With motion now standard and when equally priced, Xbox 360 more popular than Wii

The Wii has seen quite the drop in demand recently. After dominating the competition for the first four years of its life, the game-changing console has been relegated to second place in America for the last 12 months (give or take a month or two) behind Xbox 360. In other words, when equally priced at $199, Americans slightly favor Xbox 360, at least at this point in the Wii’s lifecycle.

On May 15, the Wii drops to $150. Microsoft is expected to at least match that price for Xbox 360 at E3 next month, putting the consoles on equally pricing ground yet again, and likely helping Microsoft keep the same competitive edge its maintained over the last year. 

The reason? Unlike the GameCube and Xbox of last generation, the Wii and Xbox 360 are two very different machines. And since a lot more people already own Wiis when compared to Xbox 360s ’ 86 million compared to 54 million, according to one estimate ’ it makes sense to see the once second-place console make a twilight surge in popularity.

Not only that, but HD is valued more today than motion control. Xbox has the former. Wii has the latter. But with the launch of Kinect last November (sold separately), Xbox also has the latter. Not as good, mind you. But comparable, not to mention different.

The interesting thing in all of this is that never before has the leading console conceded so much consecutive ground this late in a “console war.” NES dominated the industry its entire life. Super Nintendo eventually won the “most popular” award after trailing Sega Genesis for the first few years. PlayStation killed it from sunrise to sunset. So did PlayStation 2.

For Nintendo to regain the upper hand in the popularity contest, I suspect they’ll have to beat Xbox 360 on price. Say drop the Wii to $99 this holiday, a price the more-expensive-to-make Xbox 360 might not be able to match.

To be clear: I believe the Wii’s phenomenal success was much more than price. If you’ll remember, the base Xbox 360 sold for $50 less than the $250 Wii at one point, and that had zero effect on the still surging popularity and demand for Wii. And nothing can take away from what the Wii achieved, including gameplay innovations, market expansions, and just being a really fun console with a lot of great games.

Having said all that, perhaps the Wii was simply a victim of bad timing. It released a 2-3 years before HDTVs were mainstream, so Nintendo understandably opted not to include HD to keep costs down. But in 2008 and 2009, man, did HD ever go mainstream, leaving new owners slightly miffed by the Wii’s somewhat grainy and fuzzy picture ’ especially since the majority of HDTV owners don’t even own Wii component cables.

What do you think: Could the Wii have kept its mojo the entire time had the HD conditions been favorable? Might it become the no. 1 console again if priced at $99? Or are compliments in order to the resilience and job well done by Microsoft and Xbox 360 in forcing Nintendo’s hand?


  1. I bought my Wii at launch week, but only got my 360 a few months ago. Today I bought another Wii, the black bundle. The Wii still has my favorite titles. The only things I favor in the X360 are the downloadable titles and media center features. Sure the HD is fine to. Xbox doesn’t have Metroid though, and that says it all if you know me.

    I’m in no hurry to buy Wii2D2, but I am in a hurry to see it. I will probably wait at least a year before I buy it.

  2. And the award for snappiest headline goes to….

    One thing people never seem to bring up is market saturation. If 86 million Wiis have already been sold, is it reasonable to expect another surge in sales? At some point, pretty much everybody who is ever going to buy a Wii already has one. I have one, and I’m not planning to buy a second one.

    “Having said all that, perhaps the Wii was simply a victim of bad timing.”

    A console that sells 86 million units is not the victim of anything.

  3. And I must add that, according to internet reports (and talks with friends, so take this with a grain of salt) the PS2 (which set the record) did break a lot. So it is understandable why people would buy more than one, thus inflating the sales numbers. But I don’t think the Wii breaks that much, and people has less reason to buy a second one.

    But I want to see what Nintendo has to offer. I just got myself a GTX560Ti and I can play pretty much any game at 1080p with 4xAA at 60fps. I don’t think a console will be able to top that anytime soon. The only thing Nintendo will have to attract me are their games (which, honestly, should be reason enough). But MS or Sony don’t have the same brand power…


  4. …or maybe it’s just because there haven’t been any major game released for wii in months.

  5. Okay, Blake, I think you’ve convinced me to pick up some component cables. Just have to find the right game to try them out on first 🙂

  6. Look, unless the Wii sells zero units for the next 2 years and the 360 sells 2 million a month there’s no way they’re closing that gap.

  7. @EdEN

    I agree.

  8. The problem with the $99 suggested price drop is one that the GameCube knows well. It doesn’t make it more attractive, it deprecates the value of the system. Sometimes cheap doesn’t spell more desire from the consumer. GC was still profitable at that value, but people saw it as a cheap toy rather than a desirable product. The “if it’s more expensive, it has to be better” mentality. Of course, that has limits as seen with the PS3 launch, but it’s a balance act always. Nintendo is still at a good point with Wii, and the press release of the price drop noted that the PS2 sold half of its installed base at that point late in its lifetime. Why rush to drop it at 99, then?

    On the component cables, I regret buying them so late after already playing dozens of games in SD, but it was worth it I’d say. Still no HD, but sure looks sharper.

  9. @Artefacto: I got my Nintendo Componet Cables ASAP once they had them in stock two months after launch day. Makes a huge difference, right?

  10. ya, w/ the hd cables hooked up to your wii you can see every pixel instead of fuzzy blurred together pixels

  11. Except no major games have come out on the Wii for the last few months, yet quite a few good games have been released for the 360.

    This sudden ‘winning streak’ from the Xbox sales wise has nothing to do with motion controls (or Kinect, the games for it haven’t turned up in the charts for months), but a lack of good games on Nintendo’s part.

  12. This is something I still can’t understand.. I’m not market researcher or business student.. But if the wii sold millions, the. Everyone who wants a wii has one! I had my wii since it came out and it still runs fine? Everyone I know who wants a wii already has one.. What do company’s expect? We buy one for every room in our house?

    Second.. Why do “good new games” need to always be coming out? Does the average person play 36 of games a week? Because that’s around how much they would need to play to be able to enjoy all the new games that come out.

    I still play my gamecube and virtual console games, a lot of those games are still amazing to play today and many of them are still replayable today.

    But that’s just my opinion, I’m sick of companies expecting everyone to be the same.

  13. Ps3/360 better sell as much as they can to catch up. A year from now next gen starts!

  14. To answer the question, it’s pretty obvious there are just so many great Japanese Wii games. If nintendo of America would localize these they would definitely be more competitive. I’m just not sure why noa is so hesitant. They are definitely leaving $$ on the table which they could claim with min effort.

  15. @EdEN
    I wish I could say it’s a huge improvement, but it’s not for me. It’s a good leap from SD, but it’s no 720p either. I wouldn’t go back to 480i at all though.

  16. I have been a huge fan (borderline fanboy) of Nintendo for a great many years. But a little over a month ago a bought me a Xbox 360. I was so freaking sick and frakkin tired of ‘waggle’ that I could take it no more. Even on the really good titles, like Red Steal 2 and Mad World, it took away from the game. I will get LoZ SS and Conduit 2. Aside from that, I am done with the Wii. I adore the pointer, MP3:C was a perfectly beautiful game. But the effing waggle games pissed me off to no end. They are the modern equivalent to the stick spin games from the N64.

Leave a Reply