State of games: Exactly why did Wii win this generation of game console sales

Discussion in 'Console Industry' started by Flux, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. Flux

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    Wii vastly outpowered by its competition won this generation of game console sales.(Well they don't ever win but fanboys think so,so play along.)Before the Wii came out everyone thought the Ps3 was going to repeat its dominant reign after PS1 and PS2.Also we the fanboy minions thought 360 would pull ahead of nintendo again after the near tie between the gamecube and Xbox and shrink the gap it had with the Sony's marketshare. Well things didn't go as planned.Why?
    Why again the weakest console won? Do high end graphics only matter to a minority of people that buy games? If so why should Sony,Microsoft or Nintendo give a flying bagel about hardcore HD gamers when there are what 20 times as many casual gamers that just want a game they can pick-up play and be good at while getting ready for work or while tending children. Guess what Wii won the same way DS won. Women. Women classically never buy games. They are intimidated by them(too masculine) and like many people that play ANY game including sports,board games, card games, mind games....ok..back on topic...
    people like to win.

    They like to win and they like playing games that allow for them to win. Most games are too hard to play for a beginner.No one is going to dish out hundreds of dollars to lose and pay more money to lose. Unlike us(Were I train for hours sharpening my skills on parrying,teching on Street fighter 3 for mame) they don't have time to "learn" the game. They have lives. Sad thing is I want games to be hard and AI to be human-like and RTSes to span 100 online coop WITH human-like AI enemies or FPS were you got to plan out the mission and if you don't play it just right....you lose...you were not good enough.

    But I know thats not what the majority wants. We are fading fast. Wii is starting to become as popular as the Atari 2600 was(nearly still not main stream enough).
    Games are starting to NOT look like a joke/childish/shallow like in the past. I think people reasoned "well if we make them gory enough then they will take us seriously". Then when that failed to grasp we then thought "well if we make the games more and more like a lifelike simulation then we will be taken seriously."
    Recently that was foiled too. Seems everyone still wants a NES/Atari 2600 clone.
    People care more about games that they can play that are good and be good at while not there evaluating some grand theorem. Pretty simple people want good games how life-like it is has limited apeal.

    What does this say about modern video games?


    How can games get MORE mainstream?
     
  2. Rangers

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    First of all, I maintain the HD consoles appear less successful than they actually are by being split in two. However, if either PS3 or 360 didnt exist, almost everybody who bought one would buy the other (aka all current 360 owners would then own a PS3 instead, or vice versa).

    Lets look at a typical curren NPD:

    Wii=450k
    360=200k
    PS3=190k

    Now cue a lot of comments in message board threads about how incredibly successful Wii is,

    Imagine if we had two competitve waggle consoles, lets say we had the Apple wagglebox along with the Wii, and lets say, PS3 didn't exist , then a monthly NPD might look like this:

    360=390k (the combined PS360 sales from before)
    Nintendo Wii=260k
    Apple iWaggle=190k


    Now, in the sales are split exactly the same between waggle/low def and hardcore/hi def as before, but I think perceptions would be vastly different. Might people even call the Wii and iWaggle failures, while the hardcore/360 is declared the winner? When in reality they would just be splitting the exact same market as before!.

    Another way to express that is as of last quarter worldwide, combined PS360 had shipped about 35 million consoles, where Wii was about 30 million IIRC. Now, Wii is supply constrained in certain countries, and 360 launched a year early, so it's not an entirely fair comparison, nonetheless, the two camps are much closer to a 50/50 split than Wii domination!

    Next, lets look at hyped blockbusters, and especially third party games. How many games are likely to sell 1 million+ (worldwide) this holiday that arent first party Wii games? Well on PS360, Gears 2, Fable 2, Banjo N&B, Far Cry 2, Star Wars FU, Mirrors Edge, LBP, Resistance 2, Dead Space, Rock Band, Guitar Hero, etc. On Wii? Probably just Star Wars FU and Rock Band/Guitar Hero. Other than that the same handful of Nintendo games will garner all the sales on Wii.

