The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

July 13, 2007

Console Check-Up: Nintendo

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , , — Brian Lutz @ 1:17 am

(Note:  This is the second of three posts intended to follow up on a set of predictions I made for the future of the three participants in the Console Wars back in October, before the Wii and the Playstation 3 were launched.  For further explanation and an analysis of the current status of the Xbox360, please see the previous post.  I will conclude this with a post on Sony within the next day or two.) 

Back when I made the original predictions I am basing this on (if you read the last post, you probably already read this,) I stated that Nintendo seemed to be the wildcard among the big three in the current console war.  Three years ago, the Gamecube had fallen well behind the competition, and Sony was threatening Nintendo’s largely uncontested leadership in the handheld market with the PSP.  In response to the threat of the PSP came the Nintendo DS.  Although largely dismissed by gamers as a gimmick before it was released (I was among the skeptics,) the combination of imaginative uses of the integrated touchscreen, combined with a solid lineup of first and third party titles ultimately served to convince me to buy one.  I now own two (an original and a Lite) and I have more games for my DS than for any of the other systems I have currently.  The DS wouldn’t see its greatest success until the introduction of non-traditional game titles like Nintendogs and Brain Age, which have sold millions in Japan, and continue to make the DS the best selling gaming device on the market by far.

To a large extent, it was because of the DS and its success with expanding the audience beyond the standard gaming demographics that I was interested by the Nintendo Revolution, which was ultimately renamed to the Wii. Even before the Wii’s unusual control scheme had been unveiled, Nintendo was making it clear that they did not intend to compete directly with Sony and Microsoft.  Given their lackluster showing in the past two generations from attempting to do just this, I can’t say I blame them.  Instead of trying to compete in the ongoing arms race between Sony and Microsoft,. they instead planned to build a less powerful but more affordable system, and rely on the non-traditional audiences that the DS has captured to sell the system.  At the time I wrote my initial predictions, I said that the Wii could either sell half as many or twice as many systems as the competition.  It has been clear from the start that the Wii was a gamble.  Has the gamble paid off?

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