The Nintendo Wii, the innovative videogame console with the motion-sensitive controller, will pass 50 million worldwide sales by the end of March, Variety reports. The Wii has reached this milestone in just 28 months — eight months quicker than Sony’s PlayStation 2 did.
This leaves me with one question: Why? Why has the Wii flourished beyond everyone’s wildest expectations? It’s truly a David vs. Goliath outcome, with the little, inexpensive, and inelegant Wii triumphing over Microsoft and Sony’s we-will-crush-you-with-our-mighty-computing-prowess Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 systems. Clearly, the appeal of the Wii is in its intuitive controller, which allows everyone from 4 year olds to 70 year olds to play without having to worry about executing 25-button combos. A crudely made game such as Wii Sports is nevertheless enjoyable because it feels so natural and rewarding, as if you were actually swinging a tennis racket or golf club.
But there’s one anomaly in the Wii’s success: its games. Simply put, the Wii is lacking in high-quality software. At Metacritic, a site that compiles videogame reviews and spits out an overall score, the Wii has just eight titles with a score of 90 or higher. By comparison, the Xbox 360 has 21 games. Over the past few months, 360 and PS3 owners have been treated to a flurry of critically acclaimed games: Resident Evil 5, MLB 09, Killzone 2, Street Fighter IV, Halo Wars, etc. But the Wii’s only noteworthy release of late seems to be the ultra-violent MadWorld.
I’m not trying to slam the Wii. Rather, I’m suggesting that the Wii represents a shift in the videogaming paradigm. A system’s raw graphical power used to be its selling point; you bought a Nintendo 64 because, OMG, Mario was in three freaking dimensions! But the Wii doesn’t hold a candle to the computational abilities of the PS3 and Xbox 360. Instead, the Wii showcases an all-too-overlooked quality: ingenuity. How appropriate that in these economically desolate times, the videogame king would be the system that shook things up (and did so for an affordable price). It may not be pretty, and it may have its hiccups, but the Wii ultimately deserves its throne — at least for now.
PopWatchers, how do you feel about the Wii passing 50 million sales? Did Nintendo know exactly what it was doing, or was the Wii’s success sheer luck? And which system would you want to be stuck with on a deserted island?