We gather here today to pay our final respects to maturity on the Nintendo Wii. Mature gaming wasn’t with us for very long on the little white waggle-fest, but it had a lot of heart. Sure, it wasn’t very popular and was often ignored for plastic add-ons, fitness games or rehashed relics of gaming’s past, but I am proud to say that I lived long enough to experience the life and death of a potential gaming experience on one of the most successful gaming consoles in the history of video games. Maturity, you left us too soon.
Outside of the typical first-party regurgitations from Nintendo, the market has shown that there is no sustainable place for “hardcore” titles on the Wii. MadWorld, The Conduit, and No More Heroes have all earned sales figures that were less than impressive. Sure, No More Heroes gained enough traction to spawn a sequel, but I do not expect No More Heroes 2 do be a financial success, especially if its contemporaries are an accurate indicator of sales potential.
To be clear, when I speak of “mature games,” I am referring to games of a mature subject matter and older target audiences, and not the games that simply put forth a gratuitous orgy of gore, violence and senseless use of language, games that the uninformed mistakenly visualize when discussing a mature video game. Games meant for mature audiences will continue to gravitate to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, while the Wii will continue to shape its software lineup in a completely different light. The sales trends of the past are hard to ignore and must be recognized as an overwhelming thumbs-down on future mature gaming prospects on the system. Wii Fit sells, Guitar Hero sells, All-Play editions of each of Electronic Arts’ sports titles are developed specifically for the Wii and for the people playing the Wii. The coming year of known software releases for the Wii are bright, bouncy and bubbly, not dark, deadly and ultimately undesirable by most of the people who own a Wii but prefer consoles with dual analog sticks on their controllers.
Is there a place for mature, story-driven experiences on the Wii in this generation of gaming? Will the Wii ever get its own Shadow of the Colossus? More importantly, would it even sell? Is that the type of game even worth developing for the Wii considering the current state of both the economy and the current breakdown of Wii owners? Is the risk worth trying to prove that the Wii can compete on the same emotional and intellectual level as its high-definition competition? I want to believe that there is more to the Wii than tech demos, sword fighting and mindless waggle. I want to believe that the Wii is capable of something truly unique and thought-provoking. However with every passing month, sales numbers continue to suggest that games like MadWorld probably never had a place on the Wii to begin with. And that is a shame.
If you think I’m overreacting or being too harsh, just look at the upcoming release schedule for the Wii this fall. Find anything worth your hard earned dollars? Metroid Prime Trilogy is scheduled for August 24 with updated controls and visuals in one package. Normally I would find a reason to brand this as more of the same from Nintendo, but since quality gaming on the Wii is on life support, I’ll hold back. Fans of Odin’s Sphere will be keeping an eye on Muramasa: The Demon Blade in early September and all of it’s 2D splendor. Finally frequenters of Talking About Games have been reminded to pay attention to Dead Space: Extraction at the end of September. Apparently this game has the potential to deliver where other on-rails shooters could not. But beyond those three games, what else is there to genuinely look forward to beyond the old faithful that Nintendo will be developing and releasing themselves? Red Steel 2? I’m not going to say that there is no hope for the Wii getting used in my house, but I’m hard-pressed to find a clever enough synonym for “hopeless.” I can count the games that I will be paying attention to on one hand. There’s no telling if I will have the time or money to even care about these games beyond the reviews that get posted. I’m sorry, Nintendo, but there is a more exciting lineup on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 this season. You had your chance to grab me and failed. If it weren’t for Scribblenauts, I’m not sure if we’d ever speak again.
In light of these (deficient) developments, “We the Gamer” no longer have the right to complain about the target audiences for new games released on the Wii. Nintendo gave us all a chance to prove that we could get behind a more mature gaming experience on the Wii and the people have spoken. The people do not want MadWorld, they want Mario Galaxy 2. The people do not want The Conduit, they want Wii Play. The people want Wii Sports Resort. The people want to be fed the same stale and overused games we have been playing for the last four Nintendo (home) consoles. I hope everyone is happy with what the future holds for the Wii. We asked for it, if not explicitly then implicitly. And Nintendo is more than happy to oblige our requests.
RIP Maturity, you will be missed.
This editorial is featured on Talking About Games.com