Opinion: Do you still care about the Nintendo Wii?

Gerald Lynch Columns & Opinion, Features, Gaming, Tech Digest news 5 Comments

wii.jpgIt was once the king of the gaming pile, so sought after that you’d have to give a kidney on the black market to get one in your home. But recent months have seen the Wii fall from grace, with profits down by nearly half over the same period a year earlier. Has the bubble burst for the Nintendo Wii? If so, what has caused it? Here’s Tech Digest’s five reasons why the Wii’s star is falling.

1. The novelty of motion control has worn off.

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When Nintendo first started showing off its Wii motion-based controllers they were hailed as a revolution, taking gaming interactivity up a notch by adding a whole new level of physicality to gameplay. I literally lost hours to the boxing mini-game in Wii Sports, and many fell in love with the console’s healthy-lifestyle ethos featured in games like Wii Fit. Anyone from a toddler to your grandparents could take part, with the Wii becoming as much a social centrepiece as it was a gaming platform.

However, despite innovations such as the Wii Motion-Plus ad-on, many developers never got the hang of making responsive motion controls. The pressure to add motion controls to a game where it was unnecessary caused many games to feel like patchwork hack-jobs. Far from being intuitive or immersive, games like Super Paper Mario suffered from inaccurate and distracting waggling or tilting. Many developers used the motion controls as a marketing novelty, rather than working on making them a useful, integral and most importantly fun aspect of gameplay.

2. Serious gaming has trumped casual gaming. Seriously.

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With motion gaming came the rise of the “casual gamer”, people who were trying console gaming for the first time thanks to the Wii’s perceived accessibility. While there were many great games that could be classed within the “casual” bracket (Wii Sports, WarioWare Smooth Moves, Let’s Tap), the term for many gamers came to mean “cheap cash-in”. Developers exploited this burgeoning group of inexperienced gamers by putting out games of a sub-par standard and then explaining their faults away as attempts to simplify gameplay to reach a wider audience. That’s fine if your simplified games are good, but it’s no excuse to make buggy, broken titles and market them as the best thing since sliced bread because your growing audience lacks the knowledge to notice otherwise.

Likewise, Nintendo’s choice to favour accessibility over technological advancements has led to a console that is now seriously showing its age. Based on the core hardware that was present in the Gamecube (a console now over 8 years old) the Wii is visually miles behind what its cinematic rivals the PS3 and Xbox 360 are now capable of. Games like Uncharted 2 or Fallout 3 just wouldn’t be possible on the Wii, so hardcore gamers are migrating away from the Wii. And with hardcore gamers the people left button-mashing away once the casual, novelty gamer moves on to pastures new, they really have to be catered for if you are going to have a consistent revenue stream.

3. Economic conditions.

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If, in these economically challenging times, you only have the money for one console, can you honestly say the Wii represents good value for money? The Wii-Mote controller comes in two sold-separately parts if you include the nunchuck necessary to play 80% of the games on offer, for crying out loud! It may feature free built in Wi-Fi and internet gaming, but both the community and content on offer with the Wii are sparse. Both the Xbox 360 and PS3 have at least DVD playback, with the PS3 also featuring free online gaming and doubling up as a Blu-ray enabled media centre. And with many cross-platform games being stripped back versions of PS3 or Xbox 360 titles (with shoddily added motion controls, of course) you’d have to dig deep to find a reason to choose a Wii over its competitors.

4. Lack of killer games.

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Nintendo have a historic gaming pedigree and to be fair, there are some shining examples at work on the Wii. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy, Retro Studio’s Metroid Prime Trilogy are a few superb examples. But have a look over at review score aggregator MetaCritic; at the time of writing there are just seven games within the top 10 percentile range. And with the exception of the recently released New Super Mario Bros Wii and the aforementioned Metroid Prime Trilogy (itself a compilation of previously released titles) what killer content do Wii owners have to look forward to in the coming months? Sin and Punishment, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle and Super Mario Galaxy 2 are the few titles really jumping out at us now, whereas there are innumerable exciting games headed to the other major consoles in just the first quarter of 2010 alone, such as Mass Effect 2, Red Dead Redemption, Alien Versus Predator and Bioshock 2 scraping just the tip of the iceberg.

