Nintendo: Victim of Their Own Success

Nintendo: Victim of Their Own Success

In the world of video games there are words that are seldom used. One word that’s on the top of that list is the word different. The thing with being different is that it can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes a game is different and it’s a breath of fresh air for the industry, on the other hand sometimes it’s too different and winds up seeming more gimmicky than anything else.

In November of 2006, with the launch of the Wii, Nintendo made a statement of being “different.” Different by going completely against the grain at a time when everything was (and still is) about high-def picture and sound, killer big budget apps, and online communities. However one major thing that Nintendo did manage to do was something that the competition couldn’t – convert the non-gamers into believers. Through the magic of Wii Sports, gaming was turned into a family night affair. Smashing right through any demographic barriers that stood in its path. For the first time you had Mom, Dad, and even Grandma and Grandpa gaming together with the kids! Best way to describe this would be: Mass. Hysteria.

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Two years worth of “hardware shortages” (A.K.A. good marketing) made things even more interesting as Wii’s didn’t last more than a few hours on store shelves. The combination of being hard to find and priced as an impulse buy, made Nintendo’s console irresistible to any consumer. Now fast forward to present day and 60 million consoles later you would think that Nintendo’s “different” system couldn’t possibly be doing any better, but you would be wrong.

The casual market mass appeal that Nintendo has gained has elevated gaming to new heights but it has done so by turning it’s back against the real movers of games in the industry – the hardcore. These casual players from my own personal experience rarely own more than 3 titles at the most (that’s with Wii Sports Included). If you ask anyone who knows how the industry works they can tell you that the game is won and lost in software sales. And there’s no way in hell that the casual (Wii Sports playing) audience purchases more software than the hardcore. Period. Obviously with the biggest market penetration, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Nintendo’s 1st party titles would outsell any and all other titles on the market, but at the same time third party titles aimed at the hardcore have not managed to even put a dent on the top ten sales list for the console. In other words, if there isn’t a picture of a portly Italian plumber wearing overalls and a red shirt on the cover of your game, you have no chance!

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The last major “hardcore” releases were all from Sega. All three of those titles MadWorld, House of the Dead: Overkill and The Conduit severely underperformed to Sega’s standards. Mike Hayes the COO of the company has even gone on to call MadWorld’s sales performance “very disappointing.” With that said, how much longer will 3rd party publishers continue to support Nintendo’s “different” machine? Will the Wii, even after all its successes go the same route as the Gamecube by living off the sales of its 1st party titles?

There are two major 3rd party titles on their way to the Wii this fall. They’re both “on rails” shooters that aim to provide hardcore experiences in a casual package. The first is EA’s Dead Space: Extraction, followed by Capcom’s Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles. I think it’s safe to assume that both are big budget titles from each of their respective publishers, but if they go the same route as Sega’s last 3 efforts in terms of sales I truly believe you won’t see many more titles like these for the Wii, at least from EA or Capcom.

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This industry (like any other) is first and foremost about making money. If titles like Dead Space or Resident Evil on the Wii fail to bring in big returns or at least perform at the level of what’s expected, then what’s the point? EA might as well start working on their next Sports Active game, while Capcom can repackage yet another 4-year old title… if they want to make money that is. I guess if we want to play some hardcore games on the Wii we’ll all just have to continue to wait for the next Zelda, Mario, and Metroid game; business as usual for the Nintendo camp.

6 responses to “Nintendo: Victim of Their Own Success”

  1. I have nothing against the Wii in general, but I do consider myself a hardcore gamer, and, for the most part, Wii titles don’t interest me for that reason. That’s probably why its the only current gen console I don’t own yet. I’ve also seen first hand how much dust the Wii collects in the hands of more casual gamers.

    I often wonder if Wii sales will sink like a rock before long…

  2. Matt says:

    the wii has the best line up from now to 2010 Q2 easily devil kings 3,sammurai warriors 3 60 fps,monster hunter 3 60fps,sin and punishment 2 60fps,dead space extraction,resident evil darkside chronicles 60fps,silent hill shattered memorys 60fps,F1 2009 60fps wow,n more heros 2 60fps,crystal bearers 60fps,plus lots more and games that havnt been announced like Factor 5 3 wii games yes officially still in production,cant forget mario galaxy 2 60fps,Metroid Other M 60fps,New Super Mario Bros Wii 60fps,plus lots more

  3. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing on my sister’s Wii whenever I get the chance. Casual games can be fun under the right circumstances. I also love me some Mario Kart and SSBB.

    There are also a very select few games I wouldn’t mind having a Wii for, but it really doesn’t justify it for me at this point – Muramasa, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Metroid: Other M and the like.

    I still think the whole system is gimmicky, to be honest. It does have its uses and it is fun, though. I’m not really ragging on the console, because I tend to be more console neutral. But it does lack third-party title sales, which is what much of Joel’s article was about. Sure, the games might be good, and there might even be a lot of them coming up (although I wouldn’t call it the “best” line up from now until mid-2010 by a long shot), but they aren’t going to have the sales numbers as comparable titles on the 360 and PS3 will.

  4. @ Matt

    The Wii does have a solid lineup. But what does 60FPS have to do with the quality of the actual game itself in terms of plot and actual gameplay? We haven’t really touched on a lot of those games to determine such conclusions. However, I will agree that the majority of the listed games do seem pretty good. Of course, I wouldn’t be as bold to say that it has the BEST lineup from now to Q2 2010. What about God of War Collection, Uncharted 2, God of War III, Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time, Borderlands, Gran Turismo, Assassin’s Creed 2, Ultimate Alliance 2, etc.

    I think Nintendo has a great lineup. I wouldn’t say the best, though. In my opinion, the PS3 best lineup from now till then.

  5. thenellt says:

    @Matt.
    Though the Wii does manage to play these games at a decent frame rate, this is only possibly do to a large downgrade in quality from the other 3 platforms. Hardware wise, the Wii is piece of crap that would have fit in in 2003. Heck, if you look up the specs, my Mac from 7 years ago is more powerful in everyway, thats ridiculous.

  6. PS3fan says:

    I wonder if you guys have played capcoms TvsC, monster hunter, build and destory, NMH, Bwii, Wii resort or have you even seen the coolness of the new redsteel or battled your way thurough metroid prime3.

    It is really sad to see gamers not play any thing from the past because it is not HD. I think this is what seperates MS and SONy from the success that they should have by supporting HD gaming. They are ignoring the noraml gamers by supporting a few loud voices. The same loud voices that praised many companies that have not shut down or either are run on a skeleton crew.

    Then you guys blame what on nintendo? What they are a victum of their own success? really that would be MS and SONY. Nintendo made a profit off the Wii and it has great games that are too console like for the likes of most of the gamers posting here. Most of you did not complain in the PS2 was so much inferior.

    The main difference is game publishers and developers are simply not supporting the Wii as they did the PS2. Only a few companies are pushing the Wii while every one else simply believe that making an HD gaming is a sure bet.

    Many gamers believe they are getting more when they are actualy getting less with HD gaming. The industry believes this also but they still are continuing to treat console gaming like PC gaming.

    Let me put this in prespective… Epic and id software where PC only companies epic needs MS and id had to find a buyer… over 6,000+ talented people don’t have a job making you cool stuff because the higher ups bet on the wrong hosre.

    Seriously the Wii is console gaming the rest of the industry will continue to suffer until they understand what console gaming is about. The wii sells to every one while the the HD system only sell to certain types of people, that claim to be hardcore gamers yet problably could not even beat any thing on the snes.

    The PS1 does not count because that brought in the era of easy speak and spell gaming.

    You reap what you sow happy gaming and good luck with your thories.