One of the clear unspoken messages to emerge from the Nintendo press conference earlier today was that they are no longer to be considered the “Third way” in console gaming. The Wii has a family feel to it, but the game lineup speaks differently: This will be a console for hardcore, gun toting, mania loving gamers as well as Mario fans.
As well as rather fun looking “classic” Nintendo titles we’re expecting a lineup of shooters, such as Red Steel which is not your fathers PG-13 type of game, to official sports titles like EA’s Madden NFL 07. From Tony Hawks to Final Fantasy, of which there will be an exclusive Wii iteration, the software portfolio for Nintendo’s upcoming console looks to be as wide and varied as those of its two main competitors.
Indeed, I would argue that with the added “Family fun” games, such as Mario and the sports titles which Nintendo showcased at the conference, and the access to titles such as Zelda the Wii would look pretty strong even without its controller.
But it is the Wii controller which is what really sets Nintendo apart from the crowd, and while Sony raised a few eyebrows yesterday with their motion sensitive controller, it looks like a tacked on last-minute extra compared to what Nintendo had on show today. The graphics on the Wii games do not look nearly as “Next-gen” as those on its competitors consoles, but the games look like they have the potential to be more fun and engaging.
It is a fundamental war we are seeing developing now, as Nintendo pushes out the boat in terms of control and gameplay rather than graphics and complexity. I have a feeling that many gamers could choose to buy a Nintendo Wii over an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3, preferring the new gameplay to the graphics. Certainly the price point couldn’t hurt either, and while Nintendo did not name a price for their console today it is expected to come in far below Sony’s lofty $500/€500 for just the basic package – the Wii is expected at a more palatable $300 or so.
So, Nintendo now has a far more credible lineup of games for the Wii as far as traditional core gamers are concerned, and they’ll probably have a sweeter price point than their competitors. It now comes down to how gamers vote with their feet.
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