When I first started writing this article I was wondering what Nintendo was doing wrong, why hadn’t they given the Wii the upgrades it needs? With sales steadily declining, and Kinect grabbing lots of attention, how could they expect to stay on top with a console that doesn’t even have HD? And so I started looking deeper, and after some research I came to a somewhat startling realization. Nintendo was doing everything right.

History has shown that Nintendo doesn’t get concerned when the world starts to question their relevance, and wonder if they will be able to compete with the innovations of the competition. And they have good reason not to be, because they always have something else up their sleeve, something unexpected. While the competition focuses on making somewhat trivial, and design heavy improvements to hardware they already produce, Nintendo is always working on The Next Big Thing.

When the PS3 Slim came out in 2009 it boosted having double the storage, free online gaming, and a more affordable price point. But did it really change the way you game? Not at all. Now think about when the latest version of the Xbox 360 was launched in 2010, anything significantly new there? The only would be game changer launched by Nintendo’s competition has been Kinect, an Xbox accessory launched in 2010. Kinect’s stated purpose was to allow for a controller free gaming experience, something that sounds innovative. But was it really? It seems that the Kinect’s real purpose was to entice non-gamers to play by simplifying controls and using movement, something that Nintendo did four years earlier. This is not to say that Kinect hasn’t been successful. Given that Microsoft has sold 10 million Kinect sensors and has been awarded a Guinness World Record for the fastest-selling consumer electronics device in a 60-day period, it is clear that Kinect has changed the Xbox 360 experience for the better. But this still comes four years after the Nintendo changed the way the world views home consoles, and paved the way for a family gaming experience. In reality it took Nintendo’s competition four years to come up with a product that could compete in the family segment of the home console market.

Given the technological advances made in the years since the Wii first launched, people have started to wonder, is it time for an upgrade of the Wii? After all it isn’t available in HD, doesn’t play DVDs, and hasn’t had any significant development since its launch. The truth is that in comparison to what the competition offers as far as storage, graphics, and range of use, the Wii does need an upgrade. But I doubt that we will see it. Part of Nintendo’s business strategy is that they don’t get bogged down with small technical upgrades. It’s a somewhat risky strategy that, at times, leaves some customers feeling left out. But this is also the brilliance of it. By not getting lost in the smaller details that primarily appeal to technology savvy gamers, they allow themselves to focus on creating a device that will open the door to a whole new market of customers. In 2010 Reggie Fils-Aime, president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America stated, “I think a hallmark of Nintendo is that we are constantly trying to innovate, I think we would have been embarrassed to do what our competitors are currently doing.” This is fundamental reason why Nintendo is so good at what they do, and also the simple explanation for why you won’t be viewing your Wii in HD.

So for all of you out there thinking the Wii needs an upgrade, have a little faith. Nintendo hasn’t forgotten about you, they’re just focusing on making sure their next hardware launch blows your mind just as much as the Wii did four years ago. On that note, it is rumored that Nintendo will reveal their new home console system at E3 in June of this year, and the Nintendo 3DS goes on sale March 27th with features such as glasses-free 3D graphics, and a 3D Depth Slider that allows the user to adjust the depth of stereoscopy to suit their preferences.

The Author

Samantha Hett

Samantha Hett

Samantha has had many jobs throughout her life: Cowgirl, hostess, Landlady and Hedgehog Wrangler among others. Currently she is about to finish her MBA, we'll all meet for drinks afterwards.

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  1. March 18, 2011 at 11:37 am — Reply

    Really? Was the Gamebox such an innovation? Was the N64? To be fair, Nintendo’s not known so much for its innovation, but for its universality of audience. The company has always scaled back on reaching for cutting edge technology in exchange for a “more pure” gaming experience and (most importantly) a lower price point.

    The Wii was the first system to really have a significant technological edge over its competitors since the release of the first Playstation.

    Seems like they’ve devoted far more dev dollars to the DS than console work. That’s not necessarily a bad strategy, but even if they add 3D to the Wii, I don’t think it’d make it a totally different experience. How much penetration has 3D made into households, after all?

