Nintendo teach us all a lesson, again

This time it is called Wii Sports Resort, a collection of sports oriented mini games on the Wii. And it is selling something like a million units a week, in the dog days of summer. It will go on to become one of the best selling games of the year. How do they do this?

  • Universal appeal. I would not be ashamed to be seen playing this. But it would be a lot of fun for an 8 year old too.
  • Surprise and delight features. It takes imagination to come up with these, but they really add to the player experience. We need more of these in every game.
  • Polish, polish and polish. Why can’t other game developers and publishers do this? It doesn’t cost a lot of money, it just costs time. This really sets Nintendo first party apart.
  • Easy to get into. All great games are simple to start with. Chess, card games, scrabble and all the great classics do this. It is no good ramping the difficulty curve too steep too soon, you put off too many people. Think pick up and play accessibility, Nintendo do.
  • Difficult and rewarding in the higher levels. So it is worth putting time and effort into it. Just like chess etc etc.
  • Huge potential user base. There are about as many Wiis out there as there are Microsoft Xbox 360s and Sony Playstation PS3s put together. A lot of people who want good games to entertain them.
  • Release any time of year. Going with the Q4 crowd is idiotic when there are times you can have the market pretty much to yourself. People have money to spend all year round.
  • Build a brand, own your own IP. This is the obvious sequel to Wii Sports, itself a massive seller. Nintendo can milk this franchise forever. And they will.
  • Bundle with hardware that genuinely adds to the gaming experience. Wii MotionPlus takes Wii play to a higher level.

All the above is not rocket science, yet how come so many publishers still get it so wrong so often?


  1. “It doesn’t cost a lot of money, it just costs time”

    Time is money. You’re going to have to pay people to polish, polish, polish. A lot of games just don’t have the time and resources to do this.

  2. Not everyone agrees – I wouldn’t play this if you paid me. For your hardcore gamer the thought of all games being like this in the future sends fear down our spines.

  3. I also agree that time costs money. But some companies, notably Nintendo, budget for this. They will not release their big titles unless the developers have gone over it with a fine tooth comb. Some do it, and some don’t. Companies like Nintendo seem to always make money from their software regardless.

  4. I agree with BC, time is money. OK, polishing can be doine with a smaller team than development per se, but still costs an extra. Also, time to market might be critical for other financial reasons.

  5. I agree with Steven L. If this was all that was available in gaming, I would see no reason to buy a console. I would just play cards, or chess, or soccer, or whatever. That Wii game does not move me into an experience significantly different than I can have in any number of other ways. On the other hand, Bioshock or Killzone, for example, do.

    I admire Nintendo for its business success, but I am dismayed that these types of games are what people seem to want. Yuck! I want the Wii fans to have their games, but I pray that the game creators do not settle for that kind of gameplay to the exclusion of others.

  6. Nice to see you agree Evan. The two games which have given me most pleasure this generation are Fallout 3 and Mass Effect. Put each of these interactive masterpieces of storytelling and design next to Wii Sports Resort or, even more importantly the 99% of Wii software which is pure ‘shovelware’ and there is absolutely no comparison.

  7. Yes, Steven, those are terrific games. And I really have nothing against the Wii — I want people to have the games they like to play. I just worry a bit about development talent be shunted from the types of games I like to the Wii-type games. I wonder if kids raised on Wii will make the shift to more demanding games as they gain experience and, thereby, encourage an increase in those type games also?

  8. @Steven Leicester: A true “hardcore” gamer doesn’t care about the genre, platform, style of presentation or any other secondary factor if a game is interesting and enjoyable to play.

    The misappropriation of this term by American marketeers hoping to court 18-25 males (who ironically would have been called ‘casual gamers’ a few years ago – the people who buy FIFA and Need for Speed and aren’t aware of games that aren’t advertised in the mainstream) is frustrating.

    “Hardcore” appreciation of gaming has never been about treating games with cinematic pretentions as more worthy than experiential ones.

  9. I agree, time is money – but lets look at the fact that as Bruce stated, Nintendo has stolen the march on the other big two with their mass appeal, spending the money was worth it for them.
    Oh, and Steven, just to echo some of what Robin said…just what is a hardcore gamer? Someone who plays CS, WOW, or Fallout? If you think that defines a hardcore gamer, you are either very young (and never played on the bbs’s with a modem) or your focus is very narrow. A hardcore gamer is just that…someone who plays games or a particular game with passion and frequency. It doesn’t matter what game or platform. Playing FPS’s doesn’t make you more ‘hardcore’ than someone who plays solitare or Ziltch nine hours a day. Silly to say no comparison. Its about the enjoyment a gamer derives from the particular game. You derived a great deal from Fallout 3 or Mass Effect, that is excellent. Calling other games ‘shovelware’ just because you personally don’t like them is childish. My parents are in their sixties and have a Wii – they love the sports. Fallout 3 means nothing to them, and they wouldn’t cross the street to play it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great game Disagreement is fine…silly ‘elitist’ insults are not so much.

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