I think I just added Spore creator Wii Wright to my Christmas shopping list. In an interview with Guardian Unlimited Wright, who also created the Sims, called the Wii the only true next-generation console out of the three new console platforms on the market.
Of course some of us already subscribe to this belief, but to hear someone of Wright’s caliber put it so succinctly might win over a few more:
“Somebody asked me what I thought next generation meant and what about the PlayStation 3 was next generation. The only next gen system I’ve seen is the Wii – the PS3 and the Xbox 360 feel like better versions of the last, but pretty much the same game with incremental improvement”, Wright told Guardian Unlimited. Wii, Wright continued, feels like a major jump, “not that the graphics are more powerful, but that it hits a completely different demographic.”
And they are. This isn’t to say the Wii is “better” however, because that label really doesn’t have any bearing on the conversation. The PS3 and 360 literally cannot do what the Wii has achieved, and vice versa The current crop of Xbox 360 commercials, showing crowds of “all types of people” playing Halo 3 are fun to watch, however. To me it feels like they’d rather be playing something else in them, but again, it’s me we’re talking about. Motion sensing or web cam-like after market accessories will be just that, accessories, and are not integrated into the system from day one. The Wii Balance Board somewhat falls into this category as well, making it one of Nintendo’s riskier — if not still really well thought out — moves of late. Development costs are also set. Nintendo committed to low cost using off the shelf hardware and chips on a single SKU, just as they did with the original NES, and the others went with bleeding edge on an ever-changing platform of console SKUs with different ports, hard drives, etc. Some of them even have themes.
Money, as usual, is also an indicator of how “wright” Will is with his comments. Profits for the 360 are steady, and the audience size and growth curve are indicative of a continuation from the previous console era. The Wii, on the other hand, remains sold out (even without serious IP over the summer, imagine that!), on the minds of the mainstream media (old fart expose’s continue to be published unabated), and has given Nintendo the opportunity to revise profit forecasts five times in two years. And this has all happened before the serious first party IP has even dropped yet (with the exception of Metroid, natch). In effect, this holiday could very well be a perfect storm that lasts well into 2008.
Wright also said his PC still kicks the butt of any graphics he’s seen on a console, which is foreboding to say the least. It means that in addition to competing with video, music and other multimedia outlets, today’s powerhouse consoles are also competing with PC’s, and must somehow differentiate themselves from that arena too. Who knows though; maybe there’s a PC SKU in the works that we don’t know about yet.