    • Tondi- (Villain)
      March 19, 2011 at 4:30 am — Reply

      Technological edge and Innovation are very different things. The N64 took gaming leaps and bounds with 3D games and although the controller was weird it was used in ways never thought before. The game cube was 1/4 of the size of the other consoles even if it did look like a piece of lego. How about we look at hand held gaming, gameboys gone from black and white to colour to two screens to internet device to 3D.

      I think its their innovation that makes them accessible to more people.

      • March 20, 2011 at 5:23 pm — Reply

        I agree that, in many things, tech and innovation are not the same thing, but I’d say they are when it comes to gaming consoles. The N64 may have had games that used the controller in unique ways, but that still didn’t save it from being thoroughly outsold in the marketplace. The Gamebox may have been smaller, but how much did that matter to gamers?

        And I agree that their hand held strategy has been spot on–making great strides against other systems that may have been flashier or held more of the media spotlight, but the article wasn’t about that.

  2. brenton8090
    March 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm — Reply

    Nintendo needs to upgrade if they want to keep making more money, and they’ll have to really change the game AGAIN.
    They have paved the way to a whole new audience: casual consumers. But at the cost of sacrificing a lot of hard-core gamers (myself included: tired of lack of interesting games, I recently traded in my Wii for a 360)

    So, let me ask this: of all the soccer moms and grandparents that Nintendo has sold consoles to, how many of these “casual gamers” are going to rush out to buy the Wii 2.0?

    My guess is this: everybody bought the Wii. But nobody really plays it much. So who’s going to rush out to buy the new system that doesn’t have any games they want? The wii had innovative hardware, but when it comes to software, Nintendo seems incapable of anything but repetition. Remakes and shovelware are about all you’ll get.

    The Wii cycle mirrors that of Guitar Hero pretty well. Innovative gameplay, a lot of new peripherals, but in the end, it’s kind of a one-trick-pony. Once the novelty wears off, hard-core gamers want more engaging content, which Nintendo is lacking in, and casual gamers drift away. So while the novelty may dominate in the short-term, eventually the craze dies out. Which is exactly what happened to Guitar Hero. Because at the end of the day, why do I need ANOTHER Guitar Playing Game, when it’s the same as the one I have?
    I think a lot of Nintendo’s “new market” will ask the same question with Wii2, and the traditional “rush out and buy it right now” audience of hard core gamers have already fled for other systems. So I think we’
    ll see that Nintendo may have shot itself in the foot.

    • Tondi- (Villain)
      March 19, 2011 at 4:39 am — Reply

      I think the number of soccer moms outnumber the number of hardcore gamers by, oh i don’t know, infinity to one.

      It’s become pretty clear they don’t need the hardcore gamer crowd. They make a product for everyone not a niche and thats whats really impressive.

      • brenton8090
        March 19, 2011 at 6:34 am — Reply

        I guess my question is: will those soccer moms rush out to buy ANOTHER console? For me, console sales are usually driven by A: some new tech or gizmo that I want an upgrade for or B: to play the new games.

        Considering that Nintendo’s software sales are always so frighteningly low, even when their system sales are high, I wonder if either of those reasons will be enough to get casual users to drop another $200 when they already have a perfectly fine Wii 1.0.

        • Damascus
          May 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm — Reply

          EXACTLY! My aunt is old and she loves her 8-bit Regular Nintendo system. She bought it years ago and it still works, so she has no intention of buying any new system because that one still works. She’ll never go out and buy the newest thing.
          The casual gamer that Nintendo won over with the Wii, isn’t the type of customer who will go out and buy every new updated system that comes out like us hardcore gamers will. I own a ColecoVision, Reg. Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, Wii, PSOne, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360, Two Sega Genesis, a Sega GameGear, (2) Nintendo DS’s (the old clunky grey ones), and even a few of those 5-in-one joystick style games that you plug right into the AV ports and play Galaga or whatever. I like the Wii, but it’s relegated to simply the system I pull out when people are gonna be over and they might want to play Wii Sports or maybe Mario Bros or something. If I really want to get into a good game, I turn on the 360 or the PS3.

