Four Problems Facing the Wii in 2008: #4 - Innovation and Potential

greedy [Over the past two weeks, MyWiiNews has presented a four-part, in-depth series on the biggest problems that face the Wii in 2008. We have been looking at the problems and offering a few tips for Nintendo & Co. to meet the challenges head on, and keep the console in first place. This brings the series to a close, but stay tuned to more exclusive content found only at MyWiiNews.com]

As this four-part series draws to a close, we here at MyWiiNews hope that you have picked up a greater understanding of the issues that are facing the Wii in 2008. For our fourth, and final, segment on the hurdles facing the Wii, we’re going to bring the last couple of qualms together to discuss two issues that will face the Wii throughout its entire lifespan: innovation and potential.

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Looking at the Wii on paper, it can be difficult to immediately see what all the fuss is about. It has processing power that seems to be on par with last generation, it lacks true HD capability (or anything on par with/above 720p), and still hasn’t taken the jump to optical sound for anything past Dolby Pro Logic II. With videogame systems continually emphasizing pushing the envelope in terms of graphical presentation and power, why would a developer in their right mind put out a graphically-dwarfed system? The answer lies in the same thing that Nintendo is betting on to keep the Wii afloat through its lifespan: gaming innovation.

Innovation

opoona16.jpg The Wii has gotten off to a wonderful start so far, with overwhelming consumer demand that surpassed even the best analyst’s projections, and a handful of games that have really pushed new boundaries and used the innovative control scheme to their advantage. Even though that small handful of titles have pushed new boundaries, the underoverwhelming majority of titles released have either been ports or simple games with a little motion waggle tagged onto their package. In order for the Wii to remain on top, publishers need to realize that the Wii is more than a casual game/port receptacle. I’m as excited as the next guy to play through Okami the way that I always thought it should be played (on a Wii), but we need more titles like Opoona that are going to push things to the next level in terms of innovation and overall style.

After all, everything boils down to the games at the end of the day, and unless unless new, original content is paving the way for a unique and awesome experience like the DS has, the Wii’s momentum will start to slow, and everyone who owns a Wii will suffer. Publishers need to abandon Youichi Wada’s misconception that the Wii isn’t a games machine or is capable of having “real games.” While it’s true that next-gen titles on the Wii may not hold up to their counterparts, the idea that graphics are the only factor in a title’s success is a crazy one. What the Wii lacks in terms of processing power, it makes up tenfold in its overall potential to create innovative gaming experiences that can be found nowhere else.

What exactly about the Wii lends itself to such forms of innovation? For starters, it’s low development cost. Since the Wii’s hardware is extremely similar to that of the GameCube’s, publishers are already familiar with the things they can do with the system and how to proceed to get the best results. Because of this, developers don’t have to waste as much of their resources trying to harness the system’s power and figuring out how to work with a whole new platform, allowing for more games to be developed for less amounts of money. This gives the Wii a distinct advantage over its competitors, since the titles that are created for cheaper can more easily turn a profit (since they can create a game for almost half as much as they could elsewhere), allowing for developers to take more risks and try new things. This lends itself perfectly to the innovation that the Wii is all about. As uniquely beautiful titles such as No More Heroes, Zack and Wiki, and the upcoming Opoona demonstrate, the Wii is capable of it’s own immersive style, gameplay and beauty that is not found anywhere else. All of these things come together to give the Wii one of it’s strongest aspects that must be addressed throughout this coming year: it’s potential.

Potential

Out of all three next-gen systems, I would have to say that the Wii possesses the greatest amount of potential for both developers and gamers. With such a low opportunity cost for developers to experiment with the Wii’s innovative technology, and the huge userbase willing to eat up worthwhile games (when they’re made aware of their existence), the Wii has the potential to allow developers all kinds of creative freedom not found on any other console.

wario.jpgThe innovative controls also potentially allow new ways for developers to envision how a videogame is supposed to work. It’s important for developers to experiment and try new things with the Wii’s control scheme – simply adding a bit of waggle to a title won’t make it a groundbreaking experience. Taking a look at games that have got it right, such as WarioWare and Mario Galaxy, we find that the Wii Remote has lots of potential in many different areas. Mario Galaxy demonstrated how well that standard control works with bits of motion “flourishes,” while WarioWare was one of the first titles to really show the diversity of ways that the Wii Remote can be utilized for tasks and other innovative situations. The more that developers can utilize this potential in the control scheme and use it for more than just silly gimmicks, the better off Wii games will be.

It’s important to point out one of the biggest shortcomings of the Wii when looking at the problems it faces throughout the next year, and one of the most questionable areas for the Wii lies in its support from multiplatform blockbusters. Many larger companies who are focused on pushing the boundaries in videogames through cinematics and graphical presentation are finding development for the Wii to be a problem. How can developers “downgrade” a graphical powerhouse such as Assassins Creed or Gears of War to make it compatible with the Wii’s dwarfed hardware? And will the results be anything worth spending money on?

gtawii.jpgBoth questions are some of the most pressing issues facing the Wii, especially as more and more of last-generation’s blockbuster exclusives become multiplatform behemoths. Many of these games rely on similar enough hardware and controls to make the game look and perform in the same manner on different consoles. With the Wii, neither the control scheme nor the graphical capabilities are the same, resulting in a lack of developer interest in including the Wii in their multiplatform plans. Will the Wii be able to host Resident Evil 5 if it’s multiplatform? Can Grand Theft Auto ever appear on a Nintendo system? These questions will have to be worked out by developers and Nintendo, who obviously want to reach out to the largest userbase of the current generation. It’s going to be an interesting battle, and one that can only be figured out over time.

Epilogue

 

As this four-part mini-series comes to a close, I would like to thank everyone for bickering about Nintendo’s situation, thus forcing me to compile this article to try and address what we here at MyWiiNews take to be the most pressing issues facing the Nintendo Wii. It’s important to realize that these problems are in no way exclusive to 2008, and many will continue to work themselves out through the system’s lifespan. Undoubtedly, the Wii will continue to struggle for quite some times with its casual game dilemma, and the third-party support hinges on more and more consumers taking a bit of a risk with the new ideas that only the Nintendo Wii will allow developers to take.

We really can’t stress enough that the Wii is not doomed in any sense of the word; if anything it has the brightest lineup this year out of any other consoles. With some of the most intriguing games to make it onto a console in some time, developers are slowly but surely learning what kinds of calculated risks can be taken with the new system and it’s unique userbase. 2008 already looks to be one of the best years for videogames in general, and here’s to hoping that many of these challenges facing the Wii are adequately addressed and worked out through the upcoming year!

Did you miss a part? Fear not! Catch up on the whole series, only on MyWiiNews:

 

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