Wii Rant

Hi guys, I was just thinking recently about the Wii and its games.  In the wake of Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4 soon to come, I was wondering if you think the Wii will ever have a masterpiece to call its own?  Now, I’m not saying the Wii doesn’t have any good games.  On the contrary, there are more games I want for the Wii than on the other two consoles, but I do recognize that the games that are released for it just don’t have the same care or attention put into them as games on other systems do.

The system obviously does not have the same horsepower as the other two systems, but I don’t see how that alone should be a factor in putting care and attention into a game.  I just finished playing through Metal Gear Solid 3 on the PS2 and it has just as much power today, in this environment as it did when it was released.  Could MGS3 be done on the Wii?  Of course.

I’m obviously not a game developer so I can’t be completely accurate in my assessment of technical specifics, but I’ve yet to see a game on a hi-def system that couldn’t be done on the Wii (aside from the graphical downgrade).

As great as Mass Effect was, couldn’t the same game be done on the Wii with weaker graphics?  Yes the graphics in Mass Effect were awsome, but they alone were hardly what made the game great.  There was definite care put into the game and that was what made the game shine.

Bioshock also was an awsome game with excellent graphics, but could that sense of atmosphere be achieved without such high polygon counts?  I believe they could.  The Silent Hill games of the last generation are proof that atmosphere can be created with Wii-like system specs.

Once again, I’m not saying the Wii doesn’t have any great games but its clear that there is a deep divide between the effort put into producing games for the competing systems than there are in creating Wii games.  There is some blame to be put into the consumers of course.  Casual games sell well, but I don’t think all the blame can be put on the consumer.  Casual games can be fun and really, that alone should be reason enough to buy a game.  It just feels like Nintendo can’t win sometimes.  The Nintendo 64 was too expensive to develop for so all the third parties flocked to the Playstation.  The Gamecube didn’t sell well so third-party support stayed away.  Now Nintendo has the largest install base and a platform that is both easy and inexpensive to develop for and still the third parties are reluctant to put any serious development into Wii games.

The argument can and has been made that mature games don’t sell well on the Wii.  I wonder how that conclusion was reached considering there have been so few developed that actually had decent development behind them.  Manhunt 2 was a decent game, but clearly not one to set the world on fire despite the console it was released on.  No More Heroes was not only a very niche title, it also felt incomplete with the empty “open-world.”  Resident Evil 4 and Umbrella Chronicles both posted respectable numbers.  It could be argued that they only did so because they were part of a popular series, but it should be mentioned that the top ten selling PS2 games are also all part of long-running popular series’ which I’m sure helped in their sales.

It should also be noted that of the Wii’s 22 million+ selling games, eight are rated Teen or higher and of those eight, four are from third-parties.  The audience is there, but third parties choose to ignore it exists and when they do produce a game for that audience, they decline to put a good development team behind it and fail to invest in decent marketing to help make the game a success.  So when the game fails, they use it as an example of why they shouldn’t make more.  Its like making a boat with a hole in the bottom, then after it sinks, using it as an proof that there’s no market for boats.

I think Guitar Hero III is an excellent example of what third parties can do on the Wii.  The Wii version has sold nearly as many copies on the Wii as it has on the 360, which is now nearing 3 million units.  Of course, both versions fall short of the PS2 version but that can be explained as the series has been on the PS2 since the beginning and so is where most of the fans are and they’re likely to keep buying it on the same system as they already have the necessary peripherals.  Anyways, the Wii was included in the marketing push for the game and shared a decent development team and in turn, the game was a success, and that was in spite of the higher cost of the game compared to regular Wii titles.

Also as far as the argument that games don’t sell as well on the Wii as on other systems, the Wii currently has 22 titles that have sold over a million units.  The PS3, which was released only a few days earlier has 7, and the X-Box 360, which released a full year before the Wii only has 28 titles that have sold over a million units.

I’m not sure where else to go with this really.  To answer my own question about whether the Wii will ever have its own masterpiece in the vein of Bioshock, Mass Effect, GTA IV, or Metal Gear Solid, no, I don’t think it ever will.  I say this, not because I don’t think the Wii is capable of it.  Far from it.  I just don’t think there’s any third party out there that is willing to put in the effort on all fronts, development, and marketing, to push a game of that calibur for the Wii.  While I understand where the common excuses (no market for mature titles on the Wii, games don’t sell well on the Wii, third parties don’t sell well on the Wii) come from, I don’t believe that they are an accurate description of reality.  Still, it seems third parties choose to believe the inaccuracies and the Wii misses out.

P.S.- I do own all three consoles so its not that I don’t have an avenue for enjoying titles like Mass Effect and Bioshock and am just upset that I can’t play them on my “inferior” console (I own and have played through both titles).  Instead its more that I want to see the potential of the Wii realized as I believe it has as much potential as the 360 does with its groundbreaking Live service, or the PS3 with its sheer power and its just upsetting to see that there are few developers really interested in exploring it, and fewer still who have the will to bring a true blockbuster to the system.