An Achilles' heel for Wii's popularity?

April 15, 2009 By Rob Watson

Awhile back, I had questioned the staying power of Nintendo's Wii. An almost ridiculous notion considering the eye-popping sales numbers the console continues to enjoy. Selling more than 750,000 units in February (Xbox 360: 391,000, PS3: 276,000) is just insane.

Yet, one of the reasons for my concerns about the big N winning a 12-round decision was based on questioning friends about how often they used their . The answers weren't very encouraging.

Now, Nielsen Media Research has published the results of a poll in which console owners were questioned in the fourth quarter of last year about the time they spent playing. The numbers are as I had suspected.

According to Nielsen, the average sessions for 360, and Wii owners were 78, 64 and 58 minutes, respectively. Wii owners also were less likely to use their consoles more than once a week compared with owners of the 360 and PS3.

To be fair, it must be remembered that 360 and PS3 owners also can do other things on their consoles (watch movies, for example) that the Wii camp cannot. Unfortunately, there isn't a breakdown in this poll to separate non-gaming time from gaming time.

It really doesn't matter too much, though, and services offered are services offered. The fact of the matter is that the Wii is selling like mad but isn't being used as much.

Is it such a big deal? To third-party developers and publishers, I would think so. If I buy "Madden" on the Wii but don't play it half as much as the person who bought "Madden" on one of the other consoles, which gamer would be likeliest to get the next "Madden" game?

I wonder how much Nintendo really cares, though, as it counts wads of cash, day in and day out.

Company officials know that casual gaming can attract the largest pool of gamers. Heck, Nielsen also claims "Solitaire" and "Free Cell" were the top-played games for December, so Nintendo is definitely onto something. I just can't help feeling that when all is said and done, the Wii will lose its luster sooner than, say, the 360, because on any given day many Wii owners can take it or leave it when it comes to playing. Owners of 360 and PS3 consoles seem to think, and most definitely play, differently.


(c) 2009, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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not rated yet Apr 15, 2009
I think this also may be a cause effect fallacy to a certain extent. It seems to me likely that people aren't playing the Wii as much due to what system it is, as it is more along the lines of the games provided. Most games that consumers are picking up are ones that are designed to be put back down quickly. Wii Play, Wii Music, etc. are all games designed for a fun few minutes. The very few games that are able to be played longer are few and far between. Games like Madden would be just as likely to be played on a Wii counsel as on a XB3 (this is a bit of a hasty generalization I recognize, because I'm sure graphics and features play a roll in this as well).

Ultimately, many people who own Wii's aren't the kind of people who will spend long periods of time playing it as they are "casual" gamers more than the other two systems. Besides, a game developer doesn't mind how often people play their games after they are sold, just as long as they are selling. It seems likely that people will still buy enough for them to make a profit.
not rated yet Apr 16, 2009
There is a lot of merit in this article. Take myself for example:
- I have a Wii
- I'm a big gamer
- I have 2 kids (8 and 12)
The Wii sits for weeks at a time, sometimes even a month or two - totally untouched. When it does get used, its usually because one of few-and-far-between great games is released (de Blob, Mario Galaxy, Boom Blox, Lego Indy Jones/Star Wars). Also, Wii Sports is still one of the most played games we have.
In short, the Wii has an excess of shovelware which it definitely why it doesn't get played much.

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