Not to say the haters outnumber those who like Nintendo's young pretender to the throne, because clearly they're in the minority as the little white machine goes from sales strength to strength each month. Even as demand and supply finally (finally!) start to equalise, Wii is still doing so well that analysts who discounted it merely four to six months ago have been scrambling over each other to make re-estimates.
This isnít to say Wii will run away with being this generation's leader, given two very strong competitors in the shape of Xbox 360 and PlayStation3. But it takes a Mr. Magoo level of myopia to see the large threat Nintendo is posing to Sony's previous dominance. And sales aside, it's obvious because certain hardcore gamers are coming out in hives (in many senses of the word) to try and deny the fact and do as much as they can to sling mud covered rocks at the new kid.
Wii's selling power ratio is currently only matched by its handheld sibling, DS, and sporadically, PS2. No other current gen machine comes close to its tracking strength. Had it been the other way around and PS3 had been outselling Wii by the same margin, people would already be declaring Sony the victor. Yet suggesting Nintendo as a 'winner' at this stage, while very early to do, is often met with disdain.
Hypocrisy? Well, yes. But the main reason that exists in this case is because of brand power.
The problem with that, along with following franchise pedigree, is that it only lasts so long; especially in gaming. No brand is unbeatable, nor can it remain dominant forever. Business theory demands that in a fiercely competitive field, someone will eventually triumph over the established name, given time. And the gaming industry's history has given us all the clues we need to see that we're once again witnessing a shift; in perception at the very least.
Sega used to be dominant in Europe, once. There were days where the NES was a poor man's Master System, and Super Nintendo struggled against Mega Drive. Sony did something fantastic and miraculous and took food from both companies' mouths with PlayStation. Although for the first six or so months and before, guess what a lot of people were saying:
"Sony doesnít stand a chance against Sega or Nintendo, the fanbase is too big."
"Sega has Sonic, Nintendo has Mario, what does Sony have?"
"PlayStation's just a ramped up SNES CD, the left-overs of the Nintendo/Sony collaboration."
"It's another 3DO. That machine had Panasonic, Sanyo and Goldstar behind it, a Time Magazine product of the year award AND the best version of FIFA Soccer and it still got pounded."
"Japan is Nintendo land, Europe Sega land and the US is mostly split between the two. Sony's got nothing left to fight for."
And so on.
How quickly things change.
But why do people fear Nintendo becoming the leader this generation? What is it about Wii that poses such a threat?
It likely boils down to any number of prominent reasons, of which there'll probably be many more than listed here...
1. A generation has grown-up with PlayStation dominance
Change always brings out derision and the greater the change, the louder the noise. Fact is, a whole generation of gamers have grown-up knowing the joys of Sony's hardware and distinction. PlayStation opened up videogaming to a whole new audience that was previously ignored by Sega and Nintendo, and thus we saw the industry reborn. And as with any generational rebirth, we saw new genres like survival horror, original franchises (such as the magnificent Gran Turismo) and fresh takes on older series' that became much more than their predecessors ever did (Metal Gear, stand up and take a bow).
But now some are afraid of what a potential Sony 'failure' will bring. That they may not like this new change of crown and all the games they grew up loving are about to become the thing of the past. Apparently.
So, pretty much what Nintendo and Sega fans went through just before Sony came. And what Atari gamers experienced before that. It happens. And guess what; it'll keep on happening, whether you like it or not. Even if Nintendo does take centre stage, be safe in the fact that it won't be forever. It may take five to 10 years, butÖ
2. The era of waggle will mean losing beloved genres
Relating to the last point, this fear comes from not being able to see certain genres evolve to their full promise because developers will be split between wanting to create games that involve motion control but without the benefits of graphical horsepower that PS3 and Xbox 360 bring. The result will be genres that are newly popular (such as party/mini games) will become more predominant and the hardcore demographic will lose out.
Which isnít going to happen.
Yes, each generation of progression brings forward a new genre that takes advantage of the novel control method. Yes, there are more casuals in gaming more than before, who probably arenít too interested in Metal Gears and such. But Wii doesnít exist in a vacuum. Even if those games donít sell as much as they used to, many won't totally disappear. Developers will just find a new way to approach them. The advantages of a popular format means a greater chance of hitting a niche audience Ė the target width is that much wider. And we may even see new life breathed into older, previously dead game types, like point-click, in the same way DS has resuscitated the graphical adventure.
The splinter between 'now gen' and 'next gen' doesnít mean the end of older genres; it means more choice than we've ever had before, especially with virtual console capabilities. Enjoy it.
