Since it’s launch in November 2006, the Nintendo Wii has sold more than 101 million units globally. In comparison, both Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation sold approximately 84 million units respectively. The Wii is the fifth best selling game console of all time, trailing behind such legends as the PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, Game Boy/Game Boy Color and the original PlayStation. Interestingly, the successor to the Wii, Nintendo’s Wii U, sold just under 14 million units; a significant decline in sales when compared to it predecessor.
Forgive me die hard Nintendo fans, but the Wii was not a fantastic console. However, it wasn’t completely terrible either. The Wii had a large array of gimmicky titles and accessories, as well as quirky inclusions, such as the Mii Channel. While they were all fun for a period of time, they don’t hold much replay value anymore, especially when compared to other Nintendo greats, such as Super Mario World on the SNES.
So, why was the Nintendo Wii so popular?
It appealed to parents
The Wii came out at a time when parents began to realise that video games were becoming more violent (e.g. the Call of Duty series) and inappropriate (e.g. the Grand Theft Auto series). Naturally, parents were becoming increasingly hesitant to allowing their younger children access to consoles which were capable of displaying such content.
Nintendo aimed the Wii at parents. Nearly all advertisements for the Wii showcased G-rated titles instead of mature titles, and featured happy children and/or young families. The cases for Wii games were white, instead of being an edgy green or moody black, symbolising safety and purity. Also, it would be several years before the console and controllers could be purchased in a colour other than white.
Many games allowed for up to four controllers to be connected at once, which was encouraging to parents, as their kids could play games together and socialise with friends at the same time while staying away from “dangerous online predators”. Even if the game did support online multiplayer, it was quite restrictive, and, in the case of Mario Kart Wii, impossible to say anything negative or inappropriate to another player.
It forced players to be active
The Wii was the first console that actively tried to force you to stand up, move around and be active. This was quite attractive to parents that wanted to keep their kids active, especially when the weather didn’t permit outdoor play, or when they couldn’t get their kids away from the TV.
With the launch of Wii Fit, the Wii instantly became more attractive to millions of health-conscious individuals across a wide age range, contributing to console sales.
It was different
From a technology perspective, the Wii was not an overly powerful or groundbreaking console. It was however, different. The way that players interacted with games was completely different. This helped the console to stand out from the conventional competition and soar ahead. Adding to this was the fact that the console had several desirable exclusives, such as Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
What are your thoughts on the Wii? Leave a comment below!