-platform titles like anything in the Lego series or Shaun White Snowboarding never port well to Wii, so every hardcore gamer wants to play them on their better system.

    Now, I love casual gaming. I have a DS and a Wii. I am addicted to stuff like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Cooking Mama 2. I play a lot of old skool Nintendo games on my Wii. A lot of my girlfriends are not into video games at all, but I can get them into a game where you ride a cow, do a ridiculous dance, or play Cranium by pointing at the screen. I don’t want the novelty of the Wii to disappear–it’s awesome at parties!

    But sometimes I just wanna use my Wii to shoot some zombies and slash some evil ninjas, and I want it to look pretty good. That’s the moment where I shut off the Wii, fire up the 360, and battle my husband at Soul Calibur IV. I always wonder why it feels like Nintendo isn’t listening to its true gaming fans who have been with them since the first time we blew into an NES cartridge in the 80’s!


  2. I am a HUGE Wii fan and a nintendo fan. I used to consider myself a gamer but it was always PC. I need a mouse and keyboard to pwn, what can I say.

    But we bought a Wii because we have kids and Nintendo makes fun games (not hardcore) that I know are not going to teach my kids that running over cops and scoring with hookers is a way to gain points. 🙂

    We have people over all the time and although I agree that the Wii is a novelty, it makes them stand out. They are out of the battle with PS3 and Xbox. For me, I am gonna frag on a PC because I just cannot understand how you can strafe correctly with an Xbox controller. I guess I am just a tard or something.

    Anyhow, It’s too bad Nintendo doesn’t come out with a console for their hard core gamers and a somehow keep the casual gamers happy.

    And I have to say, At least my grandma doesn’t think videogames are the devil anymore.



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