Wii’s End? More than a feeling

There are some people who consider the Nintendo Wii at an endgate. And beyond the endgate: downhill. There are also people who will troll you if you say so publicly.

But can we analyze the situation? If you take into account the hardware evolutions of “the other two” and look at the new marketing strategy Nintendo has sailed recently, I can’t say those people who say the Wii is dead, are wrong.

But are they right?

A lot of Journalists already hinted at it, and more recently “Ready at Dawn” ’s Creative Director Ru Weerasuriy shared his gloomy prospection of Nintendo’s console during an interview with VG247.

“I can tell you that most of the people I know who have bought a Wii have it sitting on a shelf somewhere with dust on it…”

But that’s just an impression. None of my friends sing, but the world isn’t out of songs just yet. Do the numbers concur?
According to the Economic Times Nintendo sold 20.5 million Wii machines worldwide in 2009, down from 26 million a year earlier. For this year to march 2011 Nintendo only predicts 18 million Wii sales.

During an investor presentation lead by Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, the Wii sales were compared to those op Sony’s Playstation 2. Cumulative U.S. sales for the Wii are 23 percent higher than those for the best-selling PS2 system at this same point in its life cycle. And the PS2 still sells today.

“I hope each and all these charts will convince you that Wii, as a machine set to welcome its fifth holiday sales season, can never be considered to have lost momentum,” dixit Iwata.

From Gamasutra

However, an estimation Gamasutra made earlier this year, contradicts Iwata’s sales pitch.

The Wii is definitely not going down without a fight. Although the first pictures of the Nintendo Wii in 2006 showed the console in an assortment of colors, the USA has been waiting for a choice in color until the first half of 2010. But now all of a sudden Nintendo is throwing all kinds of Wii bundles on the market. This holiday season we get two new black bundles: one with race game Mario kart, and one for the fitness freak in all of you. If you prefer your Wii like good wine, vintage and red, you can get the limited 25th anniversary special edition Wii. It comes packed with motion plus integrated in the controller, New Super Mario Bros and the classic Donkey Kong.

“…accordingly, when our consumers are ready to select what they want to purchase for a Christmas gift, how we can encourage them to choose Wii, has now become important. In other words, we do not have the mindset that our home game console business will not see any further growth so therefore, we have to do something to sustain the sales.”

Then there are the other players. Like hyena’s, rearmed with new peripherals, they attack their prey when down (not that Nintendo wouldn’t do the same). Both Sony and Microsoft claim superiority over the motion controls of the Wii. And reviewers don’t argue. The move is more accurate and Kinect is in a different league alltogether. And even though the motion gaming fad is at a low, people considering a console purchase have one less reason to do so. Sony couldn’t be more obvious about it.

“upgrading your motion gaming?”

Sony Move

It’s a convincing argument. On the West-European market for instance, you get a PS3 with Move for about 100 euro more than the price of a Nintendo Wii. For those 100 euro you get better graphics, a Blu-ray player, more party games for the causal gamer (Guitar Hero, Singstar, Buzz), and more premium titles for the hardcore gamer (even with Move support e.g. Resident Evil 4, Killzone 3, Heavy Rain…).

So yes, as much as I love Nintendo, the Wii is at the endgate. If you don’t have one yet, only buy one as a step-up console for the kids, or if you really, really want to play a handful of excellent Nintendo Titles and you can’t wait for another two years or so until a new Nintendo console arrives. Or save up for the new star product: Nintendo 3DS.


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