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  1. #1
    Member Corey's Avatar
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    Is Wii The Games Industry's Saviour?

    A look at how the Wii's success and popularity has impacted the game industry. Has the Wii gone a long way to saving the gaming industry?

    Let that question just linger in your head for a short while.

    What's likely to be the response is a barrage of other related questions. Has Wii 'saved' the games industry in ANY way? How can it? Does the industry even NEED saving? And from what?

    All valid points, none of which yield immediately obvious answers. But there's a level of noticeable change in the industry that Wii is instigating to strongly suggest evidence of the machine's importance.

    The most recent NPD report showed Nintendo not only did 'good business' for North America in April; it absolutely dominated. At 360,000 units, it sold over twice what Xbox 360 did (174,000) for the month, and left PlayStation3 eating a large amount of crow after it only managed a rather shockingly anaemic 82,000; a number beaten even by Nintendo's creaking Game Boy Advance.

    Taking Wii away from that equation paints a disturbing picture of the home market. Xbox 360, while stabilising over the past half year, had a bad month, while PS3 suffered a terrible and utterly humiliating one, rather unfairly to boot. Both are fantastic machines with some brilliant games -Xbox 360 in particular, given the larger amount of time on the market- and deserve higher sales than that.

    So… it's just a slow month. It happens.

    Right?

    Well, yes… and no. April is rarely a great time for shifting consoles, given it's on the borderline of what usually ends up the slowest and most barren season for the games industry. The spring-into-summer dry spell factor cannot be underestimated.

    Yet… Wii sold all those units. In April. It didn’t just move a small number compared to its rivals; it pushed an OVERWHELMING number. An effect of Super Paper Mario? Well, looks to be that way, or at least in some form; the Nintendo game sold an impressive 352,000 for the month, which would ratio an attach-rate of nearly 1-1 to machines sold (although obviously that's not the case in realistic terms, but in number correlation it's an interesting factor). But Wii Play also had a large following in the same duration, at 249,000 units. So while software for other formats track at around the number of units shifted in that same month for their respective machines, both Wii Play and Super Paper Mario's strong showing suggest the absence of either one arguably wouldn’t have had too large an effect on Wii's sales for the month when you factor in the 'free' Wii Sports as well. It may not have sold as many machines without all three influential titles, but it likely would have still sold a large amount by comparison to others.

    The question you have to ask is this: if Wii never existed, where would all of those new Wii users have migrated to?

    And the most likely answer happens to be the scariest one; they mostly wouldn’t have gone anywhere. They probably just wouldn’t be playing videogames.

    This may seem a little disingenuous, so let me explain before anyone starts revving up the flame engines of war. Wii's demographic is a curious one, mixing hardcore, casuals, lapsed and non gamers alike into one giant melting pot. Each games console does this to a degree, so nothing new there. However, Wii is easily the most prominent and successful console to do so and has clearly not only found an audience that had not truly been acknowledged before, but that audience has responded in turn by being far more noticeable. It would be a very myopic person who would deny that Wii has 'created' more gamers than any other console this generation. As I've stated many times before, when consoles are this obviously popular it's because they've found a new market and are sustaining its interest – we've seen the same effect with DS, PlayStation2, PS One and other big hitters.

    Consider many of these new gamers disinterested in gaming before, as pretty much Wii's mantra. Not hard to believe: history dictates a potential market leader will find a new type of gamer (either ignored or just apathetic to the medium) faster than its rivals and explore them. Wii is doing for these untapped gamers what PS One did for their equivalent around ten years ago (albeit in a different niche)… just that instead of the 18-35 demographic, clubbers, adults and 'cool kids' that Sony courted, Nintendo has swooped in and got a large blot of flypaper for lapsed, female and non gamers.

    Yes, PS3 and Xbox 360 may have got a very tiny percentage of them with overlap, but their main targets are the same hardcore that their predecessors appealed to. Which in the eyes of the audience that Wii currently has in its entirety, is nowhere near as appealing – otherwise their sales would clearly reflect otherwise. Without Wii, chances are they may have shrugged their shoulders and just not have bothered buying a console at all because prior to that they're conspicuous by their absence. And so the sales you see for April probably wouldn’t have been too much different from what you see now, leaving just a bare few extra units sold for Xbox 360 and PS3, and minus Wii's impressive batch.

