We have been introduced to a new breed of gamer. This was created by Nintendo using a dual campaign of their Nintendo DS and their Wii console.
Nintendo needed a hook, a hook to try and get back to the top of the gaming charts again. After the pretty mild Gamecube sales (compared to its previous consoles) Nintendo were looking for ways to relaunch themselves. Their decision - to make games appeal to everyone.
They then proceeded to release the Nintendo DS, the now top selling handheld console. For the first time in years we have saw a marketing campaign showing
that everyone can play this. From the very young to the very old. It didnt matter what age you were, you could still play Brain Training, Nintendogs and Animal Crossing! Their marketing ads showed older people doing the brain training and also celebrities playing it. This was, and is still the case with the games.
2006 came around and we were shown the power of the casual gamer. 2006 showed the release of the Wii and the family gamer was truly born. Nintendo invested a lot of money in one last gasp to attract more fans.
The Nintendo Wii, as we all know uses a remote control and a nunchak controller. It based on using the motion sensitivity to play the games, when you swing your hand the character on the screen does the same. To demonstrate this Nintendo released with the console its Wii Sports, this helped people get to grips with the "new" control system of the Wii.
The Wii marketing team had a field day - they set up TV advertisements showing the family sitting around the TV each with a Wii controller laughing and smiling as they play a round of golf, bowling or a game of tennis.
When people saw this sales shot through the roof and the Wii was being bought left, right and centre. Months at a time game stores had Wii shortages, the Wii was the must-have gadget.
Friends would come over and see the Wii and would NEED to have a shot of it. At the end of the night they would say that they then wanted to get one.
Because of people torrent of people wanting to get a Wii, you would find ebayers buying them in bulk and selling some for about 3 times the retail price. And people were buying them. The Wiivolution had begun.
Present day, the Wii marketers are still releasing the same annoying adverts where they are showing the "Family/casual" gamers who are sitting around the TV giggling with their grannies as they play the Wii. The all have the same big smiles across their faces and keep up this smile when they lose the game they are playing.
I saw the recent trailer for the upcoming Wii Fit and this is what has drove me to write this blog.
So the trailer loads up and you see different people using the Wii's new balance board. Dont get me wrong it is a good idea but what annoys me is the way they market it, they show that everyone can use it again - whether it be for the fitness side or the dance mat side. Its the SAME damn annoying fake people playing the games. I know they have to show that the people are having fun and show what the balance board can do. But please, for the love of God stop putting the fake people. You have the mum, dad, son and daughter, the stereotypical family.
The Wii does have some good games including: Zelda, Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Brothers Brawl etc. But the majority of the games seem to be movie tie ins or games such as brain age aimed at the whole family. I bought the Wii back in 2006 when it came out, played Wii sports and found it fun for a while. But I also have the Xbox 360 and am used to playing more challenging games. Needless to say that if you are playing single player on Wii Sports I find it gets boring fast. So, I bought Zelda and Red Steel. Played and completed both. After the whole new console/new games/new ways to play novelty worn out I found myself bored with it.
It took months to find another game that I can actually play on my own. A lot of my friends dont live in the same city as me now and my family are busy. So, trying to find a good one player game that I can settle down to is quite hard. I put my Wii to the side and went back happily to my Xbox 360, which I can find plenty of one player games to play.
The problem, in my opinion with the Wii is that it is fun for a while, and is a lot of fun with the correct games and people to play with. But once your friends leave you are very limited to the games that are still fun to play on your own.
Developers and marketing types who dont really know much about gaming and what people like are now finding this mass market of the Family/Casual gamers and because they see the sales figures of games like Wii Play they get the idea that simple is fun.
The problem is simple IS fun - Lumines & Tetris are good examples.
What they are doing wrong is mass producing simple games aimed at the family gamers and children. Because of this we get games like those from Data Design Interactive who are set to release around 12 games such as Anubis 2 and NinjaBreadMan, these games are "budget" games coming to us at a very low price. Seems you get what you pay for as these games have had an average of about 1-4 out of 10 in most review sites.
Anubis 2, NinjaBreadMan, and Elviz - Rock N Roll Adventures are basically the same game only with different characters and landscapes.
This is what is wrong with the whole casual gamer mark. It doesnt matter how bad the game is, people will buy it because it is "simple and looks fun" -
Developers need to realise the real roots of the game sales. The Wii could be a great console, they just need to step back from adding gimmicks to games such as motion control when it is not needed. Having to shake the control to attack is one thing which annoys me, yes include it in the game but also have a control set up where you dont have to look like you are having a seizure when trying to attack something but failing because the motion sensitivity in the game sucks. A simple press of the button to do an attack would be more than enough with some games.
Mike Capps, president of Epic Games - the creator of Gears of War hit the nail on the head, the wii is still only a party console in my eyes. People see one when they are over at a friends house, they want one, they get one, they play for it for a month or two and the motion control novelty wears off when they finish the games and realise there arent many games for the gamer who wants to be able to play a game that is fun on their own. I think the majority of gamers would rather have a single player game that is fun with an add on for multiplayer, than one that is very poor single player and good multiplayer. There are cases when this is different - Halo 3 didnt have the best single player, but excelled in multiplayer. Consoles like Xbox 360 and the PS3 allow players both options, good multiplayer games and good single player games. The Wii, in my opinion only has about 15 maximum (an estimate, I have not counted them.)
Another thing which bugs me is the rise in cheap-ware on the Nintendo DS. Nintendogs and Brain Training were the original games in their genre on the DS. These have now been copied again and are being milked dry with different variations. Dogz and Catz has now come back to the Nintendo systems. This is a long running series in games dating back to the 90s, however, next to Nintendogs I dont see why anyone would want this. On the DS you can also find a huge array of: Brain training games, sudoku, sight training, crossword games etc. You can now get Build your own safari park, look after a virtual cat/dog/pony/baby. Whats next? A virtual Ant Farm - raise your ants with the DS! Touch the screen to move your ants! Now with real ant noises! Buy Now! Only $20!
This is in no way an anti Wii article it is more a plea to developers to move away from aiming games at the casual/family gamer and to remember the other gamers, the ones who have been playing for years and know what they want with games. They want games to be thought out, look good and play well. Stop with the generic cheap-ware games and focus on bringing us new things. We have seen motion control games now - dont make it into a gimmick. You dont ALWAYS have to use this for every single game now. Give us something fun, something not too over the top.
If every game on the Wii has about half as fun as something like Zelda, Mario Galaxy/Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros the Wii could easily become one of the best consoles ever.