April 5, 2009 // 9:29 pm
- In the dark days of the GameCube, amidst Internet rumblings of Nintendo going third-party, a little white box was being secretly developed in the inner sanctums of Nintendo.
Having already launched the strange yet undeniably appealing DS, this new console had a working codename of Revolution.
Nintendo dropped that moniker for the more market-friendly and more perverse title of the Nintendo Wii. Revolutions were scary they said, revolutions were about bloodshed, terrorist organizations and babies crying. Nintendo just wanted everyone to play.
Controllers are scary, like the cockpit of a flaming 747. People just want to throw around their television remotes and Nintendo happily provided.
In Apple fuelled haze, Nintendo went on a marketing blitz and began to do something they haven't done since the era of Super Nintendo; they ran commercials that targeted everyone including your dear old Grand Pappy.
Gimmicky as the Wiimote may seem in retrospect, Nintendo grabbed the attention of the media and consumer wallets with its technology and Wii Sports. Not since the SNES has a system been so ready to play out of the box. It's that type of mass market acceptance that the other game companies would love to have.
On the outside to the hardcore set, it seems like Nintendo served up an underpowered console with a unique input device; however, Nintendo did more than that: they inverted the typical market scheme for video games.
Nintendo made money on the console from the first day it launched. Gone was the razor blade marketing, loss leading tactics that Microsoft and Sony and most previous consoles used to make money. Get the player to buy the hardware and make your money back on licensing and games sales.
With over 48 million consoles sold, maybe the Wii is the unheralded revolution in gaming. If it isn't, it very least is a huge financial success. Maybe it is too early to speculate about the next generation of gaming but you have to wonder if the Wii has started a trend that Microsoft and the Sony brands might try to follow in the years to come.
It has already been widely speculated that both Microsoft has Wii-like controllers in the works. MTV news reported that Microsoft has teamed with mouse maker Gyration to produce a motion controller code-named "Newton."
However, the issue extends far beyond waggle controllers. What if Sony and Microsoft decide to produce a new generation of consoles that have little or no graphical improvement than the current generations? What if they opt rather to explore new input devices?
Perhaps the next big thing won't be a major jump in movie realism and 7.1 Dolby Digital sound, but rather it'll be what type of 3D glasses the major companies are packing in with their game consoles.