Nintendo's Wii Mania

Includes: NTDOY, SNE
by: Bruce Everiss

For the last two weeks the PS3 has outsold the Wii in Japan. Now a lot of this is down to Sony (NYSE:SNE) introducing a cheaper version of the PS3. But the biggest factor must be stock availability of the Wii. Nintendo (OTCPK:NTDOY) just cannot make enough to keep up with worldwide demand. And with Super Mario Galaxy just out and being proclaimed by many as the best game ever, that demand is just going to get worse.

The last production figure that Nintendo released was 1.8 million units a month but, confusingly, they say they are shipping an extra 3.5 million units worldwide for christmas. Which could make a total of 7.1 million units over November and December. And they will easily sell them all.

The situation in the UK is close to manic. A lady I know put her name on several shop waiting lists and was finally only allowed to buy one if she bought six games at the same time! There are websites that tell you of stock availability, but as soon as they say a retailer has some, that retailer’s website crashes under the demand. Amazon sold 1,400 units in just ten minutes and secondhand Wiis fetch increasingly higher premiums on Ebay.

These are amazing times and they are the consequence of Nintendo making gaming fun for all the family, instead of the niche demographic that video gaming has traditionally catered to. The annoying thing is that the industry could have made this massive leap years ago, but lacked the will and ability to do so.

Of course this represents a fantastic opportunity for game developers. But they cannot produce the games that they produced before. The audience and its expectations are different now. I have posted this development guide before and it is very relevant:

1) Don’t do shovelware. You are just damaging your brand(s).
2) Write Wii specific titles. Don’t port. You have to respect the interface difference.
3) Understand that most Wiis live in the lounge. And most other consoles live in the bedroom.
4) Polish, lots. Then polish some more.
5) Realize that you have to provide entertainment for the population at large. FPS titles are not a good idea.
6) You need to market completely differently. PR in women’s magazines will work a lot better than adverts in game magazines.
7) Talk to your wife/girlfriend. They understand the Wii better than you do.

It will be extremely interesting to see what happens after Christmas. Maybe the Wii is a seasonal gift item and sales will fall flat. Or maybe the release of system seller titles such as Wii Fit will keep the demand going.

So have you got yours yet?