Bill Harris of Dubious Quality wrote a nifty piece on the success (and somewhat failure) of the Nintendo Wii, and how analysts seem to be incorrect about how that plays out. He is largely correct, but I felt the need to respond to him in an email. Here’s what I wrote:
I do think that the analysts are reacting to the present comments made by Nintendo about their new system. Apparently, if you read several of the prominent gaming sites (Kotaku, The Escapist, E3 news), Nintendo has announced that their new console machine “will be comparable – if not superior – to the recent consoles out for Microsoft and Sony.” They also mentioned that the price will be somewhat higher than their usual fare – somewhere in the $400 region.
I have one friend who works at Nintendo. His lips have been sealed up until lately, and he said that the next gen is something way different than what they normally release for a console. He hasn’t seen the actual unit, or any true schematics, but he has heard that the controllers are similar to the PS3’s with touchscreen tech, and the box has a chip and memory similiar to the XBox. And it will be HD compatible.
I asked him why Nintendo was going this route, if he had heard anything about it. He said that he didn’t have that information, but if he had to go by what information he did have, it was that while the console did well, and Nintendo produced games did fine, the independent games (3rd Party) did not do well. And that caused them to complain to Nintendo. Nintendo took their complaints seriously, and really wants to expand their market to include more outside produced games – such as (and this surprised me and may make you want to retch) Call of Duty: Black Ops and Battlefield 3. They felt their lack of First Person Shooters was part of the diminishing market for the Wii, since FPS are the next big thing.
I’m slightly disappointed that the present console makers (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo) like to super focus on certain gaming trends. I mean, the First Person Shooter trend doesn’t mean that other trends can’t become huge if the market allows it. But the developers seem to think that they must try to hightlight the trend to the exclusion of other types of games. I fear for the strategy game genre, mostly because so many people are stuck on playing the next biggest, shiniest, tech-laden, expansive FPS game. I realize it has a lot to do with the fact that it appears easier to play FPS multiplayer, but I think that’s going to hurt the console gaming market. Many people I know are going back to the PC to play games, because the consoles are so limiting and the developers are ignoring the other genres.
My point was that I believe that console developers (Nintendo included) are responsible for the bad analysis of the console markets. Mostly because they have HUGE PR machines that work on skewing numbers and warping perceptions. It’s hard to get a full lock on who is doing what and how well they are doing it when the competitors are fighting every estimate and statement made by outside observers. It’s ridiculous, really.
I’m sure you can figure out who my friend at Nintendo is (*cough*Zach Stroum*cough*). I have this … feeling … that consoles are going to fall out of style due to the regrowth of the PC gaming market. People are tired of gaming limitations imposed by hardware and stubborness of the console developers. The PC market is geared towards every genre, and that means all sorts of gamers will flock there when the core of console gaming is stuck in the FPS/Diablo-style rut.