Out of Touch – The Nintendo Wii Experience

I don’t really get why I started reading the Gamasutra blog, seeing as I am not in the video game industry myself.  It is very much an insider’s blog, but they try to make sure it is accessible to simply game fans.  Truth be told, who is most likely their bread and butter?  Yeah, game fans who want to make games.

An interesting article on creating must-have Wii games came my way, actually indirectly through another blog.  I forget the blog’s name, but I’m probably going to give them a shout-out sooner or later.  Gamasutra is interesting, but it’s just not something that calls my attention by itself.

The article sums up what it is you find on Wii and why.  There are a lot of bargain-priced titles that people in the gaming communities call “shovelware” that sell really well.  They have accessible box art, promise short play experiences, and most important cost less than the A-class titles on the system.  The big thing that jumps out at me is the lower price, especially after Valve publicly stated a month or so ago that more units of a game sell when the price is lower.

Shock and awe.

Along with value, games that sell well on the Wii are accessible and have a certain level of recognition factor involved.  This is pretty common in mainstream marketing, which is what the Wii has definitely reached.  Movies that sell exceptionally well tend to have brands or actors that people recognize and deliver fairly simple narratives (along with trailers that pretty much tell people what they’re getting).  It is what appeals to the base level of person.

I resent what Pachter says in the article about the Wii audience’s not being as sophisticated as the audience for the other two consoles.  There’s something about the word that bothers me in this context.  We’re talking about video games, and these people who play on the Wii are playing games that they want to play.  Whether or not the games receive critical acclaim is not important when the discussion should be about the amount of fun the individual user is experiencing.  I would say that these individuals are making incredibly wise choices, especially since they may not have as much invested in video games as others might.  A bargain title to a new gamer is a huge investment.  People who are used to paying upwards of $30 for games see the cost as lesser than people who are just now finding out how much everything costs.  While I would not buy these games myself, these are fairly wise investments for people who are essentially experimenting with gaming.

It starts making more and more sense to me why game developers and the long time enthusiasts do not understand this.  The only time they experienced this newness to video games was long ago, and they forgot all about the experimental wonder that it was.  Hell, this may even explain why their idea of a social gaming experience, for the most part, is cold, competitive, and usually at a long physical distance from everyone else.  Gaming for them is personal, and they can’t understand the mindset of people who are not at their level of intensity about it.

The developers are also the reason why the new consumers found on the Wii are not accustomed to the more intense, serious-minded games that are found on other systems.  Where were these developers at the Wii’s launch?  Their negligence cultured the crowd they are currently unable to sell their games to because they were were busy being nay-sayers about Nintendo’s less powerful system.  Now if they want to profit off of the machine, they have to build their brands from the bottom up.  They can also continue ignoring the Wii and making their profits from the other two, but it would be naive not to tap into a larger market.

And what we come away with is that people want to buy games they recognize, that are cheap, and that are easy to pick up and play.  MAKE your games recognizable.  If not based on a previous property, put it out in the public consciousness.  Advertising, believe it or not, can sell games.  SELL games for less than standard price.  What you fail to accrue per unit may be made up by total units sold.  MAKE GAMES FUN AND EASY TO PLAY.  Don’t make games easy, but don’t overcomplicate them.  That should be a no-brainer.

This is not coming from a Nintendo apologist.  I support the Wii because I find it to be a really fun system, and the price point matched where I needed it to be.  I have gotten a lot out of it already, but I would like to see more come its way.  I’m by no means the average Wii owner, but I know people who are.  These people want to play games, but they’re not the elitists who pour through all information available on the entirety of the internet before they play games.  They pick what is fun to them, not what they’re told is fun.  They want to share games with their friends.  They want to have fun with their consoles.  I’m not going to lie.  I want to have fun with my console as well.  Developers just need to realize that the only crowd out there isn’t the niche audience that was initially cultured in the 80’s.  It’s time to start thinking that really anyone could be a gamer if given the chance.

About Gospel X

Media commentator who tries not to waste time - and often fails

Posted on March 11, 2009, in culture, video games, Wii. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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