A full six months after the hugely successful launch of Nintendo’s innovative Wii game console, PC and Windows “analysts” Paul Thurrott published a predictable piece about how Microsoft’s XBOX 360 was the console to beat. Despite Thurrott’s own “concerns about the 360’s reliability” he still felt that consumers would choose the XBOX over both the PS3 and especially the Nintendo Wii. He remarkably advised that except for parents with very young children, all others should “skip out on this console”, and called the Nintendo Wii “a joke”.
It’s now seven months later and the Wii buying season is upon us for the second time. The funny thing is, people are still lining up to get their hands on a Nintendo Wii. This weekend, I went to Best Buy here in Greensboro to finish up my Christmas shopping and arrived a bit before they opened at 10am. What I found was a line of about 50 people waiting outside the store. What were they waiting for? Had they braved the chilly morning air since 7am to snap up an XBOX 360 and a copy of Halo 3? Not in the least. The majority of these people were waiting to earn a chance to take home one of 18 Wii’s the store manager later told me had come in for the week. As I walked past the line I was reminded of Thurrott’s column and knew I couldn’t resist the urge to say “I told you so.”
In the span of less than a year, Wii sales have far outpaced those of the XBOX 360. I challenge you to walk into any electronics or toy store today and walk out with a Wii. People still can’t easily get a hold of the console, even though Nintendo ramped up production to 1.8 million units a month. If the Wii is a joke, then it’s one Nintendo’s laughing all the way to the bank. Depsite Microsoft’s success with Halo 3, Nintendo is making money hand over fist with each Wii sold. Not so for Microsoft, or especially SONY’s PS3, where margins are miniscule.
The Wii has once again secured Nintendo’s place in the halls of gaming history and proven that flashy graphics and all the cash in the world don’t make up for innovation, solid game play and word of mouth. Best of all though, it has shown that like many things he writes about, Paul Thurrott doesn’t have the first clue. I’m looking forward to playing Super Mario Galaxy over my holiday break and I hope all those people waiting in front of Best Buy this morning eventually get to play too. If you’re still on a quest for a Wii, remember to keep an eye out for one for Thurrott. After he takes his fifth or sixth XBOX back for repairs, maybe he’ll start to give Nintendo the respect they so rightfully deserve.