Sunday, April 22, 2007


I must admit, I was highly skeptical when I first heard about Nintendo's new console. Nintendo planned to intentionally eschew the higher end hardware that Microsoft and Sony's new consoles were going to feature. Along with many others, I believed Nintendo was surrendering yet another round of the video game console wars to the deeper pockets at Sony and Microsoft.

However, when Nintendo started to release information on its new console, they made a compelling argument. The industry's focus had been on faster and faster hardware for years. There was little innovation in actual gameplay. The result was more expensive consoles, and prettier games. However, these games were really the same old thing we'd been playing for years. Nintendo pointed out that pretty graphics have little to do with how fun a video game is.

I know all about that, and have been saying the same thing for years. Most of my all-time favorite games aren't even 3d. Yet I suspected Nintendo was merely saying this because it couldn't compete with Sony and MS on the hardware front, and "fun games" was a convenient excuse. Who would argue that fun isn't important?

As it turns out, Nintendo pulled off a brilliant move, one that couldn't have been done without the big hardware guns at Sony and MS. Their $600 consoles and $60 games were pushing the casual gamers out of the market.

I grew up with video games. I played a TON of them as a kid, and continued throughout college. However, the last console I owned was an SNES. The Playstation was too expensive for me, and the PS2 even more so. Forget the PS3. I was only interested in it for resale.

The Nintendo Wii is the first video game console I've purchased since the SNES. They've managed to pull me back in the market. Even better news for Nintendo is that Hillary likes it.

And that's where Nintendo has really struck gold. Hillary used to play video games, but her interest in them was inversely proportional to the number of buttons on the controller. I can't say I blame her. When she saw me playing tennis, she wanted to play. We had a blast. She's better at it than I am. And she was really excited when I showed her that you can play Zelda on the Wii. The ORIGINAL Zelda.

While the hardcore gamers are definitely happy about the PS3 and Xbox 360's muscle, the Nintendo Wii offers something better for the much larger population of people who were left behind somewhere between the NES and the Playstation 2. It also offers something for the people who were never on board the video game train in the first place. While the hardcore gamer market is an important one, Nintendo hit a much larger piece of the pie with the Wii.

Leonardo DaVinci pretty much sums it up: " Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

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