3. Next generation advances will slow down needlessly
Jumping from point 2), in the eyes of some, Wii becoming a driving force could mean generations from this point on will be stunted in terms of overall physics and visual progression because dev companies will be looking at other ways to make games better.
Erm, is that really such a bad thing?
Okay, it's an understatement. We all love pretty games and physics-rich gameplay. I'm looking forward to BioShock, GTA IV and Alan Wake as much as the next person. But sadly, those titles are among a minority. Many developers simply can't afford to push that sort of progression to the level and frequency we'd all like. And as such, we're more likely to see slightly prettier versions of what we've been playing the last generation. Which is a shaky proposition, given high end visuals can be dangerously expensive and no guarantee of success. Anyone remember the reaction to the first batch of 360 games we saw? The howls of derision that unfairly met Dead or Alive 5, Perfect Dark Zero and others? The similar strain of disappointment meeting Devil May Cry 4 -and there is plenty, unfortunately- on PS3 right now?
Games development IS more expensive than it's ever been. There's only so far High Definition and graphical upgrades can take a medium that's INTERACTIVE. Motion control has given us a new paradigm to follow and the rewards will be well and truly reaped when the industry balances to accommodate. All home consoles will be waggling next generation, believe me. Donít worry; we'll still see some visually stunning stuff for as well in five years time and the graphical jump will still "make you say 'wow'" (really). Just because the weakest machine may take the lead, it doesnít mean everything else will take baby steps Ė because the weakest machine has always been the trailblazer anyway and it never stops the following generations from pushing the optical envelope.
4. More casuals/non gamers = "oh noes, the destruction of teh industry!"
Or, otherwise more commonly known as: elitism. The surge of new blood to the industry because of Wii's mass appeal has caused some hardcore gamers to cry foul because it means less hardcore games, more mainstream pap and so the medium will sink from the weight of despair.
But - this is how it's always been. Usually when the industry leader changes hands, too.
Nintendo and Sega brought more gamers to the medium when they took over from Atari, Sony did the same when it claimed the torch, and Nintendo appears to be doing the same again. Without these new people, videogaming would start to eat its own tail and its audience would eventually stagnate. Even at its peak, the millions of gamers out there don't rank to even a medium sized number of the potential NON gamers yet to be discovered. Each company is looking to tap that unnoticed fanbase with every new machine, because growth is utterly essential for survival. Same with any other industry. Of course that means change and adaptation. Evolution. And it won't always be pretty. You think some of the older film-makers like all the movies that are made today? Some complain about the lack of 'purity' in film-making, the licensed dross and so onÖ and it's the same with the music biz. We all grow and change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse - and our entertainment is no different. We were all 'newbs' once. Every single one of us.
Ask yourself this: before you discovered games, would you deny yourself entry to the medium because old school gamers were being equally elitist about your tastes at the time? Because it's essentially the same thing.
The games industry will be around longer than most of us reading this now, no matter how young you may be. Through new blood. Better that than no industry at all, right?
5. People just donít like Nintendo
And in many cases, rightly so. The company has been an ogre for a long time, mistreating gamers and industry workers alike through shoddy releases, bad relationships, delayed conversions, pricing and some rather spurious and 'misplaced truths'.
However, I've yet to see any other console publisher not display the same foibles.
Every single one of them has done something appalling, suspect or somewhat stupid throughout their lifespan. None of them are infallible and none of them can be deemed as 'nice'; they're a business after all, and bow to the great money god of the sky. To some, trading Sony for Nintendo is a matter of 'better the devil you know'; and as many know Sony's rule for so long they're a tad hesitant to swap. But each generational leader experiences a fall through hubris; taking their public for granted and making noticeable sins deeply rooted in pride and overconfidence. At the same time, the previous victor playing catch-up has to try and regain that same public it lost. And how does it do that?
By treating them better. Keeping promises. Making more intelligent judgments.
Nintendo may not be the soft and cuddly corp. we may be led to believe. But it's certainly no less an irritant than its rivals, after being humbled by Sony - a humbling that was long needed and necessary to keep it actually TRYING to please us. It makes them fight for our cash instead of coasting on conceit. Nintendo has certainly changed for the better Ė who thought it could actually follow through its worldwide launch schedule for Wii?
Things have changed a lot in ten years.
So donít fear change. Change is good. Because if there's one thing we as gamers should especially be aware of; it's that when something changes and thus challenges us, rising to the occasion is the best damn thing that can come from it.