[This is for the Bitmob Writing Challenge this month; my topic was whether or not the Wii is dead. Read on to feel my thoughts.]
I find that the gaming community tends to lean toward extremes. A game is either an incredible piece of entertainment or a horrible mess that should have never been made in the first place. This mindset extends to hardware as well,with Nintendo's new home console, the Wii U, being the most recent target. Some have predicted this machine's fate already, as well as its predecessor, the Wii's, demise. Sometimes we really should take a step back and get a bit of perspective on the matter before jumping to one end or the other of the spectrum.
While I would love to say I get paid to write stuff like this, I don't, and as such I work in a retail store to pay the bills. Working in the electronics department there gives me a view of the average consumer that many in the gaming community don't have, and as such, I can safely say that while the Wii is approaching its end, it isn't quite dead yet.
Can you guess what the best-selling console was this holiday season in the store I work at? The Wii. The best-selling game this season? Just Dance 3 by far. While a little disheartening that the majority of these consumers miss out on some really great games due to either ignorance or sheer disinterest, the fact of the matter remains that the console still sells very well. Nintendo's newest hardware revision of the Wii has mostly fallen under the radar too. Taking out Gamecube compatibility allows them to lower the price and save more money, especially when the average person buying a Wii at this point doesn't even know what a Gamecube is.
Like it or not, Nintendo's motion-controlled gamble really took off running back in 2006, though not in the way that the company's fans expected. It would eventually become often referred to as “that bowling and tennis game” by parents and grandparents, and we would have to grit our teeth a little when people looked astonished the moment they learned that they could play more than Wii Sports on the console. The casual market is scoffed at by a large portion of the gaming community, and while I can understand a bit of frustration, is it so bad that more people have their hands on the console?
For the so-called “core” gamer, the Wii may very well be a dead console, with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword being its encore. There are not very many “core” titles being released, leaving us to hang on to Xenoblade Chronicles, Mario Party 9, and Rhythm Heaven Fever next year, if you could even consider some of them as “core” titles. A large portion of the market for the Wii leans toward the Wii Sports clones and dance games though, and they continue to sell quite well. It gets a little discouraging when I attempt to recommend some quality titles and a customer still opts for the shovelware, but as long as those people own the console and play games on it, it's not dead to them.
The biggest argument I see against the Wii is the advent of its successor on the horizon. The problem with that is simply this: the average consumer doesn't know the Wii U even exists. Heck, I've even asked a couple of my friends who regularly play games about it and they didn't know what it was. We still have a minimum of six months before we can expect anything else on that, and in the meantime, Nintendo will push whatever they can out of its current platform. For a lot of people, the Wii is enough, especially with the attractive price tag of $129.99 or at most $149.99.
I'm excited for the new console generation and the excellent potential I see in the Wii U, but I'm not so quick to shut the door on all of the people that are still working their way through it into the gaming world. People still want or still love their Wii, and essentially telling them to give up on it because a new console is coming has the potential to alienate them even further. Whether or not it is “dead” comes back to a matter of perspective. There are people still working their way to discovering the magic that you may have had with Nintendo's unique console.
For every copy of Just Dance and Deca Sports title sold, there is the potential of a Super Mario or Legend of Zelda purchase. If they love it enough, who knows – a Wii U may replace it one day. Let's not be so quick to scorn that which isn't quite like us and remember that every time one of those little white (or black) boxes sells, there are more gamers, more money in the industry, and therefore more games for gamers to play and share with an even bigger family than they had before.