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Talking Point: Can Nintendo's Next Console Top Wii's Success?

Posted by James Newton

Where to go after you've conquered the world?

The Wii is Nintendo's most successful home console ever, with 86 million machines sold around the world since it launched in 2006, but with the recent announcement of Nintendo's new console it's time to peek forward to the future.

Wii was a remarkable success because it did something drastically different for a games console: it focused on cheap, affordable hardware with an easy-to-grasp control system that invited all to play. Motion control was fresh and exciting in 2006, but now with Kinect for Xbox 360 and PlayStation Move on the market the novelty has worn off somewhat. Nintendo needs to innovate with its next console, but can it recapture the public's imagination?

Going Through the Motions

The humble Wii Remote is credited with kicking off the motion control revolution: getting gamers out of their seats and onto their feet to play Wii Sports was a watershed moment for Nintendo, harnessing natural instincts with a simple game that paved the way for much of the console's catalogue in years to come.

It wasn't just the Wii Remote that inspired gamers to get active though: the success of Wii Fit fuelled the console's widespread image as a basically good and healthy home presence: a masterstroke of Nintendo PR.

At What Cost?

Establishing the Wii as a family-friendly machine and all-around good time undoubtedly put a lot of machines in living rooms, but many core Nintendo gamers feel the machine moved too far away from the games they grew up with. Despite pleas and protests from fans, original entries in many favourite franchises — F-Zero, Star Fox, Pikmin and more — are nowhere to be seen on Wii.

Many also criticised Nintendo's failure to capitalise on the booming online services that have helped PS3 and Xbox 360 to expand their user base and offer compelling content and online multiplayer extremely cheaply. You need only look to the despair over the ongoing PlayStation Network outages to see how potent a weapon a good online service can be. Were the Wii's online servers to suffer a similar fate, would the wider gaming world even notice?

Where Next?

If Nintendo attempts to revitalise the Wii brand with a similar successor, the casual sector may well feel it's a case of "been there, done that", unless it can truly convince them there is a need to upgrade.

The rise of gaming on smart phones and portable devices may pose a more obvious threat to Nintendo's handheld business, but there's no doubt the gaming landscape will change drastically over the next console's lifespan. Players who picked up a Wii as a gateway into gaming may find their needs more easily met by a multifunction device than a dedicated gaming machine.

Whatever track Nintendo decides to take for its next home console, all eyes will be on the Japanese giant to see where the new machine will attempt to forge new ground. With president Satoru Iwata's assurance that it "will offer new ways to play in the home", can Nintendo make lightning strike twice with a super-successful home console?

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User Comments (44)

Cia

#3

Cia said:

I don't know or care. Sales numbers doesn't affect me, unless they're so bad that it affects the amount of games coming. I don't get any money or anything from Nintendo, Sony or MS so why would it matter absolutely anything to me if Nintendo wins or loses the next round in terms of sales.

warioswoods

#4

warioswoods said:

Let's hope they maintain the basic outline of the Wii's strategy and focus on creating entertainment with a wide, intuitive appeal that socially engages people to gather around the television.

Sure, improve the online and the graphical capabilities, but that shouldn't be primary. Nintendo does best when thinking outside the box, coming up with ideas that reflect its history as a toy company rather than a tech / media company.

Let the other 2 cover that ground. We need one company that does things differently, and that values local interactions over online, broad appeal over the typical gamer demographics, and childlike joy over violence.

Mandoble

#7

Mandoble said:

Considering that casual games are now almost monopolized by 3 gen phones/pads and that family games are now a main target of Microsoft, I pretty much doubt the new console will have any success close to the Wii. Said that I believe success of the Wii was based mainly in the fact that it was the cheapest home console in the market, which might not be the case with its replacement. But with the announcement of Nintendo profits going down as brutally as 66% the only option to survive was to release a Wii replacement ASAP, probably way earlier than originaly planned.

zionich

#9

zionich said:

Honestly, I dont think that the Wii 2 will do as good. The Wii did what they set out to do, get people that wouldnt normally play games to play games. Its hard to imagine that those non-gamers would go out and spend even more money on somthing they might rarley do.

The true test would be for Nintendo to win back the fans they lost to Sony and Microsoft, while trying to convince the generation of gamers that never played old Nintendo games that there Project Cafe', Stream, whatever is better than what they are currently using.

