Saturday, June 18, 2011

Will You Wii U? Some Hardcores Might, I Probably Won't

First of all, let me say this could be one of the only "by-request" posts I've ever done, especially outside the wife-requested genre.

Next, let me disclose that the F-Word will likely chafe at anything I have to say in this post, as he revoked my video game man card many moons ago.  Rest assured, my head is still hanging in shame.

Now, to the subject at hand:  The Wii U.  Announced to hit the masses next year, the Wii's successor will arrive roughly six years after the original wooed the non-gaming public back in 2006.

Sorry, I failed to find a cool shot of the Wii U stacked on top of its predecessors.
On second thought, I'm unsure the ancestors would have the bulk to support it . . .

While I'm in disclosure mode, let me also confess that the extent of my knowledge on the Wii U extends basically to its Wikipedia page (that heavenly haven of all knowledge) and maybe one half an article from a usually computer tech site (I think it was CNET).

How large do the casual gamers loom?
My gut reaction on this one is that Nintendo's aiming to chip away at (or destroy) its casual/child gamer image.  While many have long caricatured the Nintendo gaming experience as built for children (Mario, Zelda, etc., seem much more child friendly than Grand Theft Auto, Halo, or Resident Evil), the Wii magnified this pronouncement to the nth degree:  Nintendo marketed, and people accepted, the Wii as the we device -- which is to say everyone can and will want to play it, rather than just the 30-something vampires, existing in their parents'/grandparents' basement.  While my general observation is that a lot of people enjoy playing the Wii, I imagine most of the casual Wii gamers were, and are, well, casual.  Nintendo, like MS, Sony, or any game company, is in it to win it, which is to say, make $.  Let's do the familiar Parreto analysis:  If just 20% of our customers actually buy 80% of our games (in terms of count sold), we just might want to please that lot most.  So who is this mythical 20%?  The hardcores (maligned above as parasitic vampires).

How does Nintendo lure back the hardcores?

What have hardcore gamers been screaming for ever since the Xbox and PlayStation 2 emerged from the labs?  To my knowledge, hardcore graphics, hardcore games, and hardcore everything.  Yes, I'm amused with how vague that proclamation sounds, myself.  On the other hand, I think it fits the mold of escaping the Wii's casual (non-hardcore) image.

Vg icon.svg
Get it, hardcore?  Thanks, Wikipedia!
HARDCORE:  Just looking at the machine (the Wii U), I think to myself:  Is this an Xbox 360 in Nintendo's clothing?  Will the new Jumbo-large controller play Halo 3000, in addition to Mario and Zelda?  With HD rendering and a newfangled controller, I assume Nintendo's gunning hardcore to get its core users back, who are always the hardcores (or lure some away from MS and Sony).

FAMILIAR:  As I heard about the new name, I asked myself, "Wii U"?  Based on what I've seen, my assumption is that Nintendo's trying to toe the line of keeping the "casual" gamers in tow ("Seriously, folks, it's still a console grandma and grandpa can enjoy, it's still a Wii!"), while tantalizing the hardcore.  Nintendo appears to have some success in store from the casual, thanks to its Wii-backward compatibility.  On the other hand, why just back to the Wii, rather than the Cube, as well?  Maybe the assumption here is that too few casual gamers have Cube memorabilia and too few hardcores would care enough to play Cube games, anyway.

SUCCESS?  While I'll leave a detailed analysis of the Wii U's detailed specs and chances at financial success, I'll give it a moderate shot of winning back (or gaining) some of the hardcore gamers, while likely keeping on board any casual gamers who actually care enough to plunk down the $ for another system.  I think much will depend on the $ tag and how the iPad, er, new controller sits with the masses.

PERSONAL REACTION:  While I've long been a Nintendo "fanboy," I've also long since been dead to video game counsels and, pretty much, gaming in general.  I imagine my current personal preference is  demonstrated by the image at the top of this blog, along with its (the blog's) regular content.  So what's my BOLD, F-WORD STYLE PREDICTION?  THIS IS THE LAST REASONABLY SUCCESSFUL CONSOLE GENERATION AND ALL PREDECESSORS WILL RUN OUT OF THE CLOUD.  See this article on how cloud computing is starting to throttle the console market, thanks to higher internet speeds, enhanced capability via HTML5, etc., and which more or less summarizes my newspaper-destiny forecast of the console market.
The future of gaming.
I hope you enjoyed this CA production.  Please vent any outrage or smug agreement in the comments section, below. Thanks.