    I'm not saying that every single one of Wii's current six to seven million plus owners wouldn’t have purchased another machine had Nintendo's alternative one existed. I'm willing to bet there still would have been a decent number of migrations, not to mention those who own more than one console. But of that number, we'd be picking out the hardcore and casual gamers ALREADY interested in gaming, rather than the non and lapsed ones who are spiking Wii's sales and keeping them so consistently buoyant. There would have been increases in units shifted, but not the large number Wii seems to push on a monthly basis.

    Without the little white machine, this driving audience would have just continued what they'd been doing the past fifteen or so years… and ignored gaming. In terms of sales figures, they just would have ceased to exist.

    If you think differently, ask yourself if all the people who thought our medium was 'geeky' or 'childish' before they saw the light of the brilliant PS One when it came out would have bought Nintendo or Sega's new console.

    Would they?

    Of course they wouldn’t. In their eyes, gaming would have remained 'geeky' and 'childish' and they'd not bothered. Replace 'geeky' and 'childish' with 'inaccessible' and 'insular' and you have what today's market feels about gaming. And to them, Wii is neither and thus worth their time and money. As a result, the industry grows and potentially avoids a worrying state of stunted growth where sales are too minutely incremental to sustain the medium. What potentially follows from that is painful stagnation and eventually an industry crash dangerously similar to what we experienced in early to mid 1980s. Wii may well have saved us from such a bullet.


    Before cries of "bias mi'lud!" ring out, this isn’t something that can be attributed to any fanboyish 'Nintendo effect' either. Had the Kyoto based company released a highly powerful machine without motion control, games industry sales would still be in the comparative doldrums because it wouldn’t have attracted the same audience Wii does. This is primarily off the careful and well devised creation/use of the Wii remote, given the back-up of accessible hardware and a powerful image. The latter two are important, but without the remote they begin to flounder substantially as an industry expansion factor.


    This isn’t to say there's no bad side to all this. Wii's positive effect on the industry doesn’t come without question marks over how third-parties will deal with the fact Nintendo's software often sells far more than their own offerings. April's figures show a startling difference between the numbers moved by the big N's titles compared to those via third-parties, especially given the lack of non Nintendo Wii games in the top ten all format charts. If third-parties struggle, how can Wii be the 'saviour' of anything when it makes things more difficult for the majority of the development community?

    It's not something that can be answered easily. If third-parties fail to capitalise on Wii's success it does indeed create a vacuum effect that both PS3 and Xbox 360 have comparatively fewer problems with (neither format has to directly deal with the intimidating strength of Nintendo's games), which could damage certain companies and do more harm than good.

    However, the counter balance is that if Wii is expanding the industry as much as it is, then it means greater opportunities and a more forgiving atmosphere for error. It's better to do 'average' on a format with 10 million users than it is to do 'decently' on one with 5 million. Nintendo may not be the easiest publisher to work under, but when it houses a format that has an audience as swiftly growing as it is, the rewards are far greater than the risks. And if that means some devs would be willing to take a few more adventurous steps in design as well to stand out from the crowd or hell, just make BETTER games to force their way past Nintendo's first-party juggernauts, then we're the ones who benefit.

    Not everyone will like it, but Wii's achievements ARE good for the games industry. It may be too early to say whether it's 'saved' it, or even if it needed saving in the first place, but given how large our medium has grown -and essentially so- from its influence, one thing is very clear: we're far better off with it than without…

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  3. #2
    ...it gonna be zoppity tarheelsuperman's Avatar
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    I'm a prime example of a lapsed gamer who would not have purchased either the PS3 or the XBOX 360 had there not been a Wii. If it were not for the Wii I would not be remotely interested in gaming right now.