          I just feel like if I’m buying a new system, it shouldn’t have the equivalent graphics of a system that’s over a decade old (i.e. the Gamecube). I just get way more for my money with the PS3 than I do with the Wii at this point. And the Wii is really easy to SoftMod and I still prefer my “grown up” games systems more.

          The Playstation Move controller is better than the Wii’s motion control and the Kinect (if it ever gets any good games) nullifies the thing that makes the Wii so unique and does it with graphics that are thousands of times better.

          Nintendo has the benefit of great licensed characters. People will still buy the newest Zelda, Mario, Mario Kart, Smash Bros., etc. The Wii was a great idea, but now they need to give the hardcore gamers something to be excited for. Give us some adult based games and give us a Halo equivalent or more appropriately for this new age, a Call of Duty: Black Ops equivalent.

      • Generik
        March 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm — Reply

        “I think the number of soccer moms outnumber the number of hardcore gamers by, oh i don’t know, infinity to one”

        Look at the number of sales for say Call of Duty: Black Ops and you may want to re-assess your statement. There are certainly more soccer moms out there.. I’ll give you that. But those soccer moms are NOT buying games. They have Wii Sports and Wii Fit and that’s about the extent of it.

  3. Alvarlux
    March 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm — Reply

    This is missing a large piece of the puzzle – Developers not wanting to develop games on their platform. That is exactly why the console needs an upgrade.

    The Wii being so far behind in graphics from the real current gen consoles means developers can’t port games over without significant reworking, so it is skipped or setup as a separate less important version.

    This leaves the Wii with low cost, low quality cash grabs – mini game collections, licensed games, etc

    Most “AAA” games being produced are from Nintendo, or companies offered incentives from Nintendo to make games.

    I think history will reflect back on the Wii not as the platform that took gaming mainstream but rather the straw that broke the “hardcore” gamers back, finally abandoning Nintendo consoles as an option – the next generation has a lot to make up for, and i don’t think they’ll be able to overcome the albatross the Wii has become. A platform will not survive without the “hardcore” segment, meaning Nintendo could go the way of Sega.

  4. Tondi- (Villain)
    March 19, 2011 at 5:26 am — Reply

    I have no doubts Nintendos next home console will be well received. While the big two are busy with the measuring tape Nintendo is actually changing the game.

    The graphics is a non-issue for me. Graphics don’t determine the worth of a game and a lot of games aren’t even 1080p so they shouldn’t be boasting about HD so much.

    I’ve used a PS Move and was utterly disappointed with the range and responsiveness.

    They have enough core title to keep loyal fans interested and with the wii they proved that gaming didn’t have to be a 1 to 2 person activity.

    They are THE most successful game company ever. Don’t believe me? The Mario Cast, Donkey Kong, Link (who some people call Zelda), Samus, Pokemon…..what do all these names have in common?

    I can’t wait.

    • brenton8090
      March 19, 2011 at 6:32 am — Reply

      Yeah, but that’s about ALL they have. When was the last time nintendo came up with a successful original franchise? Goldeneye? Smash Bros? Both of which started on the 64. The hardware is fine, it’s the software that will kill them.
      ANd no, gaming doesn’t have to be a 1 to 2 person activity, but Nintendo didn’t prove that, XBOX did. I still play regularly with up to 16 people at a time. But Nintendo’s online strategy seems carefully cultivated to KEEP you from playing with people, unless they come over to your house. Which is why my beloved Wii (that I camped out for on launch day) spent so much time gathering dust in the last 2 years.

      • Tondi- (Villain)
        March 19, 2011 at 8:06 pm — Reply

        Playing online and playing locally are completely different things. Its like considering the people you know online as your friends.

        And if you were LANing your xbox you would have been one of the few.

