As we approach the summer months where most of the games industry starts to wind down before building back up for the more profitable (and stupidly crowded) end of year deluge, there's a few fairly unanswered questions mulling around about Wii regarding the potential of its sales, its software selection and other missives. So here's a closer debasing over five common ones.
1. There's NOT Going To Be A Price Drop Soon
The threat of Xbox 360 or PlayStation3 dropping their retail price may appear to be a danger to Wii's magic price-point, but the reality is if Nintendo's machine isn’t just selling simply off a good RRP. There's arguable proof that an audience will buy nearly anything if it represents desirable value, but the cut and thrust of Wii's assault on a mainstream market that will do anything to get its grubby hands on one is through a combination of offering something new AND being cheaper than the other consoles. PS3 and Xbox 360 would obviously sell more should they start shedding the dollars, but the simple fact is motion control is the huge selling point in the first place. Without that, Wii wouldn’t be selling as well, regardless of price – both factors need to work in tandem.
So given Wii is currently selling out in most regions, there's no need for Nintendo to touch its price at the moment. Its rivals could start pushing more aggressively in this area -albeit at a loss- but even then Nintendo has the fallback of being able to offer more incentives (extra remote/nunchuk etc) without dropping its opening price and still seem a bargain because it's providing a service and type of gameplay that's unique. Short of demand being killed, no price drops are venturing near Wii for a long time.
2. Wii Will NOT Magically Stop Selling Once Supply Meets Demand
It's a bizarre thing to read this in some forums and message boards via people who are in painful denial. The concept goes something like this: Wii is currently selling to just Nintendo fans. Once they're exhausted, the temporary mainstream interest will already be dwindling and once they're gone Wii will suddenly find itself selling around 0-10 units (or something equally spurious) a week and the universe will correct itself to a pre-Wii default level.
Really, this idea is so myopic even I can't find myself thinking people really believe it sometimes. But they do. The very concept that Wii is somehow selling off the back of a limited fad preconception is ridiculous because under that same train of thought, the DS should have stopped selling about a year ago and all other games machines will stop selling once their threshold of fanboys has been used up.
Wii is currently the fastest selling console EVER. No games machine has seen this level of sales and perpetual selling out over such a short period of time before. It's tracking to the point where it's taken less time to reach over 6 million units worldwide than it took Xbox 360 to hit half that number. When a machine kicks that sort of level it's not 'typical' sales, by any means. And they're showing no sign of slowing because the desire to own is so damn high. Think about it. Demand outstrips supply right now for Wii. The supply outstrips demand for Xbox 360 and PS3, and their sales are a stable constant; THIS is a default level for a console. Once Wii units catch up with the audience we'll see a similar stability rather than a sudden 'no sales' pessimism (optimism?) that some are predicting. Which would only mean Wii will then be selling around similar numbers instead of the supercharged ones it sells now. Of course at the rate it's going at, when that happens Wii's user base will quite possibly be double of one rival and the point will be long moot.
3. Wii Will NOT Suddenly Find Itself In Trouble When [Insert Game Name] On [Insert Rival Format] Appears
Again, this idea relies on the erroneous concept that developers will stop making games for Wii full stop and it will be destined to forever only have the 40+ titles it currently has. Fact is Wii's selling well enough off Wii Sports to continue its high rate of sales. Yes, the likes of Grand Theft Auto 4, Halo 3, Final Fantasy XIII and so on will be huge. Massive, in fact. But if Wii is doing so well already via its pack in-title, a single hit of similar proportions (whether that's Wii Health Pack/Fitness, Wii Music or something else that's aimed at the same market) is all it needs.
Wii's software isn’t going to dry up and so its hit-to-miss ratio is going to be favourable as the machine gets more popular and an increasing number of third-parties create for it. It's not that Wii has to worry about rival games, it's the opposition that has to worry – because if Wii is currently outselling them with a relatively small library, what do you think is going to happen when the triple-A/big name titles start hitting? And if you assume they're not going to come then you really are fooling yourself. You can't say "[whatever machine] is going to have killer app software" without suggesting its rivals will too – just that Wii's strong sales tracking puts it in a better position than most right now.
4. Wii Will Never Get Any 'Hardcore' Titles? Of Course It Will
This is more a definition misconception than anything else, as Wii is a mass market machine, but that doesn’t mean it only has mass market games. True, there are many titles out that exist to take advantage of the party game ethic or play just for the novelty of waggling, but that's a disservice to other very solid and typically more hardcore oriented examples; The Godfather: Blackhand Edition, SSX Blur, Zelda, Trauma Centre, Super Paper Mario and Elebits, to name a few. The issue with this bugbear is that some of these games don’t appeal to whoever is disparaging them, and so they're "no good" – both a short sighted and arrogant disposition. Because anyone could argue that Grand Theft Auto 3 wasn't their cup of tea, but it's very hard to say it wasn’t a 'good' or well made game.
The elitism of some regarding this point is a terrible, almost childish trend where if something is relatively simple or popular it can't be hardcore. Get over it. Simply put: if Wii is as popular as the DS or PS2 (which it has the most potential to be, out of all the consoles), then it will have the largest and widest variety of titles to choose from, whether you're hardcore, casual, non or otherwise. And if you're still not convinced, consider why Nintendo recently purchased Monolith Soft (a developer known for making hardcore designated titles). Then add the Resident Evil games, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Manhunt 2, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, Winning Eleven and many more examples. They won't be hard to find – they're likely taking the names of doubters, so they can sit in wait for them in their kitchens. With large metal implements of pain. Hardcore, indeed.
5. Wii's New colours Will Probably NOT Appear Before Christmas
New colour schemes for videogame consoles are no longer a low level commodity in our fair industry; no, it's a goddamn business opportunity. Nintendo learned a lesson when it released a black GameCube alongside its purple default variant, because many opted for the former. So, lesson one: opening colour choice is vital if you want to maximise sales, and lesson two: if you get the first colour right, releasing another at the same time is somewhat foolish. The second of this little curriculum was fully exploited come the launch of the Game Boy Advance and DS, as Nintendo launches new colours at varying price-points, boosting the sales of the machine and giving it a new marketing angle to sell from. So now, new colours are used as a powerful marketing tactic despite the fact the only difference is that it matches your new sofa and TV cabinet. Hmm.
Given Wii is going through shops like gangbusters, there's absolutely no reason for Nintendo to push the much desired 'black Wii' any time soon; demand is just too damn high for a Wii FULL STOP for the company to bother wasting such a valuable sales ploy this early. On top of that, if they're really struggling to meet stock output it would be a totally boneheaded move to suddenly split its manufacturing force (no matter now slight it may be for the sake of a new colour casing). Nope, expect the black Wii to help solidify the Christmas market this year, with other hues doing the same throughout 2008 onward. Anything before then would be seen as a waste of resources, and if there's one thing Nintendo is getting very smart at, it's pocketing your cash at the right time.