According to NPD Group’s assessment of the video game industry for August of 2010, the Xbox 360 has remained the best-selling console in the United States for the third month in a row. This is understandable, considering the expansion of the console to casual users alongside the revamped console, but what is really shocking about the data released is the poor sales of Nintendo’s motion-console, the Wii. Significantly decreasing year-over-year, the console displayed the weakest monthly sales numbers since its 2006 launch. Though some say it is a representation of the turbulent economic climate of the industry, it is also plausible that the console is beginning to fall behind in the race to capture the attention of casual consumers.
Microsoft and Sony have respectively launched campaigns to capture the Wii-dominated casual gaming market through their respective motion controllers, the Kinect and Move. With HD compatibility’s correlation with the growing number of HDTVs in households everywhere, it makes sense to buy an Xbox or PlayStation, though the intimidation of these “hardcore” consoles has scared away many potential buyers. Technologically, Kinect and Move have far surpassed over what the Wii has to offer. With precision one-to-one movements, it is hard to beat the experience on the newer motion controllers.
Nintendo had to have seen this coming. It has been no secret that their top competitors have been planning to steal away their core demographic and they have had four years to prepare for this day. Unfortunately, this day has arrived and Nintendo’s mistake of never innovating may ultimately lead to the failure of the console in the United States. The reason why Nintendo has never released a “Wii HD” is because of the impact that it would have on their developers. Every week, the most games are released on the Wii, most of which are unbearably horrible. Fortunately for these failures, many uneducated casual gamers will pick up a game without looking at it. This has created an economic incentive for Nintendo to allow its developers to create content in only standard definition, as an HD console would polarize their developer pool.
Though Nintendo has introduced new motion-sensitive accessories, they have failed to truly shake up (pun-intended) their model for success since 2006. In fact, they have only muddled it in a sea of plastic peripherals instead of improving the accuracy and fluidity of the technology. Nintendo has almost been smarter in doing this up to this point. Many gamers, casual and hardcore alike, were quick to shy away motion-controlled gaming due to past attempts. Through Nintendo’s light implementation of motion elements (Let’s face it, waving your hand back-and-forth isn’t really motion-controlled gaming) they were able to effectively provide a transition from button-based gaming to motion-based gaming.
Now that there is no fear of this medium, it provides many companies, including Nintendo, with an opportunity to win the war of gaming in your living room. It seems like every major console is enthusiastically capitalizing on this opportunity, except for Nintendo.
Considering this fact, the sales of the console must be revitalized through a hardware refresh that provides users with a more accurate experience and is compatible with HDTVs. The former is expected, considering recent patent applications show that Nintendo’s plans to build their Motion Plus peripheral into their Wii Remotes. The latter is a toss-up, considering the numerous negative effects the decision will bear whether Nintendo chooses to destroy our eyes with standard definition content or up the ante by attempting to join the Xbox and PlayStation as demonstrations of modern graphics.
What do you think? Is the existing Wii on its way out? Why hasn’t the Wii innovated over the past four years? Do consumers really want the “hardcore” motion experience that will come with Microsoft’s controller-free experience and Sony’s depth-perceptive controller? Let us know in the comments below.