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Thread: Once-hot Nintendo Wii now struggling for sales

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    Default Once-hot Nintendo Wii now struggling for sales

    Nintendo Wii's sales decline has some wondering if the game's over - latimes.com

    The video-game console has fallen to No. 3 from No. 1 in U.S. sales this year, and two game makers say they'll focus on competitors. But the company's U.S. chief insists there's still a significant market.

    By Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times

    November 30, 2010

    At Next-Gen Video Games in the Mid-Wilshire district, it has been two months since a customer bought a Nintendo Wii, the console that became a sensation for letting players swing a virtual tennis racket or steer a virtual car with a flick of the wrist.

    Owner Jeff Bryson has three on hand for the holiday season, significantly fewer than last year, and he's not even sure he'll find buyers for those.

    "The Wii has really slowed down," Bryson said on a recent evening in his store. "It's tough to sell."

    Just three years ago, Nintendo Co.'s video-game device was nearly impossible to find, as hard-core gamers clamored for it along with novices, including families with young children and grandparents drawn to its easy-to-use wand. From January 2007, just after it launched, until last May, the Wii was the top-selling game console nearly every month in the U.S.

    But things have taken a decided turn. The Wii fell to No. 3 from No. 1 this year, with U.S. sales in the first 10 months down 24% from the same period a year earlier. Sales of Microsoft Corp.'s rival Xbox 360 are up 34%, and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 has risen 14%.

    Games for the device are on a similar downward slope. Electronic Arts Inc. recently told investors that Wii game sales outside of Japan fell 34% in the recent quarter and are expected to be "down sharply" for the full year. Many who have bought a Wii appear to be letting it gather dust rather than buying new games.

    "The success of the Wii has been bound in large part to people who enjoyed it as a fad and have now moved on," said Marc Jackson, chief executive of video-game finance and consulting firm Seahorn Capital.

    Manufacturers of successful consoles such as Sony, with the PlayStation 2, made their biggest profits from royalties on games made by other publishers for their device. But Nintendo isn't seeing the same benefit. That's one reason the Japanese company recently slashed its revenue forecast for the current fiscal year by 21%.

    "The success of the Wii was amazing, but as of late the company is not profiting from that success," said Matt Jacobs, an analyst with ITG Investment Research.

    The Wii's dominance before 2010 can hardly be understated. After Nintendo's last console, the GameCube, lingered in third place, the company shocked many in the industry in 2006 with the Wii, which was less powerful than competing machines but introduced a motion-sensing wand instead of relying upon the traditional pressing-button controller. It was an immediate hit, selling 74 million units worldwide.

    That success came largely from an untapped market: infrequent game players. But infrequent game players by definition also don't make for repeat customers when it comes to buying new Wii games. They're also the ones whose attention has recently turned to online social games such as Farmville.

    Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime noted that despite the downshifting momentum, the Wii has in total sold far more units and games than its competitors.

    He also asserted that there is still a significant market left for Nintendo devices. "The back half of any system cycle always attracts a higher proportion of buyers who are concerned with price, ease of use and group play. [T]his late-adopter group is the next audience for the Wii," he said in an e-mailed statement.

    During the week of Thanksgiving, Nintendo sold 600,000 Wiis in the U.S., up from 550,000 in 2009.

    At the same time, Microsoft and Sony are targeting that same market with new accessories for their consoles. Microsoft's Kinect, which has a camera that tracks players' movements and doesn't require a controller, has sold more than 2.5 million units in less than a month. It's nearly impossible to find on store shelves and is going for as much as $250 on EBay, compared with a retail price of $150.

    Nintendo's Fils-Aime also predicted at a recent investors conference that game sales for the Wii would pick up during the holiday season. There are a handful of new high-profile titles for the system, including Nintendo's Donkey Kong Country Returns, Disney's Epic Mickey and THQ's Udraw, a tablet for the Wii on which players can draw for games like Pictionary.

    "If you make unique and innovative games that speak directly to the Wii audience, you can succeed," said Brian Farrell, chief executive of THQ.