        How about sports for an original series. A game that everyone loved and came with the console! Now thats innovation!

        • Generik
          March 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm — Reply

          “Playing online and playing locally are completely different things. Its like considering the people you know online as your friends.”

          What if the people you know online ARE your friends? I play online pretty frequently and many times with friends I routinely associate with outside of gaming.

    • March 20, 2011 at 5:34 pm — Reply

      Well, that’s because the PS Move is kinda sucky.

      And the Wii has held the core market for local family or party play A) because the games really weren’t there anywhere else and B) because it was the only system that allowed for that kind of movement.

      By contrast, the Kinect has one-upped it.

      The fun local play is there, and the games that are coming out for it are squarely targeted at the Wii audience. For years, I wanted the equivalent of Mario Kart for the X-Box. Now, I finally have it (Sonic Free Riders–a racing game for the Kinect). And, for the core gamers, you still have online multiplay/Call of Duty/etc.

  5. brenton8090
    March 19, 2011 at 6:35 am — Reply

    I’m loving this discussion, btw. Kudos to all spoilerites involved.

  6. SpiderLover
    March 19, 2011 at 5:56 pm — Reply

    Nintendo is going for the casual crowd and thats not all. This year they have released Donkey kong Country Returns, Kirby Epic Yarn, and later another Zelda Game. They have not forgotten about the hardcore for lack of better terms, but they are getting the casual pie.

  7. Icebadger2000
    March 20, 2011 at 11:26 am — Reply

    As Someone who has worked selling these systems i can tell you the problem that Nintendo faces is not hardware. It is software. These companies do not make their money from selling the system. They make it selling games and Nintendo is falling way behind in that category. For every X-box 360 sold it leaves with an average of 3-4 games, the PS-3 1-2, The Wii average 0. Your soccer mom although they out number the hardcore gamers do not spend as much as a Hardcore gamer. The games are not as important to them.
    And Nintendo Does play the lets tweak our hardware game a lot but they do it with their hand held the DS has gone thu soon to be 5 versions now and 3 of them were nothing more than a slight re design of the original syste,. and why because that is where they are making their money.

    And if Nintendo plays the game smart they will release their next gen console first. It is a tested guide to success. The PS2 was the weakest of all three consoles in the last generation technology wise but it was the most popular because it was first to the market and got Saturation first. Same with the 360 not the strongest tech wise of the 3 but first to market first to saturate.

    Nintendo played it smart this time Needing a next gen console the did a small upgrade to the existing game cube tech (And yes the specs on the Wii are virtually the same as the Game cube) and are probably pouring their money into being the first out of the gate on the next generation. the fact the wii had a great gimmick and sold a ton of units was a Incredible bonus to them.

    So i guess in the end I doubt that nintendo will re design the wii, better to save the money and push first to market in the next gen

    When it comes to systems you don,t re design when sales are poor you re design when sales are hot because you will see people go out and buy the same system to have to get the newest version of it.

    • Generik
      March 21, 2011 at 3:23 pm — Reply

      Being first to market does NOT make your console the instant favorite. You cited the PS2 from last generation but in truth the Sega Dreamcast was the first console of that generation to market. Considered by many to be the best of that generation it’s sales were so poor that Sega officially abandoned the hardware business.

      Also, I really struggle with the idea that the PS2 was the weakest console of last generation. I think in many ways that still falls squarely on the Gamecube in many ways. Having owned every console from last generation, I can say graphically the Xbox was the superior, followed by the PS2 and then Dreamcast and Gamecube somewhat tying for 3rd. That’s not based on hard system specs, but on what I perceived while playing games on each system.

