Sony And MS Can Ignore Nintendo
So there are these two basketball teams going at it on the blacktop; at first, one team just continues to throw down rim-rattling dunks and continues to dominate. It's like the Globetrotters goin' nuts. Then, the other team starts to recruit some star players, and now, the once-trod-upon team is rapidly making a comeback and cutting into the lead. Now, across the way, there's a baseball team practicing; no game going on, just a practice. They've already won a championship, and they're just breezin' along with an easy workout.
In this scenario, if you couldn't already guess, the Xbox 360 is the first b-ball team, the PS3 is the comeback competitor, and the baseball stars represent the Wii. The point is obvious: the PS3 and 360 will continue to do battle for quite some time while the Wii won't even factor in because, contrary to popular fanboy belief, the Wii is not a direct competitor. Why? The PS3 and 360 caters to gamers while the Wii caters to non-gamers; the families, the gadget-lovers, the trend-followers, etc. All one has to do is check the marketing campaigns for all three interested parties, and that should be more than enough evidence. The Wii commercials so far have featured senior citizens bowling, parents and children playing together, two adult women wandering around in Animal Crossing, dozens of people in the background trying out the new Wii instruments, and the like. All of this indicates one common focus. It's the worldwide appeal of something accessible, and there's nothing wrong with that, but...
In any Wii commercial you have ever seen, would you ever locate someone you would perceive as a "gamer?" Honestly? Furthermore, it's painfully obvious Nintendo isn't interested in producing impressive software; it's all about the gimmick and always has been. Just look at 2008. Of the top 25 titles of the year, how many are on the Wii? 1? 2? Any? Or perhaps the better question is, will any Wii titles be considered for Game of the Year against the likes of MGS4, GTAIV, Gears of War 2, Fallout 3, Dead Space, LittleBigPlanet, etc.? The Wii defenders will instantly play the "yeah, we like to have fun" card, which of course implies that those who prefer the PS3 and 360 aren't having fun. ...yes, that's a water-tight argument there. You Wii lovers certainly can't hide behind a tower of top-notch software; it's basically all on the PS3 and 360, so that's a waste of time. The titles that push the envelope and make this generation what it is aren't possible on the Wii.
And that's because the Wii kinda operates in a weird parallel universe outside the gaming industry. Yes, they're video games...um...kinda. They're appreciated so long as the gimmick is appreciated. Look, I will forever applaud Nintendo for going a different direction in this new generation and deciding not to challenge Sony and Microsoft; they simply targeted a demographic that - as far as I can tell - is the exact opposite demographic that would buy the PS3 and/or 360. While I'm aware it's purely anecdotal evidence, let me just say that everyone I know who owns a Wii most certainly isn't a gamer, and would never own either the PS3 or 360. They saw the commercials and thought it'd be a cool electronic toy for themselves or the kids; the last video game they played was Pac-Man. What, with the trillions of Wiis around the world, do you really, truly, honestly believe we're talking about the sudden explosion of gamers? Or, and I'm just tossing this out there, we're talking about everyone else...?
I hold nothing against Nintendo, nor do I care if you're a Wii fan. If you're having fun, great. It's all entertainment, but no logical human can ever say that the PS3 and 360 are in direct competition with the Wii. Totally different target audience, and a totally different method of delivering entertainment. One is a video game, the other is more like one of those old Tiger handhelds brought to life in your hands with a fancy peripheral. The point is, Sony and MS should just focus on themselves and each other, as should those who follow the industry. And I'll tell you this- the more we move through this generation, the more my theory will become accepted...the more everyone will start to recognize the distinct difference between the PS3/360 and the Wii.
12/4/2008 Ben Dutka