NYT today has a story about Nintendo’s bid to revive its downcast economic fortunes by releasing a new Wii system this Christmas season. Excerpt:
But will it be the blowout that Nintendo needs? Many industry veterans and game reviewers are skeptical. They question whether the Wii U can be as successful as the original, now that many gamers have moved on to more abundant, cheaper and more convenient mobile games.
“I actually am baffled by it,” Nolan K. Bushnell, the founder of Atari and the godfather of the games business, says of the Wii U. “I don’t think it’s going to be a big success.”
The bigger question is what the future holds for any of the major game systems, including new ones that Sony and Microsoft are expected to release next year. Echoing other industry veterans, Mr. Bushnell says that consoles are already delivering remarkable graphics and that few but the most hard-core players will be willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a new game box.
“These things will continue to sputter along, but I really don’t think they’ll be of major import ever again,” he says. “It feels like the end of an era to me.”
This is interesting to me. I am not a gamer, and I don’t follow this world at all. My kids have had a Wii system for the past four years. They used to play it all the time. Now they rarely do, despite our briefly successful bid last Christmas to revive the Wii’s fortunes by buying them Guitar Hero.
They game a lot, though, and when they game, it’s almost always playing Minecraft on old iPhones that Julie and I have discarded, or Minecraft on an old iPad, or other games available on the mobile platform. (Matthew constantly plays Kerbal Space Program on his laptop.) They would rather play something like Angry Birds on an old mobile device than anything on the Wii — even though the Wii lets them play on a much larger screen. I’ve been thinking about whether Santa should bring them a new Wii game or two this year, but it seems like that would be money not well spent. I would absolutely not buy a new Wii system, no matter how innovative, because I don’t have the confidence that my kids would use it for more than a week or two before going back to their mobile devices.
What’s your family’s experience with gaming in this way?