Even if Nintendo changes there stance on online support, the up hill battle is getting a gamer to jump ship when all thier friends might stick with PS360.

I love the Nintendo franchises, supported the Wii for what it is. The fact is, Nintendo has to appeal to the sport/fps online crowd in a more aggressive fassion to see the same sales as the Wii.

komicturtle

#12

komicturtle said:

Well, I do know it's still going to print money.

(If only my OWN consoles actually did that)

Hokori

#13

Hokori said:

Nintendo will at least sell 1 (me of course)
but I think if they launch it with 2 Wii Something's, Mario, Zelda, NMH 3, Pikmin 3, F-Zero, and a New series they will top it no doubt and having a couple of M games at launch will show the "Mature" players Nintendo is for everyone and not just little Kids. Maybe MW4 will launch with it, Never Mind I know were getting MW4 this year for sure :D

erv

#14

erv said:

I think the larger demographic is also the one hard to sell new games to, let alone a new console.

I'd say no in terms of meaningless statistics, but yes in terms of gaming reality.

Although the wii has been a wonderful ride.

theblackdragonAdmin

#15

theblackdragon said:

i really don't know. to be flat-out honest, there would have to be something absolutely, positively super-special-zomg-amazing coming out for the Wii2 in order for me to start saving up for one. I just don't play my Wii very much at all anymore (except for certain key titles)... i don't have the time to sit tethered to a television anymore.

between DS games, DSiWare, and now the 3DS, handheld gaming has pretty much become the norm for me. With the amount of solid, lengthy handheld titles that are out now and will (hopefully) be coming down the line, not to mention the rising prices of the consoles themselves and this crappy economy, I can see gamers making choices as opposed to just getting everything they want, and those who choose to go handheld will be lost Wii2 sales for Nintendo.
its their own fault for making so much awesome stuff, lol...

Terra

#16

Terra said:

If they bring us series like F-Zero, Star Fox and Custom Robo, alongside the usual suspects, then think it could top the Wii. The console itself could be magnificent but without the software to go with it, what good is it? An improved online service is also a must imo, as the Wii's has been rather poor at times

R-L-A-George

#18

R-L-A-George said:

Well, they made $25 controllers that connected like nun chuck to the motion controllers instead of making actual classic style controllers....They extremely limit the creativity with the WiiWare games. Some of the games that were meant for Xbox and PS3 released for it and were very poorly done....I would of love to be able to talk with the people I played with, it feels kind of confined at times..Though sometimes playing language can be read, XD I remember me and another Meta Knight teamed up(My parents rented it), particularly after I wiped out most of the players in one shot with not much effort, that was fun. So mostly, if they make the new console more gamer friendly and I know it would hold the interest of the families who got the Wii, so it might sell better than the Wii if they make it more gamer friendly and gaming company friendly.

kurtasbestos

#19

kurtasbestos said:

I have a hard time figuring out what people want out of games recently. It seems like they either want (1) the most amazing, hyper-realistic version of something they've already done a million times before, but only if the next installment will be even more amazing and even more hyper-realistic (I'm mostly thinking first-person shooters, sports games, and RPGs like Final Fantasy), or they want (2) something they can kill time with when facebook or whatever else on the internet isn't being entertaining enough for them. On top of that, they seem to be perfectly happy shelling out tons of money every year on new electronic devices that aren't much different than the ones they could probably use for years, simply because they want something NEW.

Right now, looking around on the internet for reactions to Nintendo's next system, it's almost like people are saying "I hate the Wii and this new system will turn out to be stupid no matter what but I need more information anyway because I want to be able to buy it so I can complain about it in more detail"... or something. A lot of people who want the Wii to be more than what it is sound like they should just buy a PS360 or a computer instead of spending their time complaining about irrelevant things. They're probably the same people who hear the rumored specs of Wii 2 Cafe and say "that's dumb because something more powerful will come out in the future." Well, duh.

I won't ever NEED new games, because I already have plenty of favorites to choose from that are just as fun to play now as when I first played them. There have been a ton of Wii and DS games that have been something new and interesting that aren't just rehashes of things I've played in the past, and I imagine Nintendo's next system will continue that trend, so I'm sure I'll eventually pick one up. I just hope the people who are never happy with anything can get over their insecurities and realize that they should be playing video games for the FUN of it. Isn't that what Wii was supposed to be about in the first place?