  8. Queejibo
    March 20, 2011 at 12:25 pm — Reply

    For the grown ups, our little Wii is a Netflix viewer and, occasionally, ad-hoc karaoke machine. Its simple navigation and dialog screens also make it easy for my 6 year old to use when he wants to drag out Rock Band and sturdy enough to survive a couple of drops when it travels. Graphics and game selection are also a focus for us because we attach it to an old CRT TV for the kids and basically can pick any game and be pretty sure it will be okay for all ages. We are their target demographic and couldn’t be more pleased with it for price point/features (okay, a option to play DVDs would be NICE but, eh, we manage…)
    As a side note, my wife and her sister each recently won Xboxs with KINECT and my in-law’s arrived first. She was saddened to note that you need an Xbox Gold LIVE membership to use Netflix (a free download on Wii) and while the KINECT was neat, its only a little different than what Wii already did. We’ve had ours for a week and still haven’t unboxed it.

    • Damascus
      May 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm — Reply

      The nice thing about the PS3 is that you get the Blu-Ray player built in, free online gameplay and Netflix runs straight off the system without having to pay for any upgraded online memberships or anything. And it has the best graphics of the lot.

  9. Blackthunder01
    March 21, 2011 at 7:12 am — Reply

    Nintendo creates the first mainstream motion controller and suddenly they’re innovative? The last innovation they made before that was called the Gameboy. Or maybe a light gun. They are the stagnant remains of a former power house. They don’t compete because they can’t compete. That’s why they always take last place in console sales when each generation ends. They have a market of gamers that like Mario, Zelda, and Samus that support their existance. They’re not a thrid party contender. … and take a look at the games they keep remaking over and over again. Mario, Zelda, and Samus. They are the only characters/titles keeping them alive. Without them, Nintendo becomes Nintend-who?

    • Damascus
      May 4, 2011 at 9:55 pm — Reply

      No no, remember the Virtual Boy? That may have been the last real innovation before motion control. Remember how that blew the gaming community out of the water, oh wait…..um, nevermind.

  10. Generik
    March 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm — Reply

    I think to disregard the contributions that the Xbox 360 has made to innovation in game consoles is a mistake. First start with online play. Something that technically was around before the Xbox but that was honed into a masterpiece called Xbox Live. So easy that anyone who can plug their Xbox into their internet connection can get involved in online gaming. Online friends lists that are easy to manage and also the real birthplace of DLC to extend games beyond their release date. Mass Effect 2 is getting a new expansion in just over a week almost 18 months after release.

    As to Kinnect. Reggie Fils Aime can say he would be embarrassed by his competitors but I don’t get it. The Kinnect to the core idea of the Wii, that gaming didn’t need to involve sitting on the couch with a controller, and actually made it a true reality. The games are not ‘hardcore’.. yet. I have faith that they will find ways to appeal even to the hardcore given some time. But having played a number of the Kinnect launch titles I can unequivocally state I have no interest to ever play my Wii again. A system that track full body movement to play sports or activity based games is much more engaging then simply flicking your wrist with a nunchuk in your hand. Don’t get me wrong.. Wii Sports was fun 3 or 4 years ago. But then you learn that you can play bowling sitting down and still bowl a 300 game. The Kinnect truly forces you to take part. And if that’s not an innovation, I don’t know what is.

    Lastly, it should be noted that for all this talk of innovation regarding the Wii, Nintendo is slowly and silently moving away from using the motion controls. Reverting back to the more traditional control methods in many of their new games because the hardcore loyalists don’t want to constantly be waving their controllers while playing Donkey Kong or Zelda.

    Anyway, to those saying the writing’s on the wall for Nintendo.. nah. They sell so many bajillion handheld units that they could release a console that completely flopped and still weather the storm. I do believe Nintendo’s best years are in the rearview.

    • Blackthunder01
      March 23, 2011 at 7:51 am — Reply

      Sorry but everything you seem to be crediting to the Xbox I would give credit to PC gaming … and I’m not even a PC gamer. The Kinect is still a novelty just like all motion controlled games. The core and vast majority of titles are still controller based and I doubt that’ll ever change.

