Did Nintendo make things weird?

Infendo

“What a weird era of gaming we’ve entered.”

So begins IGN’s Mark Ryan’s latest blog entry. The post itself looks at how things have changed in this current generation of video gaming, all thanks to Nintendo. The same Nintendo that was once huffing and puffing in third place to the well-oiled Sony PlayStation mega-machine brand and slick newcomer Xbox is now defining what the word success means for the industry.

The Wii, to date, has been a literal coup d’etat for the gaming. Ryan calls it weird but I, and a few others like the now defunct Wiikly, always called what they were doing a different word: disruptive. As a console maker today, you simply cannot compete with what Nintendo is trying to achieve with the Wii. And that’s not my arrogance talking (much), it’s just common sense. It’s like a blender trying to compete with an airplane. Doesn’t make any sense, does it? I say “trying to achieve,” of course, because we’re four months into a 5-year cycle. Anything can happen, and probably will, but the signs and portents out there today are starting to line up into the shape of a very large — and very lucrative — Blue Ocean.

Perhaps Ryan’s overall point though is how Nintendo’s success with the low-tech, “waggle” wanded Wii will impact third party developers that have made their bread and butter with the “techno-epic” (which he defines as Devil May Cry, what Final Fantasy has become, etc). My answer? Good riddance. If the Wii is a gateway for indie developers to stretch their innovative little legs and create cheap, fun and thought provoking games, then the demise of these lumbering behemoths and their greedy publishers can’t come soon enough. People got too comfortable with these “techno-epics” and now we’re paying top dollar for titles that have a “3” or “4” after their titles and offer us gorgeous cut scene fluff and bad voice acting.

Eventually, if the Wii makes it to 10, 15, even 20 million consoles sold, you’ll start to see the “techno-epic” die off as developers and their publishers do what any sane business does — goes where the money is (you’ve already seen this with Devil May Cry 4 going 360). Sure, these graphics-over-gameplay epics will still exist, but they’ll be dual platform fare that launch on the same day for both the 360 and the PS3. I think that’s probably something Nintendo can live with, quite comfortably.