is it too early?
November 18, 2006
Is it too early to proclaim the doom of the Nintendo Wii? Probably, but when has that ever stopped anyone (least of all me)? Yes, the Wii has a huge battle to win if it is to garner even a fraction of the market in the next-generation console wars. Let’s look at a few of the reasons for this:
- Microsoft is now turning a profit on each Xbox 360 sold, negating Nintendo’s supposed advantage in that area, and with standout titles like Gears of War, it stands to sell at least three bazillion units this holiday season.
- Early reviews of Wii launch titles Zelda: Twilight Princess and Red Steel say that the console is promising in the gameplay department but only slightly better than last-gen consoles in terms of graphics (“nowhere near the latest Xbox 360 releases,” says one). Noting that Zelda is also available on the GameCube, is the “Wii Remote” really compelling enough to justify a $250 upgrade? Graphics may be superficial in the end, but it is difficult to see the merit in buying a new console to play games that could have been done just as well on older hardware. So, the console boils down to the Wii Remote, innovative uses of which are few to be seen at this point in time–can I call it gimmicky?
- The Wii’s lack of any sort of disc-based movie playback is also disappointing, especially considering that Blu-ray comes standard on the PS3 and that Microsoft has just announced a stellar upgrade to the X360 in the form of a $200 HD-DVD drive. This forces us to judge the Wii solely on the merits of the gameplay it can deliver, whereas both Sony and Microsoft have embraced their products as broad platforms for digital media playback and storage. And yes, I am fully aware of Nintendo’s stated goal of attracting more “casual” consumers to their products; I am still waiting to be convinced of that plan’s efficacy
- A potentially interesting feature allowing the purchase and download of “classic” games from Nintendo’s previous consoles is also lackluster: only 12 games are available at launch, with a total of 30 expected by year’s end. Out f a library of hundreds (thousands?) of titles, this a weak showing.
- Assuming that Sony can manage to drive down its component costs to a more reasonable level–the company is losing more than $300 for each 20GB PS3 sold–and ramp up production, the PS3 could easily emerge as the dominant force in the market, especially if analyst projections are even close to accurate (remember, the PS2 was, far and away, the winner of the last round). That is, once the insanities surrounding launch day diminish to a more reasonable level.
But don’t let that stop you. The Wii cometh nonetheless.
–D. S. W.