Ask an old lady what she thinks of her Nintendo Wii, which her husband gave her for Christmas so he can ignore her, and she’ll say something like, “Oh, it’s wonderful. I love the Wii Fit, and the Wii Bowling is so much fun!” Ask a “gamer” what he thinks of the Wii and you’ll get something like, “Maybe if Nintendo would stop releasing shovelware I’d turn it on for the first time since 2006, wtf.” What do we mean by “shovelware”? Try Wii Music, which, as Nintendo king Satoru Iwata recognized last week, “is a software that elicits largely two extremely different reaction from consumers. There are people who highly appreciate it and those who do not appreciate it at all.” That is to say, “Yeah, sorry you guys hated it. Are we still friends?”
Iwata admitted to Wii Music‘s failings at a results briefing in Tokyo, during one of those fun Q&A sessions. Someone asked, “So, why is Wii Music a piece of garbage?” Then Iwata said what he said (“yada yada, sorry not everyone is going to like everything”) in the game’s defense, while noting that, though sales have been disappointing so far, he wouldn’t characterize the game as a failure. He noted that, you know, Brain Age didn’t sell too well in Japan, but once Brain Age 2 came out, instant success.
There’s a larger issue here than whether or not Wii Music disappointed both commercially and critically. It’s that Nintendo, for better or worse, has embraced a fine-for-profits-now mentality: let’s completely ignore the people who brought us here! That’s a fine strategy right now, when Lonely Housewife is still having fun playing Wii Fit. What happens when she loses interest? Will Nintendo’s longtime fans still be there for the company? Does Nintendo have a “post-Wii” strategy, and are traditional “gamers” even a part of it?