Nintendo’s efforts will now shift completely to its latest home gaming machine, the Wii U. That console followup debuted nearly a year ago and is compatible with the Wii’s motion controllers and games while also having its own titles that work only for the high-definition console.
Seven years ago, Nintendo debuted the Wii. At first, gamers didn’t know what to make of it. The system eschewed a traditional controller in favor of a remote-control-like device that can interpret motion input. The system was also underpowered compared to its competition. The Nintendo hardware can only output standard-definition visuals where as Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 were both created to work with high-definition displays.
The unknown controller and lesser graphics didn’t hold the system back in terms of sales. Wii attracted attention from beyond traditional gamer circles and found an audience with families and moms.
Nintendo packed in a collection of sports-based minigames with the console in a title called Wii Sports. That game featured motion-control representations of bowling and tennis, where players have to mimic tossing the ball and swinging their racket. Wii Sports defined the system, and its easy-to-understand controls welcomed in a wave of “casual gamers.”
Wii experienced monster sales through its first few years on the market. It proved to many that the “blue-ocean” approach — where a company looks outside of its traditional market for new customers — could work for games.
The systems’ sales did eventually drop off. Gamers never fully embraced the idea of motion control — even after Microsoft and Sony both attempted to emulate it with add-on devices for their systems.
That mass casual audience, however, didn’t really buy a lot of games for Wii in addition to Wii Sports. They also started moving on to Apple products like the iPad for their gaming needs.