“The Girl Who Won’t Stop Talking” spoilers below:
Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 10:58 pm
Tuesday, February 27, 2007 - 11:20 pm
The early results are in, and they’re looking pretty damn good for Nintendo: their Wii console sold some 436,000 units in the U.S. in January, compared to 294,000 for Microsoft’s XBox 360 and 244,000 for the Playstation 3. Wii Software did well too, with both Wario Ware Smooth Moves and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess charting in the Top 10 titles for the month.
Even more telling than all that data, however, is that it’s three months past launch and it is still impossible to find a Wii. People still line up in front of Best Buys when new shipments are announced, and for the impatient (like me) the only way to get your hands on one is through craigslist scalpers (like I did). I’d compare it to similar sold-out-everywhere phenomena like Tickle-Me-Elmos or that robot pet that blinked and plotted your demise, except for one thing: it’s January.
Consumer chaos, huge line-ups and shipment sell-outs are something that happen over Christmas, not in January. We expect them in December. It’s that wonderful time of year where everyone goes nuts and decides that what their bachelor apartment really needs in a 50″ Plasma Television and so much IKEA furniture that the excess multitools can be melted down into a cube and exhibited in a museum as some sort of post-modern critique of consumerism and giant cubes. Everyone loses their shit in December, and so sales from that month are largely irrelevant. What’s hot in December is in the bargain bin in January, as generally kids wake up and realize that the thing they wanted — whether it was that version of Battleship that actually talked to you or some sort of voice-activated water pistol that attached to your finger — actually really sucks.
But that didn’t happen with the Wii. Their sales in January 2007 were the highest January sales for any console ever.
So how did Nintendo do it? I certainly didn’t think they would. My expectations with the Wii started low, and only got lower as Nintendo seemingly made moves that were, not to put too fine a point on it, really stupid. It’s only twice as powerful as the Gamecube! It can’t output to High Definition! It has a controller that looks like a television remote! They named it “Wii”!
They looked doomed.
And now here we are, with Nintendo for the first time in a decade looking like they might actually have a chance of winning the worldwide ‘war’ for console userbase supremacy. How they did it exactly is anyone’s guess, but here are five moves Nintendo made in 2006 that, in retrospect, seem really brilliant.