  4. #3
    G-JoKeR gpoleweski's Avatar
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    Yes, same here, me and my bro got the wii for christmas and my mum thought that was alot (no we're not pov) and that was as far as she would go. That's why I love nintendo so much because they explore new horizons and do what others haven't. That's why I love my DS and Wii. Now if the Wii had holographic discs (look it up) it would anihilate the opposition...Muahahahaha.
    Last edited by gpoleweski; 05-23-2007 at 01:59 AM.
    In bed by eight...home by eleven

  5. #4
    Banned Griever's Avatar
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    Saviour? That's a strong word considering the games industry wasn't failing and has been on the increase since, well, forever. Gaming is no longer seen as the thing that geeks do in their spare time anymore and having <insert console name here> is no longer seen as being a bad thing.

    Besides, do you not realise that saying "if the Wii didn't exist these people would not be gaming" is slightly oxymoronic? Just because people bought the Wii does not mean they would not have bought a different console if the Wii had never existed. It might have turned a few more people onto gaming with it's popularity but the figures wouldn't be that drastically offset. Most owners of the Wii were gamers before they got the Wii and still will be afterwards; if that wasn't true then Nintendo wouldn't have had the money to release the Wii in the first place, would it?

    Besides; gaming doesn't need saving - the PS1 already did that a decade ago.

  6. #5
    Moody Loner Rolex's Avatar
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    Corey,

    Hmmmm interesting [as usual], to sum your article up; for me; doesn't have anything to do with physical attributes as much as it does with the PHYSCOLOGY of it [the wii] all.

    The people [lapsed, casual and hardcore gamers] who are buying this console are not necessarily buying a machine per se, they are buying into what Nintendo want them to - the enjoyment of something not seen before; mass market wise.

    Nintendo have been clever with the specifics of the "feel" of Wii -
    > small innocent looking main unit
    > familiar remote controller with few buttons
    > no multi-media bobs & doo-dads to confuse [as such]
    > low price point & free game

    .....this aint anything but a recipe for physcological fuzzyness of course.
    Adults want to be hip with the kids and feel young again and jumping on a very accessible trend does just that. Kids just want to kill things with real time actions! Done and Done!!

    I totally agree with Griever with the notion that 'saviour' is a strong word - maybe look upon Wii as the 'chinese whisperer' for the games industry; spreading a tall tale of fun that you always doubted, you just didn't believe it, until you tried it out!

    My take on what Wii has done is very simple - as an industry outsider but a games player for 25 years (at least), both hardcore and lapsed - games were becoming a very staid medium on the whole, with a large majority being too niche (kiddie or hardcore), incredibly insular (communities and languages of their own), too complicated or intimidating for anyone below geekness, certainly too time consuming (epic) OR just plain shoddy not fun to play pap!!!
    Wii has injected some much needed fun into the proceedings and not just for one but for all!!

    It has certainly reached into pop culture and made a dent in the perception of electronic based interactive entertainment and shown the industry that money can be made outside of the general "it's fun to play games BUT serious fun!!" - I perceive both MS and Sony as taking themselves too seriously and Nintendo without the tie on, sitting around the corporate table, chewing gum and playing yo-yo!!

    Is this enough to boost an industry(?) that: as Griever pointed out: wasn't really seriously failing(?) [in public perception] - I don't know the answer to either statement but one thing I do hope; and this is from a 36yr old gamer; is that it injects some much needed life into the innovation of the pastime of gaming, from sitting in dark rooms playing space type sci-fi epics into progressing into the interactive movie that geeks have been promising for - like ever dude!!

    Regardless of the genuine fun it is to flail around like a lunatic in front of the tv screen, Nintendo / 3rd party devs should take heed with the fact that novelty is just that and to keep the masses in love with their little white friend then pushing the envelope is still necessary because you know that somewhere, sometime soon - imitation is the most dangerous form of flattery...
    Last edited by Rolex; 05-24-2007 at 05:15 AM.
    ---Smithy...
    "This IS the difference over the other systems....graphics can make you believe you're there to some extent but motion gesture can make you believe you're doing it!"

  7. #6
    WiiChat Feature Writer cbrotherson's Avatar
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    You know me, I like to poke a hornets nest and get people thinking – I'm all about pokey-thinky. Or something. I'll reply properly in a sec, Rolex, let me get to Griever first. Thank you both for reading and replying.

