Wii Virtual Console: 100 classics or a missed opportunity?

Posted by Mark Raby

Nintendo today announced that it will break the 100 game milestone on the Wii Virtual Console next week, but the collection is so littered with vintage titles that weren't even worth three bucks the first time around. Is this just an artifically inflated number to attract your attention - without any other value?

The four best-selling games on the digital download service all have Mario in their titles.  Classic Mario titles are Nintendo's bread and butter. Super Mario Bros has been a cash cow for the video game giant for over 20 years.

So, where are all the Mario games on the Virtual Console?  Of the 100+ that will be available after next Monday, the total number of Mario titles will be five.

It's the typical Nintendo mindset - make consumers wait longer for what they want because it might be exciting when it's actually available. Unfortunately, that's the same thought process Nintendo had in the early 2000s, and they almost got kicked out of the video game hardware market from consumers as a result. Of course, that's not the only reason the Gamecube failed, but failing to introduce a Mario game until years after the system was released made a huge hit on the number of early adopters.

The fan favorites, like Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario RPG, are very easy games to emulate, but Nintendo is holding off on those. In fact, they have been notably absent from new Virtual Console releases for a while. The last time a Nintendo-developed title hit the online store was April 16, with the NES's Punch-Out.

For the past month and a half, Nintendo has just stepped aside and let third party publishers beef up the Virtual Console library, and I've got to believe that there's just not a huge demand for WestOne's 1991 Sega Genesis game "Wonder Boy in Monster World". 
Each week I hope to see the original Mario Party for the N64 pop up on the Virtual Console, or the accidental NES classic Super Mario Bros 2, or even Yoshi's Island. My guess is we'll have to wait until the E3 Media & Business Summit next month before Nintendo even talks about any of these games.

For some reason, Nintendo seems to value hype over profits. If it put up Super Mario Bros 3 on the Virtual Console today, that would be at least an instant six-figure boost in the company's pockets, with hundreds of thousands of downloads to follow.

I'm leery on how far Nintendo can take its initial success with the Wii. To me, the smart thing to do would be to put out these defining Nintendo titles now, while the Wii is hot and making news, and not wait until even a year down the road when the PS3 has a chance to get up on its feet.

 

What is your opinion? Is Nintendo playing with the patience of its customers? Let us know what you think and write a comment in the form below.