Wii 2011: Has Nintendo Blown It?

Wii 2011: Has Nintendo Blown It?

2011 is a busy year for Nintendo. The upcoming launch of the 3DS is understandably gobbling up a lot of the company’s resources, but the Nintendo DS and the Wii still require sustenance.

The Nintendo DS recently got a good meal with the launch of Pokemon Black and White in early March: The games sold 1 million copies within 24 hours of launch, proving that the hardy DS is far from down and out. But what about the Wii?

The game menu for Nintendo’s main console is looking a little lean, and president Reggie Fils-Aime is not afraid to admit it.

“We have had to effectively prepare for the launch of Nintendo 3DS as well as effectively prepare for the launch of Pokémon Black and White,” he told IGN. “Candidly, we’ve pushed out some Wii launches so we can focus on our handheld business. We’re already juggling two big balls. To add a third would be a little bit challenging. Or a fourth or a fifth.”

Fair enough: Even a giant like Nintendo can only pour so much energy into a handful of major projects at once. But the company’s divided attention might prove a problem for the Wii’s long-term health. Last year, Reggie Fils-Aime told Kotaku that Nintendo won’t talk about a Wii successor until the original Wii sells another 15 million units. The console has enjoyed a generally high level of popularity since its 2006 release, but its sales momentum is starting to sag. With the 3DS commanding so much attention and resources, will Nintendo be able to provide reasons for consumers to buy a Wii in 2011?

Much depends on how Nintendo markets the system. There are few key releases in store for the rest of the year, though The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is no slouch. But 2011 saw some A-grade games for the Wii, including Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Goldeneye, Red Steel 2, and Super Mario Galaxy 2. With all the hype surrounding the Kinect during the 2010 holiday season, it’s likely most families missed out on the opportunity to add to their Wii library. If Nintendo reminds them of what’s out there, they might buy–provided the Nintendo 3DS doesn’t gobble up the families’ leisure funds first.

It’s easy to see why Nintendo is mortgaging the Wii’s future this year: The launch of the Nintendo 3DS and a sure thing like a new Pokemon game takes priority over an older system, regardless of Nintendo’s hopes to sell 15 million more Wiis. But 2011 isn’t a total write-off for the iconic console, Reggie says. “We’re waiting to space things out and let Pokémon Black and White and 3DS live and breathe out there. But there’s content coming and we’ll be sharing more in the weeks ahead. We’ll be bringing some content out before E3 and then certainly at E3 we’ll be sharing some news.”

By the time E3 rolls around, the 3DS will have settled into the market and Pokemon Black/White will be settled in the bosoms of fans. As far as the Wii goes, Nintendo will probably have a couple of surprises for us in the latter half of the year.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

1 Comments

  1. I’m a little uncertain about this, at least from the perspective of “letting Pokémon Black and White and 3DS live and breathe out there.” That kind of assumes that the Wii, DS, and 3DS market are all one in the same, that every Wii owner also owns a DS or might be planning to get a 3DS at launch.

    Perhaps Pokémon should have been spaced out more from the 3DS, with something– anything– for the Wii in the middle.

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