NintyMan

#21

NintyMan said:

The thing I would worry about concerning lots of people buying the new console is the price. $350 is pretty steep for a Nintendo console, so I hope they try to get it down as much as they can. As the article mentioned, they also need to make it convince people to upgrade. Give it a new way to play in the home, like Iwata said. With the Wii's huge numbers, it's unlikely it'll top its sales, but it could still do very well. As far as the whole "casual" and "hardcore" argument, I think the next console will be more "hardcore" now that Nintendo realizes how vocal their stalwart fans can be. I hope so anyway for both sides' sake.

taffy

#22

taffy said:

@theblackdragon:

I have to agree with you on this one. As much as I would like to spend time playing the likes of COD: BO and Goldeneye on my Wii, there are just not enough hours in the day for me, but I get my fix with a quick online game of SSFIV on my 3DS

Lotice-Paladin

#23

Lotice-Paladin said:

I'd wait and see how the 3DS does first before judging the next console release...then we can ask whether console gaming is worth it if the handheld market is becoming huge in Japan (and is respected in the west too).

As always, you have to look at the software before even buying the console...you don't want a limited library half way through the life like they did in the N64 era.

MasterGraveheart

#24

MasterGraveheart said:

Tackling each point, an updated motion controller system would be nice to have for alternative gaming. My main controller still needs to be a classic pad. And that touch screen that streams games? The one that's supposed to be around 6"? Awesome. Tablet form? Aweful. Keep it controller-esque in the spirit of the GameCube and add the screen in the middle or on top. Don't make it an iPad with buttons and joysticks. That'd be... terribly awkward. And the price? It CANNOT be over $400 after taxes ANYWHERE or you risk a slow start out of the gate.

Rapadash6

#25

Rapadash6 said:

Wii was a success for two reasons. First and formost it offered a new experience that, at first, could only be had on that system. Wii wasn't seen as the new Nintendo console, as most of us likely saw it, but more a new type of entertainment altogether that had little to do with what the previous gaming population valued about the hobby in the first place.

Second, the Wii was affordable enough to appeal to everyone looking for a solid experience with a budget. When the HD giants had $400 price tags on their consoles, the Wii stood out as being nearly half the cost, ready to go out of the box and different enough to quell the stigma previously assosiated with gaming.

With this successor on the way and based on the rumors I've heard thus far, I'd have to say that Nintendo has a steep hill to climb with this one. On one hand you have beefier hardware, screens in the controllers to stream data from the system and what seems to be a more solid online experience. This all sounds great for us old school Nintendo fans because, for us, it seems like a return to form. On the other hand, I'm having a hard time imagining my sisters rushing to the store to pick this up the way they did with the Wii, especially if it's in that $300 to $500 range many believe it will be in.

In the end, I can definately imagine with the right marketing, better support for third parties and more attention to gamers needs, Nintendo should do fine in garnering at least a large chunk of the core gaming market. Although I don't see people abandoning their PS3 or 360 versions of GTA and CoD to play it on Nintendo, the company does have a lot of exclusive franchises that could differentiate the system enough to find a fair share of multiple system owners. However, unless Nintendo has something hiding up it's sleeve for E3, I can't imagine the casual Wii fans clamouring for this new system.

Slapshot

#26

Slapshot said:

@wariowoods... Perfectly said - but, let me give you a different point of view as well.

Nintendo Wii had no competition! It was innovative, it had 'Wow' factor unlike any other console before it and it brought families together in a gaming environment. Before Wii Nintendo was struggling with the Gamecube, because the system had nothing that the other consoles didn't offer - except the AAA Nintendo titles, which were few and far between. Even though I adore the system for giving me 1080 and WaveRace Blue Storm games, the system wasn't a huge success like previous consoles.

Hardcore gamers, myself included, pushed the other consoles away for months as we bowled the nights away after the Wii released, but what was the biggest draw for many of us? Pointer Controls with the WiiMote for FPS titles!

