Commonplace criticisms of Wii, Nintendo begin to fade

250_nintendo-mario.jpgRemember that damning New York Times piece about Wii, low attach rates and how the system is anathema to “hardcore gamers?”

It’s been pretty much summarily attacked all week long as an example of poor reporting (believe me, I can relate), but this article from Ars Technica–and a response from VGChartz, from which the NYT compiled its data–pretty much smothered the article’s weakened husk as it slept.

We’ll take the misinformation in chunks. First, the attach rates. Traditionally, the media and the gaming community has associated an attach rate stigma of sorts with the Wii. The NYT article used this as one of the main foundations for its anti-Wii, desperate for controversy piece, but today the source of the information, VGChartz, says the analysis was bunk. Basically, VGChartz calls NYT out for not including Japan or Europe in its analysis. Rookie mistake for a senior publication, but perhaps it was a slow news day and the reporter in question needed to get something filed.

Back to the ars technica article on this point. According to Nintendo’s internal data, each Wii owner has purchased 6.07 games since launch. Ars correctly notes that this is a figure that’s in line with the competition (in fact, it’s one of the few positive notes Microsoft can still claim when spinning quarterly reports). “The US audience is even hungrier for Wii games, as the attach rates for systems in America is 7.48 games per system,” reports ars.

But they’re all Nintendo first party titles, right? Well, you’d be half right if you stormed over the NeoGAF forums to bash the Wii. There are in fact several third party titles that have sold over a million units each. These include several well-known titles, like Guitar Hero III, Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, Carnival Games, Rayman Raving Rabbids and Red Steel.

So what’s left? Not much, really, especially with this week’s Majesco revelation. Even Friend Codes appear to have lost a little bit of the black mark that gaming aficionados assigned them early on. As it has always been and always will be, those who are proactive in looking for alternatives, and approach things like Friend Codes as a challenge, and not an excuse to complain, are being rewarded. It would appear as though Friend Code workarounds were always there, but developers and publishers were either too lazy, or too dismissive of the console, to see the forest through the trees. Harmonix, Rock Band, I’m looking at you right now as a poster child for this laziness and carelessness. It’s too bad, because you were first to the party, but today, with the potential for Guitar Hero instruments on the horizon, I am firmly in that camp when it comes time to open the wallet.

Ars technica sums up the non-news regarding Nintendo this week succinctly and with a calming finality, in my opinion. Writes Ben Kuchera, “The arguments against the Wii’s apparent success’that players aren’t using it after it’s purchased, that game sales are low, and that it’s a fad’are starting to ring hollow, and the latest data from Nintendo should go a long way towards silencing the critics. While developers are struggling to understand the Wii, trying to figure out how to deal with its prominence in gaming, or simply slamming it to the press, one thing is apparent: gamers know exactly what to do with the console.”