    The point is all the hyped third party and just in general guaranteed sellers remain on the hardcore side. Do you think Epic regrets not focusing on the Wii? Nope, their decision was the only one possible, and is validated every day, and they are becoming extremely rich by choosing the HD side, and will sell 6 million+ copies of Gears 2 for certain. Do you think ID wants to build for Wii? Nope again, Rage, another big budget huge seller hyped title is HD only.

    I just think the "young male hardcore" demographic is:

    A) larger than people in this debate give it credit for

    B ) not going away or getting smaller somehow

    C) never going to choose casual games en masse (at least to the exclusion of hardcore FPS etc)

    D) far more dependable and hardy than the casual demographic. They will be there for every Halo, making sure it sells millions. The casuals are by nature more flighty and unpredictable imo.

    Looking at point A, I think to movies, the single demographic summer blockbusters, that most mainstream fare, aims for the most is young males. Thats an outside example of the power of that demographic. In fact I'd bet that demographic drives advertising in general more than any other.

    Looking to last gen, PS2 was NOT a casual console, it was a hard core console with a complex controller, yet it shipped 140 million consoles worldwide.

    So overall, I think casual is successful and very well might be here to stay which is neither here nor there, the mistake imo is assuming the hardcore will ever go away, be swamped out of existence by the casual masses, or that the hardcore alone is not a HUGELY lucrative market that ought to be fought for. It's a market that made videogames as big as movies and all that jazz, before the Wii ever existed.
     
    #2 Rangers, Oct 3, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 3, 2008
  3. ShadowRunner

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    I dont think you can draw too many solid conclusions just yet with regards to the wii's success, with regards to casual vs hardcore HD consoles anyhow. If you look at the actual sales the split is pretty equal its just that the HD console audience is split between what are too very similar consoles, if there was only one in that space things would look totally different.

    Wii's success is entirely down to the accessability of the controls in my view and the advertisements showing it. If the wii kept the same controller + wii sports but was HD and had the same library of games as the 360/PS3 i believe the wii would be doing even better! Thus i dont thing you can really even say it is down to the casual games. The women/oldies buying it are not buying it because they want a console to play casual games that arnt too hard on, over a normal 'hardcore' console.
     
  4. ShadowRunner

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    Exactly my thoughts too.

    I would even go as far as saying the casual market is much less sustainable too. How many of these new gamers bought in by the wii are going to stay gaming? If none of the consoles next gen can come up with something totally inovative how are these people going to be pulled in again?
     
  5. NeoTechni

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    Low Cost+Gimmick to appeal to uninformed massed(replace button mashing with controller waving)+Lying to said masses about how "processing power only affects graphics"

    Frankly, it's done a disservice to every pre-existing gamer. I'll never forgive it for screwing us out of a Dead Rising sequel for at least 2 more years.
     
  6. Laa-Yosh

    Laa-Yosh I can has custom title?
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    The reason is simple, the PS2 user base was a lot more varied than most people think. For every Gran Turismo, GTA and Finan Fantasy that sold 5-10 million copies, there were at least a dozen casual games selling 500K-1 million. Most games haven't even reached more than 5% of the total user base.

    With the Wii, a lot of the PS2's market was taken over by Nintendo. Another part was taken over by the X360, and now we no longer have a single system with a monopoly over the market. I strongly believe that this is good, certainly better than giving all the power to any of the console makers. So there's no need to worry at all.
     
  7. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    Using Laa-Yosh as a jumping point...

    Of course the reverse is that publishers have to be vary careful what platforms they release titles for and what features they include. With the PS2 you just released EVERYTHING on it and it sold. Now a company like EA makes a multi-hundred million dollar investment (over a number of years) into a franchise like Madden and it bombs on the Wii and sells gangbusters on the other platforms. And then you have the consumer dilemma: what if your interests (personal, or "household") span across more than one core demographic? Buy 2 consoles?