    Most outside game publishers have all but given up on the system, however. EA and Activision Blizzard Inc., the two biggest in the U.S., now emphasize to investors that they are focusing on games for Wii's competitors.

    "The industry's interest in the Wii has been like a roller coaster," said Joe Minton, president of DDM, an agency that helps sell the game studios' ideas to game publishers. "First they ignored it, then there were a few successes and they all tried to get on it. Then a lot of games failed and so there has been a pullback."

    Nor are game developers themselves overly eager to focus on the Wii.

    "When you have an original idea, you want the best platform with the most cutting-edge technology to showcase it," said Jason Alejandre, president of Tarzana-based Game Mechanic Studios. "That's one reason most developers prefer not to work on the Wii."

    In a recent research note, Cowen & Co. analyst Doug Creutz predicted Wii sales would continue to slump and said it "is likely to remain a drag on overall software sales over the next year."

    But industry insiders say it's a mistake to count Nintendo out. This winter the company will debut the 3DS, a mobile 3-D device that was a sensation at the E3 industry conference. "The 3DS will sell like crazy," predicted game-store owner Bryson.

    And though it's not clear how Nintendo will escape its spiral in the console business, the company has faced such doubts before.

    In early 2006, with the GameCube struggling and the Wii raising eyebrows for its funny name and lack of power, some in the industry said Nintendo should abandon the console business altogether. They were soon eating their words.

    "Nintendo is contrarian by nature and they always seem to have a longer-term plan than their competitors," Jackson said. "I'm sure they're figuring out what to do next and it's going to surprise everyone."

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    Gold Member eboni's Avatar
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    Wonder how cheaply I can get one. Would love to use one for working out.
    ...Stopped smoking on March 8, 2011. Was trying to put a fancy ticker in my signature but it didn't work...

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    I'm still buying Wii games for my kids. The latest one was "Legos Harry Potter, Years 1-4".

    Another guilty pleasure is the arcade-based zombie-shooting "House of the Dead", which plays PERFECTLY on a Wii.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eboni View Post
    Wonder how cheaply I can get one. Would love to use one for working out.
    me too! well, that and wasting time.

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    Elite Member Algernon's Avatar
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    We just sold ours with all the games (I can't remember how many...I am the only non-gamer of the family) for 250.00. That money is going toward a Kinect. The wii definitely was never a big hit at our house.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    The Kinect probably won't be a big hit either, from the review I saw:

    And that, unhappily, is where Kinect really deserves to be taken to task. Microsoft's marketing and Kinect's initial games lineup makes it clear that this is not a peripheral aimed at the hardcore crowd that makes up the 360's core install base; rather, this is meant to be a family friendly add-on, something that you can get your parents and kids involved with. So it's all the more infuriating that it does such a poor job of registering multiple users at once, thereby ruining its obviously huge potential as a 'party device' on the same level as the Wii.

    It's no coincidence that most of the so-called "multiplayer" titles for Kinect (like the otherwise really fun Dance Central from Harmonix) involve sequential play rather than true simultaneous multiplayer. Things do work decently if you go for simultaneous online play, but getting people together in the same room for some living room fun -- the same sort of fun that helped make the Wii such a powerhouse -- is impossible because the Kinect technology simply isn't capable of making it happen.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    All that motions sensing crap is bleh. Hardcore gamers don't want to whip a wand around and hopefully hit something.. they want the precision of a controller they can control much more delicately.

    Also, hardcore gamers didn't buy the damn Wii. Hardcore gamers looked at the Wii and laughed.

    It's processing power is what.. 10 years old at this point? It's a Gamecube with a wand. It looks like ass, performs like ass, and the game titles are ass.

