Wii released 10 years ago


On November 19, 2006, Nintendo released its controversial Wii console in North America. While applauded by fans for its unique approach to game controls, the Wii had plenty of fair criticisms as well.

Unlike other consoles before, the Wii’s main controller looked like a TV remote, hence the name “Wiimote.” The Wiimote offered only two main face buttons, a directional pad and a trigger underneath. Additionally, the Wii Nunchuck attached to the main controller and provided the traditional analog stick and two more triggers on top.

Oh, and motion controls. Yes, the Wiimote worked along with a sensor connected to the Wii. This meant, in theory, games would become more realistic and encourage real-life motions to play. For example, instead of pushing a button to swing a sword in the Zelda launch title Twilight Princess, gamers could swing the Wiimote. The Wiimote could also be used as a mouse of sorts with its pointer functionality, and this helped first-person shooters such as Call of Duty and Metroid Prime.

Furthermore, Nintendo chose a good year to showcase an experimental console.

Sony, the video game industry leader after the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 were both successful, awkwardly switched into defense mode after a poor presentation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles. Besides the $599 price point for the upcoming PlayStation 3, people were simply not impressed by the games shown on stage.

In addition, Sony had a sense of arrogance about them which turned off a few people.

“The next generation doesn’t start until we say it does,” declared Kaz Hirai, the president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, at E3.

Gamers saw Nintendo as the little guy attempting to topple Goliath with their Wii console, an ironic statement considering Nintendo was the gaming industry’s Goliath for quite some time until they released the Nintendo 64.

Subsequently, despite a launch void of a proper Mario title, the $250 Wii started off as a hot holiday item. In place of Mario, the aforementioned Twilight Princess took the torch as the “must-have” game at release. Plus, every Wii came packaged with Wii Sports, which helped Nintendo push their blue ocean strategy of attracting non-gamers.

Numerous mainstream press outlets reported on the Wii phenomenon.

“Nintendo Co.’s entry into the game console wars, the Wii, went on sale Sunday, and quickly sold out in many stores despite stocks that far surpassed those of the rival PlayStation 3, which went on sale two days earlier,” wrote Peter Svensson in a widely circulated Associated Press article.

As for the major knock against the Wii, it lacked major support from third-party developers. This flaw began to show over time as the PS3 eventually lowered in price and picked up steam, while the Wii arguably struggled years later.

Also, the Wii lacked a DVD player and HD graphics.

“[There were] Tough choices about not including a DVD player at the start, tough choices about not including high-definition capability at the start. That’s because we wanted a mass-market price, and we believe the market will validate those decisions come launch day,” Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Aime said in the same article.

Still, the Wii did attract new gamers with Wii Sports, and later on Wii Fit. It also inspired “copycat” motion controls from Sony and Microsoft, although they were not able to capture the same fire Nintendo initially began.

The Wii, originally codenamed the Revolution, was in fact a revolutionary console for its time. It showed that, if done properly, a console does not need the best graphics to sell. Rather, a unique idea and decent games will go a long way.

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