    So on the one hand having 1 console to rule them all means less power to persued the console maker to cater to your needs, on the other hand there is less doubt and more security.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out next round. Consumers are very, very fickle. Nintendo and Sony have both looked unstoppable in the past and both have been humbled at least once now. I agree with a lot of Ranger's commentary and think it would be a huge mistake to assume that there has been a swing toward casual gamers as I think the issue is we finally had a bit of disparity in console products (marketing, games, hardware, pricing, features, services, etc) that resulted in demographic stratification we hadn't seen before.

    While I don't believe the current rumor of a "PS3.5" if that comes true that means whoever aims "relatively high" in regards to hardware and keeps the price at/under $399 at launch would have prime pickings for the hardcore market (which buys a lot of software, active in consumables online, etc). And while game development costs continue to rise (something EVERY console must address... although the "just don't improve the HW!" approach is a longterm FAIL) there is a market of games that continue to sell multi-million copies in this market.

    I wouldn't be surprised if we saw "blockbuster" game pricing go up to $70 next gen and potentially some price staggering (casual titles in the $40-$50 range for example) and where we see a more Hollywood revenue model where we see some cheaper games at cheaper prices and for premium content you pay a premium. DLC and post release support, 1st owner specific content to discourage resale, membership fees, and trying to minimize "2 or 3 big games supporting all the flops" as well as minimizing the effect of the unknowns of marketshare fallout (besides Teasy and Natoma, who predicted "Revolution" would win this round of console unit sales in early 2005?!!) A number of publishers have been hit pretty hard this generation because they bet wrong in regards to demographics and platform leadership.

    Per the Wii, I think Nintendo did a great job of coming in much cheaper than the competition at launch, was completely different, was "accessible" to a wide range of consumers and "family friendly" and (a) marketed it as such (b) had the software to back it up and (c) the press got behind it. People "got it" 15 minutes into trying it. It had the wow factor that the old, old consoles had before there was such a thing--it sucks consumers in. Every couple generations a new concept emerges that "revitalizes" the industry and allows it to appeal to new consumers. Sometimes this comes in a big way, others not so much (e.g. the Xbox and 360 with a HDD, then Live, and then HD in conjunction with strong PC dev support really migrated a lot of PC gamers to the console market). The PS3 and 360 chose more incrimental routes of wowing consumers, and the Wii took a huge, huge gamble.

    The Wii-mote could have flopped.

    Instead it caught fire and it became the "it" gift. And Nintendo played this up--just look at production. I know people who spent nearly 2 years looking for a Wii! This gave off a perception that it was such a hot item that it kept the item in mind as well as desirable.

    What is interesting is how Nintendo did this. They obviously are not competiting in a number of markets or features. e.g. The Wii's online play is pretty poor compared to the original Xbox in regards to what "hardcore gamers" desire. Even MP3, maybe the Wii's best FPS, lacks online play. The Wii conceeds a lot of traditional titles and genres and definately sells towards its strengths (which happens to be Nintendo style software). Something old, something new, something different. But Nintendo identified that the casual market they could capture was larger then competing for the "hardcore" consumers MS/Sony would be fighting over. So while MS/Sony would BS about PR specs and pixel counting to convince a demographic which platform to buy Nintendo was VERY focus with their marketing and they went for the market MS/Sony neglected.

    MS's/Sony's casual game portfolio from internal studios is pretty pathetic. And while the casual library in general is underestimated I don't see why casual consumers should know this (just walk past a kiosk or a display case and see what I am talking about).

