It would seem to the casual observer that in terms of pop-culture, much of Japan never left the 80’s in the first place, but economically and popularly anyway, Nintendo appears to be re-living those glorious years of big hair and colour blindness. I’m half expecting Miyamoto to turn up to the next game convention in a spiky, bleached two-tone mullet, because Nintendo has never had it so good since 1984.
We already know that the DS owns the portable arena, but at least one source is now reporting that the inevitable has happened, and that the Wii is now the most owned console of this hardware iteration, pushing the 360 into second place. It’s still selling at more than double the rate of any other (non-Nintendo) console too, despite a pretty extensive games drought on the machine since its launch, to a large degree because 3rd party developers just didn’t see it coming. Seems that most people in charge of game development were too wrapped up in next-gen ambitions that it didn’t really occur to them that Nintendo might know what they were doing when it came to stepping away from the hardcore and trying to interest the mass market. Who looks dumb now? 😉 It happened with the DS too of course - there was a chronic lack of 3rd-party titles up to a year after it’s release because those in the industry really expected it to fail.
Personally, I’m really happy for them. Nintendo invented so many things we take for granted in console gaming - the D-Pad, the analogue thumbstick, the rumble feature and no doubt countless other things - and it has a real talent for creating really solid games that are often looked down on by the ‘cool’ gaming crowd for being ‘kid friendly’ or graphically inferior. Maybe this will be a reality check of sorts - that gaming is a vast landscape, a continuum of infinite possibility with wide seams of demand and it’s really not best for either the medium or your finances to concentrate solely on one demographic all the time - ie young, male, hardcore gamers. Sure the wider public might buy less games per head than the hardcore crowd, but Wii and DS games cost less to make, especially since the more casual crowd don’t demand $20m production values on everything they play, and there are simply far more of them to make up the slack - the fact that the PS2 is still outselling both the 360 and the PS3 (but not the Wii) must be indicative of that. Makes financial sense to me, and I welcome the status quo being shaken up a little bit.