    Quote Originally Posted by Griever
    Saviour? That's a strong word considering the games industry wasn't failing and has been on the increase since, well, forever. Gaming is no longer seen as the thing that geeks do in their spare time anymore and having <insert console name here> is no longer seen as being a bad thing.
    Wrong tack. The industry on a business sense, was tettering on the brink for the past few years. On the surface it may not have looked that way, but the very fact a company the size of Take Two can find itself unsteady is a pretty clear indication. Read my feature over here: http://www.wiichat.com/nintendo-wii-...nsole-war.html about how the market needs new blood and direction every three generations.


    Besides, do you not realise that saying "if the Wii didn't exist these people would not be gaming" is slightly oxymoronic? Just because people bought the Wii does not mean they would not have bought a different console if the Wii had never existed. It might have turned a few more people onto gaming with it's popularity but the figures wouldn't be that drastically offset. Most owners of the Wii were gamers before they got the Wii and still will be afterwards; if that wasn't true then Nintendo wouldn't have had the money to release the Wii in the first place, would it?
    Again, wrong tack. Not to dismiss what you're saying, as it's valid, but it missed my point somewhat – many of Wii's owners are hardcore, yes, but many of them probably (I'm not putting all my eggs into the basket here) are not fussed about gaming, prior. Not enough to buy a new console, that's for sure. Wii's audience is still largely gamers, but there's a significant number of non gamers there that keep it buoyant, hence perpetual sales. When a new console's sales stablise (as Xbox 360's has) they don’t change much over the space of a few months. Wii's seem to be increasing, which is the curious thing.

    The industry does not grow off the bodies who sustained it before. It grows off new blood, of which Wii provides more than other consoles at the moment. Which is why there's never an exhaustible audience out there – there's always someone who hasn’t gamed before and each time we see a flux of growth, that's the reason. As someone who's tried market expansion and had a career of watching audience figures in games (when I was at Yahoo), this is utterly vital.

    Nintendo's money is a moot point – it's still technically living off SNES and N64 money given its business structure, trust me on that And that's even before the DS and Game Boy franchise.


    Besides; gaming doesn't need saving - the PS1 already did that a decade ago.
    It will need saving (in this relative point, not on a linear fashion) when its audience starts to dry up. Which is around, oooh, every three generations, funnily enough

  8. #7
    WiiChat Feature Writer cbrotherson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rolex
    Hmmmm interesting [as usual], to sum your article up; for me; doesn't have anything to do with physical attributes as much as it does with the PHYSCOLOGY of it [the wii] all.
    I would agree there – it plays a massive part in terms of gaming's perception (as it did with the PS One, although it had a lot on its side with third parties and such).


    The people [lapsed, casual and hardcore gamers] who are buying this console are not necessarily buying a machine per se, they are buying into what Nintendo want them to - the enjoyment of something not seen before; mass market wise.

    Nintendo have been clever with the specifics of the "feel" of Wii -
    > small innocent looking main unit
    > familiar remote controller with few buttons
    > no multi-media bobs & doo-dads to confuse [as such]
    > low price point & free game

    .....this aint anything but a recipe for physcological fuzzyness of course.
    Agreed - although that itself comes from how well Wii Sports was marketed. Anecdotally, every single person I've shown my machine to has been impressed by either Sports or Play, but not so much Zelda (which is easily the best game). To them, even with motion control, Zelda represents what they're not fussed about with gaming, while Sports and Play are the antithesis of it. Bizarro world!


    I totally agree with Griever with the notion that 'saviour' is a strong word - maybe look upon Wii as the 'chinese whisperer' for the games industry; spreading a tall tale of fun that you always doubted, you just didn't believe it, until you tried it out!
    Heh, well I used 'saviour' intentionally to gather discussion – it works better than saying 'helper' or even 'helper monkey'


    It has certainly reached into pop culture and made a dent in the perception of electronic based interactive entertainment and shown the industry that money can be made outside of the general "it's fun to play games BUT serious fun!!" - I perceive both MS and Sony as taking themselves too seriously and Nintendo without the tie on, sitting around the corporate table, chewing gum and playing yo-yo!!
    LOL. It's true, the audience does have a stranger perception of Nintendo compared to others… it usually disappears once it's crushed your spirit and refuses to return your emails. I'm a jilted lover *sobs*