5. Those awful adverts.

A personal bugbear this, but a valid one nonetheless, and not limited just to the Wii but the whole range of Nintendo products including the DS. Am I the only one who finds the whole celebrity endorsement of Nintendo a bit much? Sure, gaming is now a widely enjoyed hobby but come on, surely Beyonce and Nicole Kidman have better things to be doing than playing with Nintendo gear? Like spending their millions for instance? And I honestly don’t care if Jamie, Louise and Harry Redknapp enjoy a go of Mario Kart, because it’s plain to see all they are really enjoying is lapping up the pennies thrown at their feet by Nintendo. It’s unconvincing and patronising to the leagues of gamers who have fought to have gaming considered a credible pastime. And don’t get me started on Ant and Dec…

By Gerald Lynch | December 3rd, 2009





  • J Thomas

    I can see some valid points in this article but can’t help but feel like the media are jumping on the bandwagon here.

    The doom and gloom and “Wii is falling” is not accurate. Yes it is experiencing a sales slump but so is the Xbox 360. In fact the only platform that seems to be pushing forward is the PS3, but that is behind the others anyway.

    Here are some figures for you and a link so you may see yourself.
    http://www.vgchartz.com/
    http://news.vgchartz.com/news.php?id=6083

    Wii Becomes fastest selling console in UK history. Oh you didn’t report that?? Is that because it is good news?
    Sales worldwide:

    Wii = 57.38 million (Launched Nov 2006)
    Xbox 360 = 33.66 million (Launched Nov 2005)
    PS3 = 27.04 million (Launched Nov 2006)

    In short, yes I do care about the Wii. I am currently playing: Dead Space Extraction, Little King’s Story, Modern Warfare: Reflex, Okami and Prime Trilogy. These are all top games. As for the future, on my personal list I already have: Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles, Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers, Monster Hunter 3, Zelda 2010 (hopefully)and Red Steel 2.

    The Wii will continue to be relevant. If you feel that one of the other consoles is your thing then go for it. If your lucky enough to have multiple consoles, then go for it!

    Whatever you do just ignore negative articles.

  • Sam

    Wow, no offense but are you even in touch with reality?

    ‘It was once the king of the gaming pile, so sought after that you’d have to give a kidney on the black market to get one in your home.’

    The Wii is DOMINATING the competition, it has been for the past 3 years! The ‘downward spiral’ that you’ve put the most tenuous and over-the-top spin on is attributed to the fact Nintendo sold an impossibly huge amount of hardware last year, and a few commentators (who clearly like yourself are all clamoring to attack this console) criticise it for not consistently meeting those numbers despite the fact they are still way ahead of the numbers from 2007, and from its competitors.

    I wouldn’t be so zealous in my response, but for the lengths you go to in trying to undermine this console.

    ‘1. The novelty of motion control has worn off.’

    Clearly, CLEARLY, this isn’t the case, as both Sony and Microsoft are making their own bids for motion controls next year. MICROSOFT IS BUILDING UP THE NATAL PROJECT AS SOME KIND OF NEXT GEN REVOLUTION FOR PETE’S SAKE!!! They have both abandoned the stance that this is a ‘fad’ and now want a piece of the Nintendo-led innovation pie.

    ‘2. Serious gaming has trumped casual gaming. Seriously.’

    Again, this has no basis in evidence. Casual games are still pulling in the big numbers, and both Sony’s and Microsoft major panderings towards the casual market in 2010 seems to suggest they think there is a large market to exploit here.

    ‘3. Economic conditions.’

    This has been a drag on the gaming industry over the year in general, but you seem to use this as an excuse to forward the opinion that ‘if it’s not a Hi-Fi system, it’s not valueable.’ What the Wii provides is a family entertainment system. HD and Blu-Ray are still luxuries to most people. The Wii provides something the competition cannot possibly offer – a quality gaming experience across demographics.

    ‘4. Lack of killer games.’

    Well, you clearly need to take a look at the round up of games for 2010 because it’s set to be the best year for the Wii yet.

    ‘5. Those awful adverts.’

    This is your opinion and nothing else. Say what you like about the ads, at least they haven’t caused the Wii any embarrasments along the way, like say these … ?

    http://news.vgchartz.com/news.php?id=5950

    Notice the inclusion of both the PSP and PS3 in this list…

  • Juman

    Soon the fastest growing console will be apple gaming. Yes its true apple is secretly making a console read this http://www.domesticutilities.com/game.htm
    So its a good news for apple lovers. Wii is good as well but god knows what apple is going to come up with.

  • zach chaney

    man idk who wrote this article but they should be fired and never allowed to write again, all of this is faulty and untrue info so if u are thinking of buying a wii then go look at a couple of other sites a forget about this one.

  • Starkers.

    The Wii games are rubbish compared to the Xbox and PS3. I have all consoles, and only the kids play on the Wii now.

    WODE and Homebrew make it enjoyable for me, and that is all….