Nintendo President Satoru Iwata wants to talk about E3, wants to insist that his company isn’t going to bring the same weak ass-crap it brought to the show last year. As in many Nintendo news briefings, he’s talking about software – software that will help the Wii and DS surpass the lifetime sales of the Playstation 2! Cue the discussion among the battered Nintendo faithful about a new Zelda. This discussion will reach a fever-pitch by the time E3 rolls around, and will be deflated instantly by the thrilling announcement of Wii Stand, a game which uses a $50 add-on to simulate actual standing.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the Wii for more traditional gamers and developers alike is the sub-par software released for the console, and the inability for the decent stuff to make anyone who isn’t Nintendo any money. Compare this to both the DS and PS2, which have enjoyed similar wide adoption by consumers and devs and both have managed game libraries as wide and deep as any console in our medium’s short history. Even in their first two or three years, the DS and PS2 received games covering all genres, and third-party games sell well enough to justify continued support.
This is what should worry Nintendo the most about the Wii – their expanded audience seems to be making them plenty of money, but look at the facts. Their attach rate, or the ratio of consoles-to-software, has been and remains low. The only stuff that sells are Nintendo games, really – the Wii series of games sells well to their new audience, that fabled Blue Ocean, and the Marios and Zeldas sell to the people who would never have forsaken Nintendo in the first place. These are the same people who bought the Gamecube – you’re never going to alienate them.
The casual market has been extremely surprising up until now, defying expectations and propelling Nintendo back to the top from near-obscurity, but does the Wii (and the new strategy it embodies) have the staying power to really top the PS2, in terms of both numbers and quality software?