Casey Deans said...

I really enjoyed reading this post and I really think that you are a talented writer. I am a "hardcore" but I prefer the spelling: hardcorps. I think that Nintendo is always good at being different and in the past different was good. However, in the past, Nintendo was far cheaper than the competition. The justification for buying a PS2 and PS3 was that they played the latest video tech (DVD then and Blu-ray now). XBOX had Halo and to some (including myself) that is all that mattered. Wii U won't even play DVD's and the controller is not a portable gaming device because it will not work outside the range of the console. If the Wii U is as expensive as the competition then it will be difficult to justify because XBOX 360 does Netflix and PS3 is the best Blu-ray player out there. With TV's becoming Smart TV (TV's with internet) as rapidly as Mobile Phones became Smart Mobile Phones it is hard to justify a machine that just plays games. Of course those "games" are amazing e.g. Zelda, Mario, Smash, and Metroid. I think that you are correct in stating that all gaming (all things digital in my opinion) are going to the cloud. The PSP Go didn't offer any type of retail disc or cartridge. PS3 offers cloud storage of games, game saves, and video. XBOX 360 and PS3 offer all their games via cloud eventually. Game makers profit much more off of DLC which is entering an interesting stage of "retailer exclusive" business practices which is angering some consumers. These events all indicate that the cloud is the future. I think that Nintendo should have been WAY different and said, "Our next console is....NO console, we are just going to make games." This is all that they have going for them in my opinion because Kinect is the future. Soon, computers and video games will be a screen and you. Voice and motion will be all people need to interact with computers and consoles. I also wish Nintendo would have gone to just making games like Sega even though they would make a lot less money but because then you could have a truly EPIC Smash Bros type game where Master Chief (the guy from HALO for those non-card carriers) vs. Link vs. Ratchet and Clank (or Cole from Infamous). I would like to see a post in the future about how you feel about video games as a father and whether or not your daughter will be getting a Wii U or something down the road and what age (if any) you think the age is to introduce video games.

Cougar Abogado said...

Well, sir, I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I appreciate your compliments.

I definitely hear you on the Nintendo price point, and from what I've read, it seems like someone in Nintendo realized(es) that it would do well to keep the price down.

I also hear you on the "NO console" concept. After all, Nintendo mainly seems to, forgive me, rehash greats (that I greatly enjoy) like Zelda, Mario, Metroid, etc., which I imagine could relatively easily be rolled out in installments, much like MMPORPGs such as World of Warcraft.

I'm definitely curious to see how the Wii U ends up and how it's received.

I'm glad you asked the question about when and if I will introduce video games to my daughter and when I would suggest it for children, in general. To be short in writing, I'm going to duck answering the question specifically and simply say I feel it depends on the parents and children in question: There are many games which can inspire and edify, while I believe there are many games which can sap our energy and deaden our spirit. I also think my principal concern for my children will be how much time they invest in gaming and how much violence/immorality a particular game has. Regarding your inquiry, I will say this: I'm struggling to see a time in the near future when I'll be purchasing a Wii U or similar console. On the other hand, I expect a full, hardcorps, hands-on review from the F-Word (or you, sir).

Fletch said...

I'm just not digging it. Maybe I'm too old. If want to go play all the crazy new stuff, I'll just get one of those machines. Nintendo hit a home run before with the Wii and just needs to make it better and more innovative. If it aint broke why try to fix it?

Cougar Abogado said...

My understanding is that peeps will still be able to play with the Wii-troller. Do you feel like the newfangled controller ruins or diminishes this aspect?

Christy said...

I trust your opinion.

Cougar Abogado said...

You trust my opinion??

Christy said...

Yes, you are right and I trust you.

Cougar Abogado said...