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Wii U might save the console market as we know it

9/18/12 5:01pm
tl;dr

Please don't jump into the comments and hate. I didn't write this for a flame war, but  because those are my honest opinions. I am always up for conversation, but if it's not civilized, I am not doing it.

If you are a console-gamer, you might end up hating me at the end of this article, but I seriously think this could happen; the console market might die (it kind of deserves to) and Nintendo might have the right idea when it comes to saving its sorry ass.

Headlines Are My Weakness 64

It seems that the older I get, the more I need to defend Nintendo. I feel the need to start this article off by saying a few words about the guys. First off, I find it very interesting when people attack Nintendo for being “un-original” and recycling their old ideas. It’s interesting because Nintendo might be the most original first party big-ass company out there right now. They have more exclusive series’ than the other console-developers. A quick Wikipedia look made me count well over 10 whole franchises, only available on Nintendo consoles. I think that’s plenty.

 I especially noticed this backlash after the release of New Super Mario Bros. 2. “Oh dear, 3 similar games released in a 6-year fork? This is unacceptable!” They scream behind their Assassin’s Creeds (5 main games within 5 years) and Call of Duties (6 main games in 5 years). People who complain about stupid crap like that, also complain when Nintendo tries to prove these people wrong and does something new and amazing. The amount of hate for the Wii as of today is staggering.

Sure, it has its share of gripping problems, like the absence of good ports or a working online-system, but when it comes to local multiplayer- or single player-exclusives, you really can’t beat Nintendo. And say what you want, their hardware does exactly what they try to do. This is NOT an article about the good and the bad of the Wii, though. So forget all that. Now that we have all the Nintendo-haters sending their death-threats to me, we can continue to the problems of the console market of today and why Wii U might just save the poor thing.

Fix the Console Market

Oh, what fun! The ages old fight between the PC and the consoles. Let’s see how much more death threats I receive from this one! There was a time, when consoles could compete against computer-gaming. A magical time when the “sitting on a sofa”- and “holding a controller”-arguments were still valid. A time of not all games getting ported to every machine in existence. In that world, PC-gamers and console-gamers were different creatures with different tastes! It’s too bad that doesn’t matter anymore, and companies need to make it matter to keep consoles looking appealing and interesting enough to compete with the PC.

Let’s look at the aforementioned arguments and a few other ones as they are today. Both “I like to sit on a sofa” and “I like the feel of a controller” are ruined by the same counter-arguments. 90% of the games you would rather play on a controller, you can play with a controller. I use my 360-controllers more on my PC than on my 360. Yes, it might partly be because my Xbox 360 is a pile of crap and won’t work anymore, but the argument still stands.

Last time I played a game from a other side of the room, was a few days ago when I was playing Driver: San Francisco with a controller, on my PC, while laying on my bed 5 meters away, and you know what? It worked perfectly. The only difference to a console version was that I had a fully operating web browser behind one button-press and all the other bonuses that come with PC gaming, like superior graphics that look splendid on my 40” television that I use for my console-games as well. Oh yes, your computer is one HDMI-connection away from the same TV-gaming experience many console gamers call the reason why they prefer their playboxes.  

The main reason why people use consoles over PC’s, however, is the simplicity. Why would you want the hassle of PC gaming with its one-use-codes, DRM, patch-downloading and installation? See this is where the console-market is dropping the ball. It’s not the simpler option anymore. Every single one of those horrible, consumer-hating features are now prominent on the consoles.  Funny enough, those things have snuck up on us within the last 6 or so years and some of the rumors floating around about the next Xbox and PS are hinting that they will be continuing that sneak. If the next generation won’t play used games, is there anything consoles have over PC’s? They aren’t even more reliable anymore. Just look at the 360 release!

Things are looking grim for consoles. All of the great things they do, PC does as well, but PC also offers better flexibility on graphics and controls, mod-community, free online and command console-possibilities. Consoles have all the difficulties that PC’s have without all the positives. I speculate that the consumers will slowly move to PC when they start noticing the differences. Nintendo, however, is an innovator and it might just have what the industry needs to keep the consoles going.

Forced Wii-U Pun

Nintendo is an interesting beast. While their innovation was loved and appreciated in the 80’s and 90’s, the love slowly died down due to them doing what they always do, innovate.  I agree that the stick-waggling of the Wii isn’t optimal and it’s not my favorite controller at all, but you can’t disrespect Nintendo for trying. Geniuses are remembered for their mistakes, not their triumphs. The controller of the Wii and the Virtual Boy are all things to be remembered, sure, but I think it only shows Nintendo’s will to innovate. While those were both failed experiments, let me remind you of the following: analog sticks on home-consoles, shoulder-buttons and triggers, arcade sticks for home consoles and the directional pad.

The innovator is always made fun of and ridiculed, but every now and then, they get something right. What follows, is another step in the evolution of the industry. As it stands right now, the console market is in dire need of an evolution. Despite all the hate for the “gimmick”, sometimes you need something utterly ridiculous, like a controller formed from a giant screen, to move the industry forward. If it doesn’t move, it will be stomped by the PC-side. The consumers will move over to them, because they offer the same things, just better and the consoles will end up dying, aside from the handhelds, which are busy getting slaughtered by smartphones.

Nintendo are doing their best at trying new things, because the console-market needs those “new things” in order to survive all the bullshit Microsoft and Sony have been piling on top of it since the start of this generation. I love my PS3 and I still play it frequently. I loved my 360 before it died on me months after the purchase, but neither of those things are more convenient, fun or easy than playing the same games, plus a ton more on the PC. Nintendo knows that they need to do something the PC can’t do if they want to keep the customers coming. I applaud that and I am very interested in seeing if it will even succeed!

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