This might come as a surprise, but we here at vagary.tv are not really in the position to get a giant scoop on the next hot thing from Nintendo (yet). However, what we are adept at, is giving ideas and feedback to an idea, proposing theories and just all around down to earth views on the gaming industry. That being said, I have a rather unusual prediction for the Wii brand.
First, to cover what is coming out of seemingly every corner of the gaming news arena. Game Informer first broke the news a few days ago, citing it’s HD capabilities (duh). Then the floodgates broke open, sources like IGN, Kotaku, CVG and some French website called 01net , all started giving their two cents in. Rumors from a traditional controller with an enormous touchscreen on it, to being considerably more powerful than current-gen systems and even the codename “Project Cafe” popped up! Obviously all these sources had heard their own tidbits about the new console but had held their tongue up to this point for fear of being the first to break news that Nintendo might hold a grudge against them for. But as we all know, once someone else breaks the rules it is all fair game from that point on.
There are a few fascinating things I would really like to cover here. First is a clear breakdown of what Nintendo needs to do in order for this to succeed.
To me, this is surprisingly simple. I’m not going to say Nintendo needs to get all hardcore with their games and start making new hardcore properties (which would be nice), but rather that all they need is to re-secure their home console on the cross-platform circuit. There are countless games that are now cross-platform that they could capitalize on. There are fewer and fewer console exclusive games with each generation, and even the most sacred properties are now fleeing their traditional homes. If Nintendo can simply capture this, in addition to their prized IP’s, then they will be golden. Of course, things like online infrastructure, and social aspects will be crucial, but not nearly as much as third-party support. I honestly do not see it being too difficult to pull this task off anyway, developers love getting their hands on new hardware, unless of course that hardware happens to be “two Gamecubes taped together”. The real failure of the Wii was not the lack of power. The problem was the lack of being on par with other consoles so games could be easily co-developed alongside their 360 and PS3 counterparts. Of course, this is a direct result from the lack of power, but still, the effect is indirect.
I do want to take this time to point out that a few months ago on the podcast I co-host (the n00bketeers), I said that I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo planned on making the Wii slightly underpowered on purpose to gain casual players. While, at the same time, the other consoles were planning a longer console life of up to ten years. Nintendo could then leapfrog five years later (aka, now) the other consoles with something more powerful, have the top-dog position for at least a few years and at the same time be competitively priced relative to everything else. A hugely risky yet brilliant move, but here is my problem, Nintendo is not going to just ignore the casual gamers they spent the last 5 years roping in.
This leads to my most radical statement. When I wrote Wii 2 thoughts as the title, I was not referring to the console we are all hearing about today. While reading some thoughts by the IGN editors on the new console codename, Peer Schneider (IGN’s SVP) made the statement that this could be Nintendo’s new third pillar! A strategy some long-time Nintendo fans will remember from the days of transitioning from the GBA to the DS. Of course, they certainly did not seem committed to the idea for very long, but I propose it didn’t work out because both of those consoles played into the same market at the time.
In reality, the Wii was still an attempt at the three-pillar strategy, DS for the handheld gamers, the Wii for the casual gamer, and the Wii for the hardcore. They tried consolidating the market with the Wii; and it didn’t work! So this entire article is in anticipation of the statement that I would bet that Nintendo now tries to keep the Wii brand separate from the console they are about to announce. Even to the point of releasing a Wii 2 maybe even sometime next year and marketing it specifically towards the young and casual audience. Still motion based, still cheap, still Wii.
Why try to balance on a tight rope when you can just walk across two completely separate planks. If PC manufactures can have a netbook for casual people who want to play solitaire and surf TMZ, and simultaneously have a war machine built for dominating alien species with your almighty gunships, then why can’t Nintendo?