The arrival of the Wii in November 2006 marked the return of a gaming stalwart to industry prominence. Having struggled with its successors to the Super Nintendo, it seemed like the Big N had lost the golden touch and was struggling to regain its footing in a field it once dominated. The expansion of the video game industry into more mature fare coupled with Nintendo’s reluctance to embrace new technology delivered the perfect opening for Sony’s PlayStation and, later, Microsoft’s Xbox to come in and take a slice of the pie.
And take a slice they did – Sony not only displaced Nintendo entirely but nearly put the company into a position of irrelevance, a thought once impossible but increasingly likely given the PSX’s success.
As you can imagine, after the Gamecube failed to set the market on fire, Nintendo was looking to throw a hail Mary pass and throw it they did. The Nintendo Wii, in classic style, combined lower-end graphical capabilities with innovative new controls that transformed gaming from a sedentary sport to an activity.
Perhaps best exampled by Wii Sports, the Wii’s motion controls attempted to mimic real-world actions as closely as possible for an entirely new – and, most importantly, unique – console experience.
While many derided motion controls as a gimmick at first, Nintendo quickly proved them wrong and the Wii not only went on to become the go-top party console of the generation but also Nintendo’s single most popular home console of all time, falling only under the Nintendo DS and Game Boy in terms of total lifetime sales.
Not only did the Wii dominate the generation in which it competed but also it returned Nintendo to prominence in the video game world, inaugurating a miniature golden age for the maker in the process.
Because of its success, no console except for maybe the Super Nintendo and the original NES had so many classic, triple-A Nintendo titles available for it. Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports, Mario Kart, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess are just some of the blockbuster titles that came out for the console. Firing on all cylinders, the Wii also gained the attention and love of third-party developers who showered Nintendo with attention that the company hadn’t enjoyed since the early 1980s.
Though the Wii put Nintendo back into the game it also demonstrated the amazingly potent power of innovative, disruptive technologies. Competing against much more powerful systems with thoroughly more modern video games, the Nintendo Wii was able to carve out a niche for itself that happened to not only be the biggest but also grew the industry as a whole.
The Wii’s so-called catering to casuals helped bring in new crowds to gaming that had never participated before. T
Think senior citizens and Wii Bowling if you need an excellent example of that. But most importantly what the Wii showed the world was that it was important to not count a console manufacturer out of the running too soon. Had Nintendo heeded calls to drop out of the console race we may never have gotten the motion control and subsequent virtual reality revolutions that we are experiencing today.