Fast forward until today and PlayStation Move has bettered the WiiMote, and with titles like Killzone 3, SOCOM 4 and Resistance 3 on-board. Nintendo would be crazy to try to compete with Sony on the FPS front. I've played nearly every Wii FPS game with pointer controls, and put 20+ hours minimum in every FPS game available with PlayStation Move, and I can honestly say that the WiiMote has no comparison in FPS titles!

Kinect is the new 'Wow' factor in the world right now! Hands free Netflix, hands free Facebook, controller-less gaming. Microsoft is pulling in the casual market by the droves, and Apple is also doing the same thing as well.

Bottom of the line is this - Nintendo has serious competition this go around! They could better the graphics and improve the WiiMote but, could it suffer the same fate as the Gamecube? Will the Third Parties come back with quality content for the next home console?

My biggest concern is this, why is Nintendo already announcing this when 3DS has just released? Nintendo changed the face of gaming with Wii, and now they have to find a way to stay successful in the age they created.

Gamesake

#27

Gamesake said:

Ever since the early 90's I've always known Nintendo as the family-friendly console, the Wii didn't start that. For this Project Cafe to out sell the Wii it will have to find a way to bring back casual/non gamers. Otherwise it'll be a great machine that will share the fate of the GameCube.

1080ike

#28

1080ike said:

I don't know. Can it? At this point, it looks like it won't, especially considering the rumored $350 price tag, and the fact that the Wii launched at $250. If the hardcore games that Nintendo missed out on this generation are released for the next console (F-Zero, etc.), then probably. But that doesn't count the fact that Microsoft and Sony jumped on the bandwagon and are now selling similar titles to what Ninty was selling before, except with better quality motion controlling. Nintendo is going to need to come up with something good, fast.

Henmii

#29

Henmii said:

"Can Nintendo's Next Console Top Wii's Success?"

Hard to tell. Wii and DS big focus was casual/non gamers. But the last few years Nintendo is drifting a little more towards the traditional gamer. Think of Spirit tracks being harder then Phantom hourglass, A sequell to Sin and punishment, Last story is coming, Street fighter 4 on the 3DS, etc.

Now the big question is: Will this continue with the Stream, or will they go mainly for the traditional gamer this time. If they can release a very strong console earlier then the competition and snoop away all the good third-party'support, they may gain a big chunk of the traditional gamers market. But because of Nintendo's image over the years, there will also be many "traditionals" who say: "Nintendo sucks. I don't want to play on their consoles". And they will lose the casuals.

Personally, I hope that Nintendo sticks with the wiimote and improves it, that they release a very strong console before the competition, for a fair price (250 Euro's), that they secure all good third-party support. And they can keep the casual stuff too, since that's very profitable for them.

astarisborn94

#30

astarisborn94 said:

This is going to be very difficult to do, even if it betters SNES quality overall. Nintendo needs to pull out all the stops they can to appeal to both sides and do whatever they can to bring back the core gamers while preserving the casual gamers.

A difficult task to do, but it must be done to ensure that the next console will be successful.

aaronsullivan

#31

aaronsullivan said:

I'm very curious how Nintendo will approach the promotion of this new console. I do hope they find a way to make motion controlling and pointing more refined as I find that the potential there has never been met.

On the other, it doesn't seem to be going in that direction and the (rumored) promise of a screen on each controller is very tantalizing in a crazy Nintendo way. Not enough people have enjoyed the lunatic fun of Zelda Four Swords on the Gamecube. A couple games like that could really sell the console to hardcore gamers and casual gamers alike.

@2 Bad time to be a Sony supporter. Network down for days, personal account information completely stolen (still a possibility credit card info is safe). And it's still DOWN.

topnick12

#32

topnick12 said:

Im not sure Nintendo wants people to say "That price is too high for a Nintendo console". If Nintendo is using newer technology and is gonna top the PS3, it's going to be pricy. I rather pay more for a great console then pay less for a cheap piece of plastic "because it's a nintendo console". Im exciting for what they are going to announce at E3 :) haha sorry for my rant ;)

Squiggle55

#33

Squiggle55 said:

well i'll certainly get one no matter what they do. better graphics and a screen on the controller is all I need to know.

