Video game consoles as media centers are a failed strategy

Wii winsInformation Arbitrage has a few questions this morning:

The runaway success of the Wii, the introduction of AppleTV and the problems encountered by both Microsoft and Sony raises more than a few questions:

  1. Does the grand “media center” vision really have legs?
  2. Are the high-priced Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles viewed as inaccessible by the casual gamer?
  3. Can you get to 100 million in console sales without the casual gamer?
  4. Does the casual gamer value the added features and functionality of the Microsoft and Sony consoles?
  5. Will the Nintendo beach head with both the DS and the Wii keep it ahead of the pack for the next few generations as it innovates over an increasingly large installed base?

Roger Ehrenberg, the author of Information Arbitrage, then goes on to detail the utter failure of the PSX, which no one played or wanted, and the PS3, which no one plays or wants. It leads to the question: Do the majority of gamers really care about huge hard drives and “extra features?” My answer, obvious to you if you’ve read me in the past, is no.

Hard-core gamers seem willing to pay for the high-end graphics and extra functionality, but what about the casual gamer? They seem to be much more in tune with the features, functionality, usability – and price – of the Wii. Nintendo has clearly struck a chord with the everyman, someone who just wants to step to the plate, bowl a game, smash that serve or share with their friends. Nintendo is about accessibility, ease of use, value and fun. Theirs is not a holy war against a competitor, but a quest for understanding and acceptance from their market. THE market. The market where you can sell 100 million consoles. The market that provides you with the foundation to layer on additional features as technology costs continue to drop and even more games are developed for the platform. Microsoft and Sony are battling it out in the trenches. Nintendo isn’t playing their game. Interestingly enough, they are clearly winning. Just look at the stock price.

“Hardcore gaming” is destroying my video game experience. I want it back. That’s why I root for Nintendo, as silly as that sounds. I’m totally softcore.

[Thanks, Robert]