      • Generik
        March 23, 2011 at 8:19 am — Reply

        I was specifically speaking only about console gaming. I would completely agree that pretty much everything is initially spawned on PC. But in the case of the Xbox 360, Microsoft is the first to really seem to find a way to make many things PC gamers took for granted work in the living room. Friends lists, messaging to friends, voice chatting, robust online play to name a few. All of those things were certainly available in some form on the PC but I would point out it took a cobbling of multiple apps to bring it together on the PC. No other console had all of this tied up into a nice package until the Xbox 360.

        I also don’t disagree with your assessment of motion gaming. I think it’s a nice diversion and a great option to have on the right occasion. But I don’t every see it becoming the end all be all form of playing video games.

        • Damascus
          May 4, 2011 at 10:02 pm — Reply

          I agree with the assessment of motion control gaming. I like it at times, but way back when Soul Caliber Legends (i think) came out on the Wii, I got it and was playing it all night. It’s kind of a level based fighting game, and I realized that the longer I played and the later it got (and more tired I got), I was sucking harder and harder in the game. The more tired I got, the slower my reaction times were, at least considering I had to be up flailing my arms around and punching and stuff. If I just had the controller in my hands, I think my thumbs could keep on hitting buttons long after I’ve fallen asleep. The Wii is not a game system I want to play when I’m tired, that’s for sure.

  11. Brenton8090
    March 23, 2011 at 8:45 am — Reply

    I agree that the Kinect is just as gimmicky as the Wii motion controls (until I get my voice controlled Netflix. Sweet.)
    My point is thatthe Xbox has amazingly strong options apart from the Kinect or more tractional hardcore gamers. The wii, without the motion gimmick, is pretty weak.
    Don’t agree? Just imagine if Nintendo had an online system like Xbox Live. What if Smash Bros. Online play was as good as Halo’s? I would probably still have my wii.

    • Generik
      March 23, 2011 at 9:43 am — Reply

      The Wii without the motion controls is a Gamecube. It’s literally as simple as that. Nintendo rolled the dice with the Wii by not updating the core hardware much at all and tacking on motion controls as the real differentiator. And it paid off huge for them in terms of hardware sales, but now years later the hardware is really looking last generation.

      The real question to ask when pondering the original intent of this article “Does the Wii need an upgrade?” is this: If you own a Wii as well as either of the other consoles and a game comes out on all 3, which console do you buy the game for? My guess is that in most cases a multiplatform game is going to out perform on the 360 or PS3 vs the Wii. Developers take note of things like that and you start to see more resources shifted away from Wii development and the Wii get’s left with a bunch of shovelware and a few first party gems at the end of the day.

  12. Brenton8090
    March 23, 2011 at 11:35 am — Reply

    I guess the way I read it was “the wii was successful. But when they update, will their “new market” buy the NEW console?”
    Is this new casual market hooked on Nintendo for life, and willing to it whatever they put out? Or was the wii a one time phenomenon, sacrificig a die hard gamer base for a one time fling with a wider market?

    • Generik
      March 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm — Reply

      That a great question and only time will really tell. I personally think they lost a substantial percentage of their ‘hardcore’ base. I put myself firmly in that camp having owned every Nintendo home console. At this time I just don’t see myself buying another unless something dramatic changes. But if you look at the core Nintendo philosophies you will see that they probably aren’t going to make a huge change in course. So in the end I think Nintendo is catering to a younger audience, and always has, and someone like myself who is now mid-30’s is looking for a more mature gaming experience. The Xbox Kinnect no provides a full family entertainment experience that’s good for all ages, and later in the evening I can get back to more mature games like Red Dead Redemption or Mass Effect, etc.

      Anyway, this has been a great discussion with everyone. Frequenting some of the gaming related forums, this would normally be a troll war by now instead of civilized conversation. It’s…. refreshing. ^_^

      • brenton8090
        March 24, 2011 at 5:40 am — Reply

        I agree. So proud to be a part of this site, where you can have discussions, and not just angry yelling monkeys. Great job, guys. And great job, spoilerites.

        • Damascus
          May 4, 2011 at 10:11 pm — Reply


          Okay, not really, I just thought it might make the thread feel a little more like the rest of the internet. ;)

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