January 12th, 2007, 21:26 Posted By: wraggster
Nintendo executives must be patting themselves on the back right now; they essentially shut down any and all naysayers of their innovative, and sometimes overly ambitious, ideas and products. According to recent reports, the Wii sold 1.1 million units in the U.S. from its November 19 launch through the end of 2006. That’s quite an impressive number which beats out the PS3’s 687,300 units with its November 17 release date. But does this mean the Wii will win out in the long run? Or perhaps it’s just beginner's luck. The latter is doubtful, though the former isn’t exactly a guarantee. Here are three things, however, that would undoubtedly aid in the Wii’s overall success. To most these few pointers will appear to be common sense; but you’d be surprised to see how poorly Nintendo has been able to capitalize on these very simple concepts.
1) For Pete’s Sake, Get Some Third Party Support
Wario Ware: Smooth Moves is one of the few games that is coming out in the Wii's near-future.Although the Wii’s launch lineup was a pinch better than the PS3’s, it wasn’t the best we’ve ever seen. Well, how many launches are spectacular, for that matter? The point is, even though the Wii had an alright launch lineup, how will it do further down the road when the PS3 and Xbox 360 are sweeping up all of the third party publishers? The PS3 may seem a bit shaky right now, but don’t be fooled, as soon as its third party cavalry comes through in about mid-2007, it will be at the top of its game. The Xbox 360 is probably at that middle ground. It’s not bad by any means, but its support isn’t nearly as extensive as Sony’s. So where does that leave Nintendo? Well it’s anyone’s guess, but it could leave them begging for scraps at the edge of the table.
There were a fair amount of third party games in the lineup, including Red Steel, Call of Duty 3, and Trauma Center: Second Opinion. But what’s on the horizon for the console? Bust-A-Move: Bash and Sonic and the Secret Rings? True, Wario Ware: Smooth Moves is coming out soon, but outside of those three, there’s really nothing on the radar for the Wii until March, according to Gamestop. With only three titles coming out between now and then, you can officially say that of the games coming out, one-third of them are first party titles. What’s going on here? This has been a plague of Nintendo’s consoles since the N64, and it’s about time they break it. Although the Wii is the wildest thing Nintendo has ever created, and they have totally differentiated themselves from their competition, they may have separated themselves too much. Third party publishers may be looking at the Wii with uncertainty, but considering these numbers, they should be clamoring to jump on board and help Nintendo climb above the competition.
2) The Internet is a Series of Tubes
So maybe Ted Stevens has nothing to do with Nintendo, but the fact still remains that the Japanese gaming giant needs to finally jump on board the phenomenon that is the internet. And I mean make a real effort, not some half-assed attempt. Sure they “plan” to offer more online support, but a Wii optimized Opera browser, weather reports, and a small handful of online ready titles isn’t something I would consider solid online support in the face of Sony’s PlayStation Network; let alone Xbox Live. Nintendo really needs to create a plan for an online strategy. The fact is, online play augments the game’s longevity, and adds more possibilities for developers to toy with. I’m sorry, but I really don’t need a Mario Party 8; but if you’re going to shove it down my throat, at least give me online multiplayer.
A lot of games would be better off with online support. Wii Sports was basically a demonstration game, but do you realize how much fun it would be to play online? It’s not like there would be a lack of players to compete against. Let’s be real: 1.1 million people bought the system last year in the U.S. alone. There would be a huge amount of people to test your tennis skills against. Or how about a game of bowling? Imagine taking Cooking Mama: Cook Off online against another aspiring virtual chef. I’m thinking Bravo’s Top Chef-sponsored Cooking Mama competitions. It’s almost become standard for games to incorporate some form of multiplayer, and with the numbers Nintendo is pushing, they have the installed base to support it.
3) How Many Times Can I Swing a Sword?
Cooking Mama: Cook Off is all you need to pretend to be an at-home mom cooking for a family. Who doesn't want to fry some sausage patties?This isn’t so much of an immediate problem as it is a future concern. What does the future hold for sword-wielding adventures and gun-toting exploits? The concern has been risen that emulating the same real life tasks from game to game will eventually get old. Essentially what Nintendo has on their hands is a gimmick. Don’t get me wrong now--it’s a great gimmick and one that I think will last...if utilized properly. So far they haven’t run into any issues with variety. I can cook, play football, drive a truck, shoot a gun, and cut open a patient--what more can I ask for? The problem lies with the flood of mediocre games that come out offering the same exact features of titles before it. Unless publishers in the future push the limits of innovation, as the console itself did, it will simply grow stagnant and there really won’t be much to write home about.
This is a possible concern that Nintendo will have to address alone. Setting up stricter guidelines for third party publishers to follow in order to receive Nintendo’s blessings would only hurt them. At the same time, if they're going to rehash, they need to perfect their re-creations.
No one really knows how Nintendo will fair in the long run. The success they have been reveling in could be consumer infatuation, or they could have genuinely captured the hearts of gamers, children, and parents across the globe. Whatever it is, the fact remains that they sold 1.1 million units in the U.S. alone last year and 989,118 units in Japan. Certainly, those figures raise at least one eyebrow. Nintendo has done a good job appealing to the public, and if they can maintain that craze for the rest of the console’s lifespan, then they should be set. We very well could see the return of an entirely revitalized Nintendo.
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