I own three consoles: a Xbox 360, PS2 and Wii. And as a gamer, I have no afterthoughts admitting that Wii is the least favorite of my consoles. I'll say it right off the bat that this article includes a lot Nintendo/Wii bashing (fanboys...), even though I have tried to use logic to the best of my ability to support my arguments; besides, I have every right to express my opinion on something I paid a hefty 280 Canadian bucks for and barely play. I don't spend twenty hours a week on gaming, but I am definitely closer to a hardcore gamer than a casual one when it comes to my gaming preferences, and here I will be relating to the Wii as a hardcore gamer. In this article, I will try to keep things general and talk about what went wrong with the Wii, and what I think is the best solution. At the heart of the Wii's problem lies Nintendo's business strategy.
If Nintendo's R&D department receives even 2 percent of Nintendo's revenues, they should have had the resources to release the Wii with hardware that at least approaches, if it's not on par with, the 360 and PS3; the bare minimum for me is HD output. However, corporate greed got the better of them, and they decided to release an overpriced sixth-generation system that non-gamers would gladly buy as a living room ornament, thanks to a gimmicky motion-sensing control scheme. For three years of the Wii's release, until the release of Wii MotionPlus (released as a $25 add-on) in 2009, even the control scheme, Wii's selling point, was very poor and broken. Thankfully, at least that seems to be fixed now, as I learnt from playing Wii Sports Resort.
Even with all the shortcomings, the Wii might have been forgivable had it not been for its most obvious sin: shovelware. Developers instantly capitalized on the Wii's less-discerning casual/non-gamer crowd, who don't mind the difference between a 6.0 and 8.0 game as long as it is technically playable, and besides, they'll probably be saving some bucks on the less shiny game. This is why we have tons of mini-game compilations, each with its own minor tweaks that sets it apart, that are still not doing as badly as they ought to.
The matter of the fact is that the Wii simply can't compete with the PS3 and 360 when it comes to hardcore gamers. The ridiculous amount of shovelware on the system is already putting off hardcore gamers from buying the system, and developers that make games for the hardcore crowd don't want to risk spending resources for making a game on a console with such weak hardware. How many cutting-edge PS3 or 360 games are ported to the Wii? Even among multi-platform games, the Wii version is always rated lower compared to its 360 or PS3 counterparts. And Nintendo simply can't keep releasing a Legend of Zelda, Super Smash Bros Brawl or Super Mario Galaxy every year without making sacrificies to please its core gamers.
The biggest argument is that Nintendo's strength lies not in its hardware but its control scheme. Aside from Nintendo's "tech demos" (Wii Sports/Resort, Wii Fit, Wii Play) and their numerous knock-offs, there are very few games that actually utilize Wii's controls like they should be. And even if developers do properly utilize the control scheme, games with large playing environments can't work on the Wii without major sacrifices, because the truth is that the hardware is very far behind its competition and there's no compensation for that. It would have been great if there was a Grand Theft Auto where you open a car's door with a flick of the Wii remote, then jab with the remote to knock the driver out before jacking a car - but that is out of question on the Wii. Besides, with Microsoft and Sony releasing their Natal and Wand controllers respectively, the Wii's charm will be all but gone (just for the record, I probably won't be buying any of them).
But what has been done has been done, so what can Nintendo now do to get the best balance of business and gamer satisfaction? I think the best solution doesn't require rocket science: release another console, let's just codename it Wii2, with the Wii's motion controls and hardware that compares to its generation (PS4 or Xbox 720); or in other words, release what the Wii should have been. But at the same time, Nintendo should continue supporting the Wii as a parallel to Wii2, so that Wii2 caters to a hardcore crowd, while the Wii continues catering to a non-gamer / casual crowd, who don't mind its lack of technical prowess. The main ingredient to the success of this strategy is that both consoles should have a handful of quality exclusives so that neither console's user base feels conned.
All that I have mentioned in the previous paragraph is by and large wishful thinking. A large chunk of my brain says that Nintendo won't embark on such an ambitious strategy in this economic scenario as long as they are making a killing with the Wii, however it is. But then, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel... or is there?
P.S. This is my first-ever blog, so pardon any technical mistakes in the article