When I first heard about Nintendo’s new console, I was pretty amazed. However, it’s not necessarily a guaranteed home run, and much of the video game industry is treating the Wii like it has already won the next generation of console wars. While the buzz is generally positive for Nintendo’s little movement-based, economically friendly console, there are no guarantees in the video game industry, and Nintendo will have to work hard – and get a bit of luck – if this generation of consoles is to be theirs.
The Wii is basically a souped up GameCube in terms of power. This is a massive disadvantage when courting that core tech-heavy audience that has generally been the largest faction of the gaming public; as consumers, we want eye popping graphics and effects that immerse us in the game, and we’re not going to ignore the fact that the game we’re playing looks like it was designed in 2000 just because we get to flail our arms around like idiots. Now, the developers could figure out some ways to get more and more processing power from the Wii, but ultimately it’s just drastically less powerful of a system than either the Xbox360 or the PlayStation 3, and Nintendo’s not fooling anybody into thinking any different.
It’s true that the Wii’s introduction of motion sensitive control in three dimensions might be the most groundbreaking development in gaming in years. It could also turn out like Nintendo’s ill-fated Virtual Boy, another gaming device touted as revolutionary in its time. Come to think of it, Nintendo’s had a lot of failures when trying to introduce new gameplay techniques into the video game world, such as the laughable PowerGlove and the Gameboy Printer/Camera that made pictures look like a toddler’s experiments with silly putty and newspaper. The movement technology could be poorly executed in a way that could make games frustrating and unplayable.
It could be that the vast majority of gamers don’t want to move their arms around wildly in front of a TV – it’s bound to look stupid, and it’s probably not relaxing. Just because Nintendo’s got a different approach to control doesn’t mean it’s going to work; that’s going to depend on what the consumers want from a video game, and whether they mind looking like a fool to get it.
No Third Party Developers
Nintendo’s been awful about getting development kits out, and historically has had a bad string of failures when trying to get third party developer support for its consoles. The Gamecube in particular was awful, with its only truly notable exclusive, Resident Evil IV, becoming not-so-exclusive when it joined the PlayStation 2’s library about a year after its release. Not everyone’s a big Mario fan, and that’s a huge problem if Nintendo can’t get a few big name third parties on its side. Also, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox360’s advanced processing power might mean that developers will create games for both of those systems, but be unable to bring said games to the Wii due to its lesser power.
I’ve already made hundreds of Wii jokes, and I’m pretty positive that I’m not the only one doing so. It may seem silly, but a product can be in serious trouble if it’s a laughing stock before it’s even out. Why Nintendo didn’t stick with their code name, Revolution, is beyond me.
We’ll find out over the next year or so whether Nintendo is going to have what it takes to win over their competition. Microsoft and Sony are likely to fight the battle pretty hard, and with money that Nintendo can’t hope to match, but if Nintendo avoids the pitfalls outlined above, they may have a chance at accomplishing their oft-repeated game plan: to bring video games to a much wider audience through creative and unique game play.