    Is this enough to boost an industry(?) that: as Griever pointed out: wasn't really seriously failing(?) [in public perception] - I don't know the answer to either statement but one thing I do hope; and this is from a 36yr old gamer; is that it injects some much needed life into the innovation of the pastime of gaming, from sitting in dark rooms playing space type sci-fi epics into progressing into the interactive movie that geeks have been promising for - like ever dude!!
    Yeah, we've come a long way (baby) Although as I said to Griever, the industry doesn’t like to let you know its bleeding. A lot of us just like playing good games, but there's a hell of a lot of turmoil going on just to get those games out there. Right now, behind the scenes, many companies are still sweating it out and scrambling to get on the Wii train because they put all their bets on PS3 and are now watching it come last. To be honest, it's a very slow train wreck, but it will right itself in time. Sadly, we may lose a couple companies in the process before that happens.

    Regardless of the genuine fun it is to flail around like a lunatic in front of the tv screen, Nintendo / 3rd party devs should take heed with the fact that novelty is just that and to keep the masses in love with their little white friend then pushing the envelope is still necessary because you know that somewhere, sometime soon - imitation is the most dangerous form of flattery...
    Next gen all machines will waggle This gen, all machines will EVENTUALLY waggle… that's all I'm saying

  9. #8
    Moody Loner Rolex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbrotherson
    Agreed - although that itself comes from how well Wii Sports was marketed. Anecdotally, every single person I've shown my machine to has been impressed by either Sports or Play, but not so much Zelda (which is easily the best game). To them, even with motion control, Zelda represents what they're not fussed about with gaming, while Sports and Play are the antithesis of it. Bizarro world!
    Corey - this is what we have discussed in other threads and it rings true every time - Nintendo / 3rd party devs (3PDs) still have to come up with titles that emulate the sheer fun of sports but still keep some freshness in the mix. Could the market stand 10 versions of tennis etc...? Cheesus I hope not but I'm sure it will come though.

    The line that needs to be drawn in the sand is, where is the transition line from causal to consistent gamer - one who will play games of the ilk of Zelda, Redsteel, Godfather, SSX etc.. surely this is where the longevity will come into the market and not the reliance on the perpetual motion of people buying wii just for sports and play!?!


    Heh, well I used 'saviour' intentionally to gather discussion – it works better than saying 'helper' or even 'helper monkey'
    Hmmm velly interlesting Mr. Bond...ahem Brotherson, devious by nature I presume

    Yeah, we've come a long way (baby) Although as I said to Griever, the industry doesn’t like to let you know its bleeding. A lot of us just like playing good games, but there's a hell of a lot of turmoil going on just to get those games out there. Right now, behind the scenes, many companies are still sweating it out and scrambling to get on the Wii train because they put all their bets on PS3 and are now watching it come last. To be honest, it's a very slow train wreck, but it will right itself in time. Sadly, we may lose a couple companies in the process before that happens.
    Yeah but a betting man [I only gamble when I order takeaway food!!], wouldn't bet against Sony gaining market share in time, especially if - for example -Nintendo and 3PDs don't keep the Wii experience good and tight, just because people buy the machine doesn't always mean that they will use them and/or buy new games all the time.

    I do want to mention the power of the Wii as well - do you think that the graphics, when compared to the other consoles, will hit the Wii with any impact. I for one am not that bothered, I prefer good controls over the look but for casual gamers it's not such a problem but for the diehards do you think that a succession of average responsiveness and poor graphics would impact Wii game sales? Interesting to know what anyone thinks..


    Next gen all machines will waggle This gen, all machines will EVENTUALLY waggle… that's all I'm saying
    "You say waggle, I say wiggle. Let's call the whole thing o......" Ahh I'm off out to poke a stick at PS3 owners....if I can find one"
    Last edited by Rolex; 05-25-2007 at 12:00 AM.
    ---Smithy...
    "This IS the difference over the other systems....graphics can make you believe you're there to some extent but motion gesture can make you believe you're doing it!"

