ORLY? Nintendo's Wii successor

Filed under: , , , , by: Andy Robinson

Word on the street is that Nintendo is hard at work developing its next console to follow-up the hugely popular money printing press they dubbed the Wii. While there are some that are excited about the Nintendo's next stab, I am rather hesitant about the Big N's next offering. Before you hate, allow me to explain.

The Wii is amazing! Who knew that such an innocent little white box would attract so much attention. Grandmas, aunts, uncles, schools, nursing homes, bars - everyone has swallowed the white pill and it's a blast! I bought a Wii the second week (I thought about using "wiik" but decided it was overplayed like a song on the radio) after it came out and had a great time with it. Friends and family would all gather around the glowing blue aura and we'd lose hours bowling or boxing, running around in a green elf suit or hunting Nazis in Call of Duty. Ah, those were the days.

Then, I returned back to work at a small, private liberal arts school in a small, remote town in the Midwest. Aside from the occasional gathering of college students at my house or taking the hallowed white box to a prearranged engagement at a friend's house, it sat unused in my entertainment center. It quickly went from a fun party type console to a cute novelty.

A few short months went by and I picked up an Xbox 360 on Ebay after giving in to the peer pressure from a few of my college buddies. This became the platform of choice for me to game on and I've wasted countless hours on the experience. Microsoft has focused on the core gamer and continues to do so while enhancing the Xbox with the recent announcement of Netflix and a new dashboard due out this fall. Enough about M$ and its devilish ways; back to Nintendo.

I may be putting words in to Nintendo's mouth, but it seems that the core market is not something they are going to focus on. This is the major flaw in Nintendo's marketing strategy. Gamers are always looking forward to the next hardware announcement. The general market (non-core gamers), the main consumer of the Wii, might not be waiting in the wings to drop another $250 on something that they don't perceive as necessary. Think about it - tech enthusiasts, regardless of the hobby, purchase the new thing because it is new. Consumers, on the other hand, are much more reluctant to stay on the cutting edge. That's why, I believe, the Wii is still in such short supply. The demand has persisted because general consumers are being coaxed over time to jump on the bandwagon even though the core-gamer fervor has died down.

Generating the kind of excitment Nintendo did with the Wii is going to be quite a challenge the next time around, and at least they are aware of it. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said, "But the hardware is a kind of box that consumers reluctantly buy in order to play our games." Too right, Mr. Iwata. Too right.

For what it's worth (nothing at all), my advice to Nintendo is this: Hold off on releasing your next console! After openly shunning the core market at E3, you've lost a lot of following (save for the fanboys). The general market will not be as quick to adopt a new console if you roll it out in the same time frame that console successors are released and your demand will not be as high. Regardless of how awesome your new console is, it will not generate the same demand as the Wii because consumers, while they may enjoy nursing home golf tournaments on the Wii, won't see the necessity for HD golf tournaments with more realistic Miis!

*Disclaimer: I sold my Wii to a coworker back in November 2007 so he could give it to his kids for Christmas. If the online component has gotten better (read: deployed), that's wonderful. I wouldn't know.