I have to admit, I got this one wrong. Really wrong. I had no clue that Nintendo would even survive, much less thrive in the competitive market that is somewhat known as the “next-gen” console wars.
In case you’ve been living under a rock (or just don’t care), Nintendo was considered a distant third to the Microsoft Xbox (2nd) and the Sony PlayStation 2. Admitedly, the top 2 were debatable. Xbox had the better technology as it entered the market much later, but the PS2’s library and possession of more exclusive titles (which continue to excel even today, a la God of War II) I think edged it out. While this makes for a good debate, it was clear that the Nintendo Gamecube was clearly third – despite the quality exclusive titles that it possessed. I seem to recall that the Gamecube was also priced lower than the other consoles as well.
So when Nintendo announced their “next-gen” console would be cheaper than the Xbox 360 and the PS3, I thought they were like done like disco. Instead, they are now the reigning champs – in market share. While both the 360 and PS3 are almost equal in current graphics output (the subject of a previous post), more people are buying Nintendo Wii’s.
Here’s my anecdotal proof. Go into any gaming store and ask for a 360, PS3, and a Wii. Odds are, the Wii is sold out. In fact, a small side market/black market has sprung up on craigslist reselling marked up Wii’s. While there are many theories as to why a console that has pretty crappy graphics (respectively) is smearing the competition, a lot of people point to the “crossover appeal” – i.e. people who don’t normally play video games are playing video games.
But what’s the catch. Well, unlike people who understand a “Leroy Jenkins” reference, these people … well … normally don’t buy video games. A console is normally sold (usually significantly) below cost, and the companies make up the lost revenue by getting a cut of the video games released. So while I go out and buy Halo 3, people who have a Wii will go out and apparently do Yoga.
Hey, I think it’s crazy. But then, I thought the Wii was crazy too. Maybe Nintendo is getting out of the high-end market and instead creating a new demigraphic – the “really really casual gamer.” Only time will tell if this will work.