An Open Letter To Wii Fanboys Who Feel Rejected

How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Wii

Is there room in the video game marketplace for casual and hardcore gamers to peacefully coexist?

Hardcore Nintendo fans will argue that the success of the Wii will cause a severe dropoff in more ‘serious’ titles on the platform, having a ripple effect that slows development across other consoles as well.

The theory goes like this:

Game development has become more expensive than ever before, and by catering to a ‘less discriminating’ consumer, Nintendo (and third party publishers) can release more games quickly and cheaply to a larger consumer base. The resulting profits from ‘casual’ and ‘shovelware’ games mean that more company resources will be devoted to these endeavors and ‘serious’ games will become harder to find, or extinct altogether.

Seeing the success of Nintendo’s Wii (still speaking from a Chicken Little Nintendo Fanboy perspective) Microsoft and Sony will devote more time, money, and personnel to breaking into the casual market.

On top of all this, Nintendo is alienating their fan base; the fans that stuck it out through the Gamecube years, faithfully spending their disposable income on Mario, Zelda, and Metroid titles. Nintendo OWES these fans their hardcore titles, and the slow dribble of serious titles shows that they have no respect for the people that put them on the map.

I think I covered the argument… and it’s absolute bullsh*t.

Earlier this week I sat alone in the cafeteria eating my lunch (the Nintendo fanboys referenced above should be familiar with the situation) when I overheard a conversation from a nearby table (I am NOT making this up):

Steve: I just got my Wii… Dude… it’s amazing!

Dave: I don’t play video games.

Steve: I didn’t either, but my Dad got one and we played it at his birthday party. The kids loved it, so I got one on the internet. It came with a bunch of games, and I needed another control, and when I bought the control they threw in another bunch of games. It’s got this one where you race COWS! I didn’t like it at first, but you can play TWO PLAYERS, and that’s where it gets fun.

Seriously. In case you missed it, Steve is the prototypical Wii consumer. He didn’t buy any games with the console, he’s content with WiiSports and WiiPlay. Will he buy more titles down the road? I’m willing to bet he will, but there’s not NEARLY the attach rate you’re going to see with an XBox or Playstation.

Let’s take a look back at recent history.

The Gamecube was a failure. No excuses, and I don’t want to hear your ‘yeah, but..’ It was a FAILURE. Nintendo is a business. They exist to make money. You know… the shiny coins your grandma gives you for mowing the lawn?

Nintendo was faced with a business decision: Continue to fight head-to-head with Sony and Microsoft in the existing market or create a new market of their own.

Based on sales figures since the launch of the Wii, I’d say they made the right BUSINESS decision. They sell the console at a profit (something the other two have a difficult time saying), they make money from licensing fees, and they save money because of an easier development cycle.

Being a BUSINESS, how is that a bad thing?

Does this mean that Nintendo is neglecting the hardcore? I don’t believe so, and history is on my side. If you look back at release windows for Mario, Zelda, and Metroid titles you’ll find that ‘hardcore’ games on the Gamecube were MUCH slower to come than they are for Wii.

I know you want more of these games; you’re nostalgic for the game experience you’ve had in the past. I miss The Beatles… I don’t think they are getting back together any time soon. We both need to face reality, the things we love and miss aren’t going to come back.

Does Nintendo OWE the hardcore a slew of titles? Nope. If you disagree, maybe you need to go argue your case at the next shareholder meeting. Oh wait… you’re not a shareholder? I guess your only recourse is to vote with your wallet: Don’t buy Nintendo products. Then again, if you’re not buying the games, there’s no incentive for them to make any new ones.

I know it’s grim, but there is a ray of hope… and his name is Steve.

Steve is new to gaming, and we can thank Nintendo for that. Now that he’s started, I don’t think he’s going to stop… and I don’t think he’s going to be satisfied with mini-game compilations for long.

Steve will eventually graduate to a Playstation or an XBox. In the meantime, let him enjoy his new gaming experience.

Today’s casual gamer is tomorrow’s hardcore noob… and I can’t wait to start fragging Steve in Resistance 2.

Matt Ellis is a founding member of Bag Of Mad Bastards, and a notoriously outspoken podcaster. His opinions are his alone, and do not reflect the opinions of B.O.M.B., it’s sponsors, or anybody else… blame him.

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3 Comments

  1. Ahhh Matt.. I linked back to this from another Nintendo article. I think what you have wrote is well said, the Wii has bought a whole new population into the gaming market. I might contend that not all will work their way into other segments of the gaming world and thats OK too. I may also contend that not every Wii owner is a gaming noob. You remember I was playing the PlayStation when you were still a hardcore PC gamer back in the day(I still kick myself in the ass for backing the Dreamcast but thats a whole nother argument). I love the Wii because it has done what other game consoles haven’t done as well and thats bring people together. I can see my mom playing a Wii, I can’t see her fragging somebody in Resistance 2 on the PS3. Oh and my guess on the cow riding was Raving Rabbids.. Once of the f**king funniest games I have ever played.

  2. Strangely enough, this was about 4 months before I bought I Wii myself.

    And you’re right, not EVERYONE that buys a Wii as a first console is going to move to one of the other consoles, but SOME of them will, and that’s a hardcore gamer that might never have existed if not for WiiSports or WiiPlay.

    I know you enjoy your Wii, but c’mon… admit it… you’re a hardcore gamer, and if you didn’t have any other considerations (like the price tag of a PS3 or playing games with the wife and kids) you’d already have an XBox or Playstation (and probably a Wii too).

    Yeah… I painted things with broad strokes, just wanted to point out that the Wii is not a betrayal of the hardcore Nintendo fan, it’s a business decision, and evidently a good one. Also, more casual gamers doesn’t spell doom and gloom for the rest of us.

    With three distinct experiences to choose from, I maintain there’s never been a better time to be a gamer, casual OR hardcore.

  3. Nintendo has always favored a different approach. The company has generally been more restrictive as to what gets onto their machines (up until the DS, I don’t think a single Nintendo device had even supported so much as a dating sim!) and the content has generally been geared more for local play. The N64 was really the first console with great 4p support and, following that, the gc was the only major console with innate 4p support. The current policies still reflect that outlook, which is why the wii’s online is such a joke: everything is still more intended for “social” (ie, local) play.

    The only really annoying part is the fact that Nintendo’s pricing is still roughly comparable to the ps360’s despite, in most instances, lower production values. I can understand the logic behind the major 1st party titles (SMG, Mario Kart Wii, SSMB, etc) because you can see where the money’s going, but stuff like Deadly Creatures, NMH, and so forth has less of an excuse (despite being decent games). Interestingly enough, the wii is constantly accused of consisting mostly of shovelware yet 360 titles hit the bargain bins much faster. Plus so far, with rare exception, the overall quality of games being offered on all three consoles really don’t even live up to last gen’s expectations. At best we’ve seen some sad sequels trying to cash in on dying legacies (GTAIV, SC4) and lackluster new franchises; we’ve yet to see a real break-away hit like Kingdom Hearts or an impressive fringe title like Shadow of the Colossus (although Mirror’s Edge was a good start).

    Not to mention that the wii is still bringing out some decent titles, including exclusive REs (and ones that are actually GOOD, unlike Dead Aim), exclusive JRPGs, and strong additions to existing 1st party franchises, in addition to some semi-promising new franchises like NMH. The system is basically a no-brainer lightgun destination and can decently incorporate first-person horror titles.


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