Wii is just a “novelty device”

wii456This past weeks “big” marketing subject was concerning declining sales and usage of the Wii in Japan. Famitsu publisher, Hirokazu Hamamura released data (taken from a Famitsu survey) that shows 67% of Japanese Wii owners hardly play the system anymore. Don Reisinger of Cnet tech specialists recently blogged his latest rant on the state of low Wii usage in Japan.

….But besides my own preferences, I can’t help but think that the Wii is in trouble. Sure, some go out and tell us about the Wii sales figures, but there are no figures showing us that people actually play Wii games. Worse, Wii video game sales barely scratch the top ten when matched with titles from Microsoft or Sony — another dust competitor.

Could it be that the Wii is nothing more than a novelty? That, regardless of impending Mario game releases, the Wii will enter the boring bin before you know it? Do video game consumers really want to wave their hands around to control something on the screen?

At this point, it may be time for Nintendo to get its head out of the sky and realize its previously infallible device is in danger.

The Wii, once so strong and easily the most dominant console in the industry, is in trouble for the first time. With few captivating games besides the release titles, the Wii has been exposed as a fun device that has yet to fulfill its promise of revolutionizing gaming.

I’ve often heard of the idea that the Wii is perfect for parties. And while I can somewhat understand the justification for such a statement — it’s a great multiplayer platform — I’ve yet to see one played.

Now, before Nintendo zealots rise up and attempt to pick apart my argument that the Wii is in trouble, hear me out: with a study saying 67 percent of people don’t play the Wii, how important are sales? To Nintendo, hardware sales mean almost everything — the more people buy, the higher its revenue rises, the better it looks to shareholders.

But what some don’t realize is Nintendo is reliant upon software developers too. With licensing fees on the rise, Nintendo stands to make quite a bit of money if it can coax developers to make games for the console. But when just 33 percent actually use the console, what’s the impetus for developers to spend the limited amount of capital on the Wii?

For the first time, I truly believe that the Wii is best suited as a novelty device that only plays first-party full-length games and third-party mini-games. Generally speaking, most of the games on the console fit into that category anyway, and judging by those vaunted hardware sales, it seems it’s working for Nintendo.

Now, obviously I would like to see the Wii become a console capable of making me want to play full-featured titles, but I simply don’t see how it could do that. With development costs on the rise and game exclusivity becoming a rarity, most developers realize that graphics and epic titles are still the main selling points for gamers and the Wii has yet to deliver on either of those attributes.

Simply put, the Wii may be too late. If it had come out last generation, it would have easily dominated. But in an environment where games costs millions to produce, “fun” is quickly giving way to an “immersing experience” that third-party developers are willing to create on the Wii.

Sad as it is, the Wii isn’t even a contender in the console wars. With 67 percent of people using it to catch dust, the Wii has become a $250 novelty.

I could possibly see a bit of what Mr. Reisinger was ranting, but the current status isn’t enough of a reason to say “…the Wii is best suited as a novelty device…”. Yes, we’ve been getting a LOT of crappy games this year, many of which could/should of gone to Wiiware, or just cancelled all together (I’m looking at you Billy the Wizard). But after reading dozens of rants like the one above, I really want to shove a list of winter and spring releases under their noses. BW2, Fire Emblem, Galaxy, Nights, Wii Fit, Brawl, Mario Kart, Monster Hunter…do they go temporarily blind when a fact sheet crosses their desks or what? Of course a console is going to have “dead” seasons, but what’s new?! The PS3 just went through one of the longest droughts that I’ve ever seen, and yet PS3 owners are patiently waiting for solid titles, just as we are.

So my counter rant boils down to this…lets give our little, white machine a chance to get some solid titles on the market before we slap “novelty” on the box.

What do you think Infendo? Is the Wii already a failure, or is it just preparing to dominate?