Nintendo's executives are a sharp bunch. They're so sharp, in fact, that they can look ahead and see a day coming sooner rather than later that sales for the Wii drop off and never recover. How can Nintendo ramp up another holiday season for Wii hardware when pretty much everyone who wants one owns one by now? Where does the company go from here? Brad Hilderbrand at Games Are Evil has a few choice quotes from Nintendo president Satoru Iwata about the Wii's retirement plans.
“Accordingly, when our consumers are ready to select what they want to purchase for a Christmas gift, how we can encourage them to choose Wii, has now become important. In other words, we do not have the mindset that our home game console business will not see any further growth so therefore, we have to do something to sustain the sales,” said Iwata in a conference call.
“Having said that, however, in that critical sales season, if everything doesn’t go ahead just as we hope, and if we do not do anything about it, our platform business will be in trouble. We will need to prepare for such situations.”
Though the Wii burst out of the gate sales-wise, things have slowed recently as market saturation has begun to set in. While the Wii was a hot commodity its first couple years on the market, once supply caught up with demand and the allure of the console’s motion controls wore off things began taking a turn. Nintendo is now finding that the casual market they’ve worked so hard to court up to now can be a fickle group, and with hardcore gamers choosing the Xbox 360 or PS3 over the Wii Nintendo finds itself in a strangely vulnerable position.
Ready for some personal speculation? Nintendo squeezes one more quality holiday season out of the Wii with new high profile titles like Kirby's Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and even Wii Party. Next year we see the Nintendo 3DS take over the spotlight, and once The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is with us, we start to see Nintendo's priorities shift. The 3DS becomes the main focus as the Wii quietly sails off into the sunset with a bevy of Player's Choice titles and hardware price cuts seeing it off just before we start to hear about the inevitable Super Wii or whatever they plan to call it. Does this sequence of events sound a little familiar? It should. It's what Nintendo did to retire the GameCube and introduce the original DS to the world. We were so occupied with the handheld system that the home console slipped away unhindered. My belief is that it's all poised to happen again.