    Further, Sony and MS have been pretty inept in some ways. Sony came in at $600, a year late, inferior products and ports, a press roll of bad news, firings of key Playstation personel, a bitter optical format war that looked uncertain, and a general sense of over selling and under providing (both units and software). And then the bad news set in that the PS3 was selling poorly and it snowballed. Software was delayed, and delayed... and delayed. Devs complained, huge titles bombed, Sony marketing continued to stink. They were a year late, half baked, and left a bad taste. Things have leveled out, but without the Playstation brand and huge PS2 sales there is no doubt the PS3 would have been put out to die a long time ago. MS started off well, but had a bit of shortages... and then RROD set in. Their two year plan seemed to fade as RROD killed them internally which in turn affected process shrinks. MS saw a continued trend of software slippage and have appeared content for over a year now to just ride the wave of their launch. Snag a few titles here and there, make money, continue the Xbox brand strength in English territories and allow the launch push fall to the way side everywhere else. MS has built headway with Live but they seem pretty content not losing to Sony moreso than pushing for market leadership (too expensive due to past blunders??) The fact it took them almost 3 years to drop 33% in retail pricing pretty much sums up how their early push turned into "damage control! don't let the ship sink! ride the wave!" mentality.

    So while MS and Sony were erroding consumer confidence with all this mess (I didn't even mention confusing them with multi-skews and the impression of the affordable ones, which were still very expensive, as being inferior for gaming) Nintendo hit home:

    They were cheap.
    They had a specific market in mind.
    They were unique.
    They had a single voice.
    They had a pack-in title people "got."
    They connected with their market.

    The irony is that after a decade of being plastered with the kiddie console tag, Nintendo embraced it with a spin: they are the "everyone" console, the non-gamer gamer console, the family friendly play with your kids and grandma console. And they had a history of titles like Mario (+ Party, +Kart, etc) and so forth to connect with that market. They had a heavy handed history of removing "progressive" boundary pushing features/games (like blood in MK) and didn't have any association with games like Grand Theft Auto. What was hurting them turned into a strength with the Wii.

    The hardware and software sales show that not everyone matches to the Nintendo beat--but that is the point. They didn't try to be everything to everyone. By not competiting with Sony and MS they beat Sony and MS.

    But the market is fickle and the question is: what will consumers want in 3-4 years? Sony and MS will reel in costs. Both will have waggle. Both will be more conscious of casual gamers.

    People are still going to want their Halos, Final Fantasys, GTAs, Maddens, Gears of Wars, Guitar Heros, and so forth. The technology hurdles next gen do offer some issues as well as some oppurtunities.

    But just following the Wii formula isn't a sure win; if 2 companies go that route that leaves the other to reap the sizable hardcore market. The question is can one maker consolidate the markets? Is there enough segmentation of 3 distinct markets? Is it better to have 2 unique cheaper consoles and 1 hardcore console? How much will features and services tied into other media distribution channels play into this? Will we finally see a console be a multifunctional device in terms of computing (we are almost there with browsers and Google Docs)? What happens when a console turns into a VoIP phone, TV/Movie distribution device, gaming center, basic computing device, etc i.e. a real digital hub? How do you market this? How much value does it have? How much does it hurt NOT to have these features? If you lack these features what PRICE do you have to enter with? What market do you need to hit?

    I think old formulas do not apply. BDR hasn't driven mass PS3 success to historical levels (although it has surely helped the PS3 a lot since it beat HD DVD). I think the general rule is: the business is a crapshoot. You need smart people with a lot of intuition and some luck to get it right.

    One trend I do see is a growing focus on relationships; services like XBL and PSN being to establish company-consumer relationships. How many Live customers would jump to the Wii2 or PS4 knowing they would lose their achievements, XBLA games, downloaded movies, etc? In this regards we may see some stability in consumer affiliation.
     
  8. ninzel

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    They focused on affordability and fun.
     
  9. RobertR1

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    Focus: Sony and MS were trying to sell on value as in sums of service and usability. This makes for a mixed marketing campaign. Nintendo simply went with "gaming is fun. our console will show you."

