BusinessWeek: Wii will win; control and development costs seal it

Today BusinessWeek won a new subscriber, me. Their recap of what’s coming down the pipeline from Nintendo in the coming months is well-written, factual and above all, says this:

“The battle of the gaming consoles will commence in November, when Nintendo launches the Wii and Sony its PlayStation 3. The contest will pit two competing ideas about the future of the $30 billion video game market against each other. But industry execs and analysts are already calling a winner: Nintendo’s Wii (pronounced Wee).”

But it doesn’t end there. The article by Kenji Hall also delves deep into the bowels of Nintendo’s development process (Iwata: The new console must be able to play every Nintendo game made over the past two decades), and that fateful day in late 2005 when Sega was given a secretive sneak peak of the system — and then immediately signed up for a Sonic and a Monkey Ball title. Ubisoft followed, and actually built walls in its France studio to keep things quiet.

“Says Xavier Poix, head of Ubisoft’s Paris and Montpellier studios, ‘In our Paris studio, Ubisoft built new walls.’ None of the developers seemed to mind that the Wii was no supercomputer. In fact, that made it cheaper to program games for the console. ‘It’s not unusual for games to have $15 to $20 million development budgets,’ says Sega’s Simon Jeffrey. ‘The Wii’s games cost less than half that.”

The article concludes with the obvious; that the Wii will probably not woo the hardcore gamers away from Xbox 360’s Live service, or from PS3’s hardware specs and horsepower. That’s fine by me, because that’s been Nintendo’s plan all along.