What is the Wii’s future?
A fun, family-orientated console for all ages to enjoy? A serious console to rival the PS3 and Xbox 360, capable of hosting the next wave of cutting-edge games? Or a halfway house between the two? Just what does Nintendo want from the Wii and where is it headed? The direction seems confused.
One thing's for certain: it cannot compete with Sony and Microsoft in terms of getting games that display the bleeding edge of graphical prowess. But, with recent announcements suggesting games designed for grown-ups are in development for the system, and developers don't understand the Wii and don't develop to its strengths, it seems no one's really sure what to do with Nintendo's little white box.
Another certainty: you cannot market a console for over a year as being something for the whole family to enjoy, with multiplayer fun-fests and fitness fads at the heart of your campaigns, and then expect people to suddenly see your product in a different light. This episode seems reminiscent of the GameCube, where everyone saw it as a fun little toy that developers eventually shied away from while Sony and Microsoft fought for the loyalty of hardened gamers.
This time around is slightly different: unlike the GameCube, the Wii has sold by the bucket load, ensuring companies at least have to take a little bit of notice of what Nintendo wants to do. But unless there's consensus over what that is, we'll continue to get half-arsed conversions, poor relations to the leading titles and ‘family'-orientated games which most people simply regard as childish.
Now, I love my Wii, it's great fun. I don't really care if Fallout 3 won't appear on it. That's not why I bought it. That's not why a lot of people bought it. But Nintendo seems convinced it can cater for everyone, as if it's still the king of the console castle. The videogame world has changed, and Nintendo needs to come up with some kind of coherent strategy with where it wants to go, or it's going to get caught betwixt and between and end up looking like it's chasing after punters again.