    Wii Sports: This one is often looked but is very much the key. Having Wii sports included in every console sold (atleast in the US) re affirmed the marketing push and most importantly defined the console's identity. There was no argument as to what the Wii is or was trying to be. Wii Sports defines the console for the masses. Damn brilliant move!

    Innovation: Allowing people to pick up gaming easier by the way of the waggle. The 360 and PS3 controller equate to 11 buttons, a d pad and 2 thumbsticks which can be clicked down for additional functionality. While we're well used to all of that the average person is rather intimidated by it. I can teach a person to play SMG or Wii Sports in a fraction of the time it's take me to explain them the button arrangement on popular 360 and PS3 titles.

    Price: coming in at $249 is the icing on the cake.

    Sticking to the plan: Nintendo continues to stick which was has worked. They keep producing games that push their very clear and focused message to the masses: Pick up the Wii and we'll always have fun games for you. Take Mario Kart Wii for example. Here's a game that ANYONE can pick up. They could have went towards a more complex setup with the controller but instead they released a Wheel mock up and let people simply enjoy the game.

    Like it or not, the Wii has hit home runs on many fronts when it comes to success in the market.
     
  10. fearsomepirate

    fearsomepirate Dinosaur Hunter
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    You can always make a highly successful product look less successful by combining the sales of all its competitors. The iPhone is not nearly as successful as all the non-iPhones put together, for example.

    Wii is the #1-selling console because it's satisfying consumer demand in ways that the 360 and PS3 don't. The HD twins' design is based on the assumption that the fundamental thing everyone wants is more power. Sure, there is a number of people who do want that, but there is also a large number of people for whom that's not as important, who are vastly overshot by the HD twins' capabilities, for whom last-gen graphics were already "good enough," the way SNES 2D graphics were "good enough." Nintendo approached those overshot customers in a broad way:

    1. The motion control offered a "fun" and "surprise" factor that the other consoles couldn't match.
    2. The downmarket price gave it instant appeal among people who weren't going to be approachable by Sony or MS for a number of years.
    3. The remote design removed the "intimidation" factor that kept non-gamers or lapsed gamers from even picking up on gaming.
    4. The emphasis on social software gave it a living room/party appeal that the "Screw same-screen gaming, online gaming is the only thing that matters!" approach of many developers on the HD consoles totally lacks.
    5. The Virtual Console strategy, which is organized and promoted by Nintendo in a manner much different than XBLA, gives it a pretty strong nostalgia appeal for lapsed gamers that MS is only recently trying to combat seriously.

    It's basically a successful application of the disruption strategy (which is what Nintendo's been saying over and over again--I find it strange that when talking about how Nintendo is winning, no one believes that their strategy has anything to do with it). Over the coming years, they're going to be moving upmarket and grabbing more and more tiers of consumers.

    Those of you saying it's because Nintendo is dishonest or customers are stupid don't get it. Never, ever blame the customer for why one product is vastly more successful than another. That's the sure-fire ticket to bankruptcy (or marginalization at best).
     
  11. Laa-Yosh

    Laa-Yosh I can has custom title?
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    As good as the Wii sells at the moment, I wouldn't draw any final conclusions just yet. There are tens of millions of customers who still haven't decided and we don't know what they're looking for. They could be after a cheaper HD console. Then again they could be after a cheaper Wii as well - so let's just wait and see.
     
  12. Flux

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    In 2011 nintendo releases a HD console that is slightly more powerful than PS3 while vastly less powerful than "720" or "PS4".The profit margin on the console could be very thin with higher licensing fees. The experience can be tiered DS--->Wii--->N6.

    They can start the same scheme they tried with Wii and DS....only this time on a HD console.
     
  13. joker454

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    Personally I think Nintendo decided to smartly tap the untapped market, namely women. Women have played console games before, but the Wii is the first tv console in recent memory (if ever) that has directly targeted them. The side benefits of the female gaming audience are many, include not needing a 20+ million dollar budget to please them, and not needing money losing hardware to get them interested. In addition, women are excelling in school better than men nowadays, so in the long term women may very well have the most disposable income, making them an even more lucrative audience to target.