    Nintendo would be in a much better position if they had put an actual top of the line processor in it to compete with xbox/PS3, which would attract more developers to make better games and the whole wand-waving experience worthwhile.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    All a faster processor does is generate polygons and shades faster for HD television. And that is all it has been for the past 10 years. If you are looking for a faster frame rate when running games at true 1080p and 720p resolution, then, and only then, do you need a faster processor.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Um no. they have more powerful processors altogether to crunch larger graphics computations in general, more complex graphics, more and smaller polygons, more detail, more depth.

    The Wii operates on the gamecube's processor. Even without an HD tv to show it, the processing power of the other 2 consoles vastly outstrip anything the Wii can offer up and as such have vastly more complex graphical abilities which are readily apparent. Hell, the Xbox and PS3 even came out before HD tv really took off.

    That's why Wii games look like ass, because they're geared for a 10 year old processor that can't handle modern graphics crunching.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    Um no. they have more powerful processors altogether to crunch larger graphics computations in general.

    The Wii operates on the gamecube's processor. Even without an HD tv to show it, the processing power of the other 2 consoles vastly outstrip anything the Wii can offer up and as such have vastly more complex graphics abilities.

    That's why Wii games look like ass, because they're geared for a 10 year old processor that can't handle modern graphics.
    That's what I was implying. If you want to use a video game at an HDTV native 720 or 1080 resolution, you need to have a PS3 or Xbox 360. On a non-HDTV, the graphics and processing power of the PS3 and Xbox 360 are not going to be evident because all three systems are producing graphics at the traditional TV's resolution. It's possible that the PS3 and Xbox 360 might show faster frame rates, but I haven't seen anything to support that yet.

    In addition, the Wii is a greener device -- with average wattage usage during gaming at something like 20 watts. The PS3 and Xbox 360, by contrast use 8x as much electrical power. Around 180 watts or more.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    On a non-HDTV, the graphics and processing power of the PS3 and Xbox 360 are not going to be evident because all three systems are producing graphics at the traditional TV's resolution.
    It's not a matter of resolution on a tv.

    Take a wii, an xbox and a PS3. Hook them up to a non HD tv. Note the superior graphics quality of the other consoles.

    It's how much the wii can crunch. even on a non HD tv, it still loses and looks like shit in comparison because it isn't CAPABLE of crunching as much.
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    Elite Member Novice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eboni View Post
    Wonder how cheaply I can get one. Would love to use one for working out.
    and despite Grims critique.... I was thinking the same thing too!
    Free Charmed.

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    Elite Member Laxmobster's Avatar
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    Well I still love my Wii but I'm also no hardcore gamer...A majority of items on my Xmas list is more Wii stuff. LOL

    Quote Originally Posted by MohandasKGanja View Post
    Another guilty pleasure is the arcade-based zombie-shooting "House of the Dead", which plays PERFECTLY on a Wii.
    My roommate bought this for me over 2 years ago and it sat unopened in my pile of games until this past summer. Now I can't get the boyfriend and his buds to stop playing it. I'm even a little addicted myself.
    Quote Originally Posted by Celestial View Post
    I also choose to believe the rumors because I am, when it is all said and done, a dirty gossip.

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    Gold Member eboni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Novice View Post
    and despite Grims critique.... I was thinking the same thing too!
    I found these links with pricing:
    www.instockonline.org
    Wii Console & Accessories - PriceGrabber.com

    Looks like the lowest price is $176.00...
    ...Stopped smoking on March 8, 2011. Was trying to put a fancy ticker in my signature but it didn't work...

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    It's not a matter of resolution on a tv.

    Take a wii, an xbox and a PS3. Hook them up to a non HD tv. Note the superior graphics quality of the other consoles.

    It's how much the wii can crunch. even on a non HD tv, it still loses and looks like shit in comparison because it isn't CAPABLE of crunching as much.
    I've seen the Wii, PS3, and Xbox360 all played at GameStop stores - with monitors pretty close to each other. I think for the majority of people, the difference in frame rate and resolution is not very discernible.

    You should have a smoother frame rate for Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles on a 480p tv because they should have processing power to spare over the Wii. But the Wii renders graphics at full 480p on a traditional tv, just like Xbox 360 and PS3 do.

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