  10. #9
    WiiChat Feature Writer cbrotherson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rolex
    Corey - this is what we have discussed in other threads and it rings true every time - Nintendo / 3rd party devs (3PDs) still have to come up with titles that emulate the sheer fun of sports but still keep some freshness in the mix. Could the market stand 10 versions of tennis etc...? Cheesus I hope not but I'm sure it will come though.
    Heh, this is the thing – you can tell many companies are caught flat footed because there's an astonishing lack of 'me too' software at the moment. EA is starting to learn already, with its EA Playground title and even trying to get ahead of the game with Boogie (which could be MASSIVE… I certainly wouldn’t bet against it being one of the biggest titles this year) but yeah, there's a lack of Mii Too Sports at the moment and by the time they come out they probably would have missed that particular boat. Or maybe not. The market is funny.

    The line that needs to be drawn in the sand is, where is the transition line from causal to consistent gamer - one who will play games of the ilk of Zelda, Redsteel, Godfather, SSX etc.. surely this is where the longevity will come into the market and not the reliance on the perpetual motion of people buying wii just for sports and play!?!
    It's coming – alas, it seems only Nintendo and (to a degree) EA was truly ready to start drawing that line. Come the end of the year, I imagine Wii's catalogue will be so broad it'll all be moot. But really, as said, a games console only needs one really game changing title and if there's no competition it can live off that for nearly a whole year before its target audience gets tired of it (Nintendogs style). Although any company worth its salt would never let it go that long without following up.


    Hmmm velly interlesting Mr. Bond...ahem Brotherson, devious by nature I presume
    "We have ways of making you talk"

    Yeah but a betting man [I only gamble when I order takeaway food!!], wouldn't bet against Sony gaining market share in time, especially if - for example -Nintendo and 3PDs don't keep the Wii experience good and tight, just because people buy the machine doesn't always mean that they will use them and/or buy new games all the time.
    Sony will regain market share (it better), although right now the odds are hugely stacked against it – PS3 is fighting against a strong X360 for essentially the same market audience and losing lost ground and exclusives (MS isn’t quite done with capturing them all, again, trust me on that )- and its sureshots like FF and Metal Gear will come too late to recapture lost ground. It stands a good chance of coming second in Japan, simply because MS is so weak there, but everywhere else is open like a can of beans at a cowboy convention. Nintendo has mindshare which, short of the company doing something very stupid, it wont lose for a while yet, and once you have that and the generation as afoot, the momentum becomes almost irresistible. The generation, in terms of leadership, is almost as good as over once we reach the end of 2007, and while we're a long way off, the development community is already picking sides because of lead time and such – and right now they're swaying to Nintendo. It'll take another year at least for the swing to go back IF they want to go back, and by then we'll be half way through the generation (already!). Nintendo isn’t particularly concerned that its audience buys all the games out there for Wii, just that they get Wii in the first place – as callous as it may sound, once that's done everyone else will sink or swim by their own devices. Of course Nintendo will want partners to succeed on the format for a multitude of reasons, but buying new titles is not necessarily the audience changer when you're pretty much alone in the market.

    I do want to mention the power of the Wii as well - do you think that the graphics, when compared to the other consoles, will hit the Wii with any impact. I for one am not that bothered, I prefer good controls over the look but for casual gamers it's not such a problem but for the diehards do you think that a succession of average responsiveness and poor graphics would impact Wii game sales? Interesting to know what anyone thinks..
    Personally? I don’t think it'll impact too much either way – we hardcore are so damn small in number that we could all stop buying consoles from tomorrow and the audience figures for machines like Wii and DS (and to a lesser extent, 360) would barely move. Art style and design also tend to be a factor, so that should be interesting to see - Wind Waker, for example, still holds up very well, more so than most Wii games in fact, which leads me to believe devs will start thinking a little less conventionally soon enough. Or at least, they'll have to eventually.

    "You say waggle, I say wiggle. Let's call the whole thing o......" Ahh I'm off out to poke a stick at PS3 owners....if I can find one"
    I saw a routine starting up there, top hats and canes on tow...

    I'd be a PS3 owner… but I can barely afford a Wii game, let alone a PS3 console Who'd be a writer, eh...

  11. #10
    WiiChat Member Diomedes's Avatar
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    Why are there so many banned members?

    As for the article, very very interesting, you must have alot of time on your hands. You get paid for it or something?

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