Allow me to say that I don’t currently own a Wii. I’ve owned two of them within the span of the console’s existence, but I sold both of them for a profit of at least $100 each time (remember these are used consoles). The possibility of actually making money on the stupid things, even though I liked them, was too good to pass up.
There are some problems with the Wii. It doesn’t run in HD (sometimes not even in widescreen mode). It has a ton of poopy games. Nintendo isn’t hitting the hardcore gaming market very hard. Broken TVs and other damages have been reported as a result of enthusiastic Wii sessions (see here: Wii Damage). Even after two years, the console seems to never be on store shelves.
But Nintendo has shipped (and probably sold) 34,500,000 Wiis to date. Nintendo must be doing something right…right?
1. – It’s cheap. The Wii remote might be considered “next gen,” but the hardware inside the Wii is barely more powerful than the Gamecube before it. This means that Nintendo was not only able to debut its console for $250 (below the $400 XBox 360 and $600 PS3), but it was already making money at its initial price; the 360 has just now started making money on each console sold, and the PS3 is still causing losses for Sony.
2. – The Blue Ocean Strategy. While Sony and Microsoft went for the Halo-playing, swearing, 18-35 hardcore (and mostly male) demographic, Nintendo attacked the untapped potential of an entirely new gaming community: females and non-gamers. The Wii appeals to the broadest range of gamers. It’s fun. It’s community oriented. It’s “cool.”
3. – The Virtual Console. One of my first video game memories is me, as a five-year-old, watching a huge group of youth group students playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-out at someone’s house. I was way too young to be allowed to play at that particular party, but I grew up on Contra, Rygar, Zelda, and of course…Mario. Nintendo has hundreds of timeless classics lined up for the you to play (and pay for) on its Virtual Console. Reason number 46,364,891 that Nintendo is now printing money.
4. Personality. The Wii is inclusive and charming. The name itself (susceptible to all manner of ridicule from everyone on the globe) is sort of kidsy-sounding, but also alluring in a strange, cheeky way. Everything about it screams personality. It’s small, clean appearance and sleek user interface hint towards an admitted inspiration: Apple. That’s right…I just played the Apple card.
I don’t currently have one, and I can’t say that I’m going to get another to keep for good (though the thought has crossed my mind), but the Wii has done so many things right in this economic crunch, and has succeeded more so than Nintendo could’ve possibly had in mind.
Good for them. Good for Mario.