Ah yes, this was pretty inevitable. Nintendo is facing dropping sales and earnings for another year, and as such, it should come as no surprise that they have just announced the Wii’s successor. The Japanese gaming giant will unveil the machine during E3 in June, and the device is scheduled for release in 2012.
The Wii has had its run. Sales are dropping for a second year in a row, and as such, so are profits and earnings. The past two fiscal years, sales of the Wii dropped more than 20% each year, which only highlights the longevity issue of the console, especially since sales of the Playstation 3 and Xbox360 show no signs of slowing down. Nintendo has to do something to turn the tide.
I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I do not like the Wii. It is underpowered, and its controls are inaccurate and simply don’t work as well as a normal, honest-to-god controller. I play games to unwind, to relax – and you can’t relax flailing a piece of plastic around randomly in the hopes the darn thing will finally register the correct movement. The Wii’s controller was fun for 15 minutes, and then the novelty wore off for me.
Worse yet, the selection of games is abysmal. The few games that can be classified as ‘good’ only serve to highlight the total lack of creativity in Nintendo’s game design department – Mario this, Zelda that, Metroid whatever. No truly epic games like Dragon Age: Origins, Oblivion, Heavy Rain, Mass Effect, and so on. There’s only so many times you can shove a Mario platformer in my face – and it stopped being fun right around Mario 64 was released.
Let me reiterate that this is merely my opinion, and that if you are having lots of fun with your Wii, then yay for you. I only do think that the slump in sales, and the fact that most of the Wiis I know are collecting dust in closets, illustrate that I’m not alone. As such, I believe that for Nintendo to truly turn the tide, the company will need to release more than just a ‘Wii HD’.
My fear is that Nintendo is only going to present an updated Wii, with more powerful hardware for HD graphics, and an improved motion tracking sensor. In this scenario, we’d be treated to another round of the exact same Mario/Zelda/Metroid games, all with the HD moniker attached to their titles. I’m not sure how likely this scenario is – but then that voice in the back of my head reminds me that this is the same company which released Super Mario Bros. Wii and Wii Sports Resort as something new and innovative.
My hope is that Nintendo leaves this silly motion-control thing for what it is (a silly gimmick) and releases a console where developers can once again make my jaw drop in the same way it dropped when I saw Donkey Kong Country for the first time, or when I played 4-player Goldeneye in split-screen for the first time, or when it hit me that the company managed to transfer Samus to a 3D world in Metroid Prime. That is the Nintendo I used to be a fan of.