[qi:002] We all love the Wii — gamers, game developers, marketers — in theory, anyway. But mine has been collecting dust since the spring, and the ardor of developers has cooled as well.
Sure, there was Metroid Prime — an excellent game, the first solid shooter for the console, but decidedly not the type of game that will please those housewives and grandfathers featured in Wii’s much-touted advertising campaign. The same goes for the charming but hardcore Super Mario Galaxy, due to be released in North America on Monday. But there are nearly 5 million Wiis out there in North America alone, and 13.5 million worldwide. What are all those Wii owners going to play?
Here are three ways Nintendo can bring the Wii back to the party this winter:
1. Launch third-party titles that appeal to the casual gaming sector. Eidos CTO Julien Merceron warned today that if third-party titles don’t sell well this holiday season, developer support for the platform could falter. That’s actually fine — get the heavy-hitting major studios out of there and make room for some indie development, for studios working on casual games, and for ports of popular PC titles. Bring those types of titles to the Virtual Console. Make some of them free. Just get people excited about the console again.
2. Explore more robust community features. In an effort to maintain market relevance (I presume), Nintendo today announced a nifty little feature called “Check Mii Out.” Miis, for the uninitiated, are the cute avatars that represent you to your friends’ lists via the console’s WiFi connection. “Check Mii Out” comes off a bit like a “Hot or Not” for the geek gamer set — browse through the avatars, select ones you like, and stalk them — er, add them to your “favorites” list. It’s a step in the right direction, but a mere baby step. Wii needs to do something really unique here to set it apart from PlayStation Home and Xbox Live. Give the players more ways to interact with one another.
3. Make Wii Sports 2 — please! Spruce up the graphics. Add a fun off-road racing game (Excite Truck proved you can use the Wii remote as a very effective steering wheel.) Badminton could also work, but what about fencing, or better yet, kendo? Sharpshooting could also be fun.
Wii, you know I love you. That’s why I’m telling you all this. It’s called tough love, baby. Don’t neglect that casual market you worked so hard to carve out.