    I think Nintendo is just ahead of the game on targeting the female audience. I totally expect many other industries to change to that as well, such as the auto industry, stores, etc. I also expect that women will have a direct impact on the designs of the Xbox 720 and PS4. None of this implies that the hardcore gamer will be ignored, they will always have products for them. But the female gaming audience is pure gold right now. It's expanding fast, has high profit margins and low risk.
     
  14. RancidLunchmeat

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    Except, using that time line, the 360 and PS3 will still be selling while the Wii is unlikely to still have any sort of significant sales.

    In short, as Laa-Yosh said, it's way to early to declare a 'winner' in this generation. The 360 and PS3 will have far longer legs than the Wii. This isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. Especially when you consider how well the PS2 was still selling in the initial launch window and when you consider the "720" or "PS4" are likely to be equally expensive (comparably).
     
  15. RobertR1

    RobertR1 Pro
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    The downsides of internet porn are finally showing their head :(
     
  16. obonicus

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    Nintendo's gone for a more scattergun approach in their casual appeal. Wii Fit is the only one that really is targeted towards women, and even then it's targeted at women in general, not a specific demographic. There's the 18-35 female demographic that is still mainly uncatered to, and they do have plenty of disposable income. Not sure how to get to them, but I don't think Wii Music is it.
     
  17. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    I can tell you one way Nintendo has nailed women: software. It just isn't the hardware (accessibility and ease of use) but the software lineup. There is a robust market of thinking games as well as social games--especially those that can be played with children. The number of 4 players games on the other consoles that are family friendly is pretty pathetic. Women tend to be the primary care givers of children and the Nintendo marketing, hardware, and software definately attracts as much attention from this market as much as the chainsaw-the-enemy and rape-and-kill-the-prostitute high exposure games on the other platforms turns many of the same away from those platforms.

    I know MS spent a lot of time talking about the Xbox 360 becoming this social phenomina where 1B people play it yada yada yada but I don't think they ever really considered the depth of their library and market approach in this equation. As gaming as become less nerdy/hardcore there has become more of a social conscious in regards to the games in many ways. While GTA may be old hat to gamers I think there is a long road ahead for that to become a social norm where moms sit down with their children and bust some caps. As gaming has extended its reach into the family more family friendly gaming is needed and that is something Nintendo has in spades. And I think this appeals to parents, and mothers in particular. I am not sure there are these quantum shifts in the gaming world and demographics and whatnot (it would be nice to see some really in-depth data) but we do know that gaming is growing as a social medium and as the "gaming generation" of the 70s, 80s, and 90s is having their own children and extending their hobby to their progeny that there are these sorts of issues.
     
  18. obonicus

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    I was referring to software (well, Wii Fit as software). And what you're pointing out are family-friendly games, games for parents. They have success, more than the competition, no doubt, they just aren't focused. Their approach is 'casuals', which is almost equivalent to 'pop'.

    I'm referring to games for the female equivalent of gaming's main demographic: 18-35, single, with lots of disposable income. As far as gaming's concerned, these women don't even exist.
     
  19. fearsomepirate

    fearsomepirate Dinosaur Hunter
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    No, their approach is "people whose needs aren't met by chainsaws and huge explosions." Lumping them all in as "casual" is a massive oversimplification--one Nintendo never uses because that's not their strategy.
     
  20. Silent

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    Did anybody read the book "Emotional Design: Why we love or hate everyday things" from Donald Norman? It has been a long time since I've have finished reading that book, but if I'm not mistaken their is a small part in a chapter where the author describes the fact that videogames where always target at a group of fanatic gamers.

    He was describing a hypothetical videogamesystem targeted to the general public. A group which he stated is much bigger then the fanatic gamers. When thinking at the success of the Wii that part of the book always comes to my mind.
     
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