Pj1

#34

Pj1 said:

The success of the Wii was obvious, they made an unique games console that has got many people talking and playing the console. The major selling point for me was (is) the VC console and the motion controller, the Wii-2 (Stream) or whatever it's called will need to keep one feature of the oringnal Wii and that is to make it VC - SD card transferable and to always keep hold of the VC. Nintendo have trciks up their sleeves and they know what they are doing, they could re-release Mario World in hard copy form and it would sell big time. I'm looking forward to E3 but there is no way Nintendo will lauch the successor to the Wii this year, they need the 3DS to do well first and the Wii is still selling. I'm waiting for the E3 announcements......

Omenapoika

#35

Omenapoika said:

The Wii's lifespan is said to be coming to it's close soon, so I can reflect to the fun I had with it. No lies told, I played 2/3rds of playtime with virtual console titles. Wii was a very flexible platform, in the sense that there were such a variable fleet of games around it. SSBB, Galaxies, Twilight Princess and the Metroid games were my best experiences with Wii games (as you would expect). So, to please me these things are easily achieved for a new console Nintendo could offer.

Another thing I've been thinking, is being too flexible as a platform. The dev's are not pushed to the limits (as they were in the 90's when the Gameboy was 8 bit, and with 20 years of 8 bit code around, the games get stupendously genius). The DS has seen a glimpse of this level of hardware use. But new consoles are harder to grasp and too big to explore for developers. I could say that the gaming industry is like a crowded Café where the waiters run and serve your delicious cakes with spilled coffee and smeared creme.
Or, this effect could have reached me because so many developers did half-assed games to jump in for the Wii's money-rodeo.

Bottom line: Pokemon Red and Blue. I've played the game recently, and seen how Game freak had so many ideas they wanted to implement into the game, many of them fresh for it's time. The gameboy was such a limited platform, that they had many ideas limited to simple lines that npc's say, but this gives the game an all important angle of depth which sets it apart from it's descendants. (I have to give a nostalgia warning, but back then, Pokemon did not have the expectations on it and the limits were to be made). As you see pokemon now, it sells like a monkey whose stocks are going down. The hardware is good and powerful, but they make the same game and blend it with safety and consumer expectations.
They can't take use of the hardware because the ideas were made for an 8 bit console! And this is what my whole post has been about. You can make an awesome game of rocks and paper if you need to. If you are given the contents of Charlie's chocolate factory with an army of oompaloompas, it's easy to impress the consumers and sell your products, even if the ideas are something you would think up while making the phone call to tell your idea.
The cultural impact can now be seen from many games of the recent past, and that is a good measure of real value to be had in new software.

JimLad

#36

JimLad said:

If they can create a killer app to top Wii Sports (the killer app to end all killer apps) then it's possible providing they don't over charge for the console.

WWammy

#37

WWammy said:

@topnick12 In doubt the price will be too high the PS3 and Xbox are old hat now at around 5 years old technology prices have come way down .
Microsofts Arcade console is selling at £149.99 new which says a lot about pricing for Nintendos new console as I doubt even if it's more powerful than the PS3 would be that much more powerful and Nintendo would choose cost effective components rather than say a Bluray player and Cell processor which drove the cost of the PS3 up.
It would still leave quite a few years to compete with the current gen consoles and it seems Nintendo has carved out their own timescale for new console releases which aren't really inline with the others

GamersCorner

#38

GamersCorner said:

The thing that worries me about Nintendo's next console is that it could be coming out too soon. I feel like it's only in the last year or two that people have really latched onto this generation of console and they may not be looking to fork out another $300 or $400 in 2012 when they already have multiple consoles in their house.

In this current economy it's something of a risky move. I know personally it'll take some convincing for me to buy the system after the lack of quality games on the Wii.

rwq

#40

rwq said:

+1 wariowoods

The worst thing they can do right now is try to mimic the xbox or the playstation. I have high hopes tho! Don't let me down N!

motang

#41

motang said:

I do hope they would go back to their roots with Project Cafe, I don't mind these casual games, they can be done, but I want more core Nintendo games that I love. Nintendo is big enough to have both, and they should.

1080ike

#42

1080ike said:

Sony's also awaiting Nintendo's return call on Wii 2's specs so they can denegrate the tech, then copy it in 2015.

Molotov

#44

Molotov said:

As Long as it can do everything the PS3 can do and takes the initiative XBOX 360 Style While Keeping The Wii Format... Why Not?

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