Going Gold

Going Gold: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Christian Ward | 2 Dec 2009 17:00
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The fact that rail shooters no longer seem to be released on the HD consoles (the last one I can find is Time Crisis 4, itself an arcade port) seems to suggest that nobody has faith in the genre anymore. The lack of advertising for Dead Space Extraction smacks of a management loss of faith either in the product or the market, leading to a yanking of the marketing budget at the last moment.

Extraction, clearly, is not what Wii owners want. The same argument applies for No More Heroes, MadWorld, The Conduit, and most other games that are supposed to have proven there is no hardcore audience on the Wii - these all seem like games that would have little chance on the HD consoles to begin with. The only marketable, exceptionally high-quality Wii hardcore game I can think of is Resident Evil 4 and it has sold over a million units.

The unwillingness or inability of publishers to capitalize on the Wii is worrying. Instead of creating new products, in the same way that publishers of the 1980s did to ensnare kids who had snapped up the NES just for Mario, publishers of the 2000s have played it far too safe. They've gone the route of copying what Nintendo does, or releasing mediocre action titles, or just making plain cheap and cheerful shovelware.

Nintendo must shoulder some of the blame for this - they have not been supportive enough of the titles that could have made a dent, and even they must realize that, as Blue Fang COO Scott Triola noted last week, Wii software is in "a downward spiral... that we need to get out of." The high amount of dross available on the Wii is drowning out the quality, creating a vicious circle that will drive customers away from everything on the Wii that is not Nintendo-made.

While I realize that many "core" gamers are elitists who want to keep their hobby to themselves, speaking as someone who wants everybody to feel the same joy from videogames I do, this is an immensely frustrating situation. Here's this machine that is low cost, easy to develop for and has a captive audience of millions, but little effort has been made to really crack it.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal is almost quaint in hailing an evening of Wii Sports bowling as "one of the best evenings we have ever had together as a family," even while damning videogames as being "the domain of adolescent boys and aging nerds who should know better" (and like it or not, that is still how we are viewed by huge swathes of society.)

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