Wii 3?

by Nitin M

I had a few e-mails over the last few days wondering if the lack of my posting was because I was at E3. Sadly, I wasn’t able to go this year for various reasons.

While I am not officially employed within the gaming industry any more, the miracle of the Internet allows me to keep abreast of whats happening at the Staples Center.

Having been there twice I can confirm that it is arguable the greatest show on earth. I cannot think of anything else, except a party at the Playboy Mansion, that could be better than being surrounded by the future of home entertainment. I have people who can vouch for it.

Back to the topic at hand, I must comment on the recent happenings at E3 and specifically the upcoming console wars.

For once, I felt that the press was appropriately more focused on the “issues” at hand i.e. console wars, as opposed to dedicating pages on the booth babes. Perhaps it was also due to the strict regulations handed out to exhibitors this year about turning the show into a skin fest.

The general opinion seems to be that our friends Nintendo stole the show. Having been monitoring the gaming press, especially those covering E3, it wasn’t too difficult to stay abreast of whats been happening.

Nintendo have never been seen to be the company with the big marketing muscle. Sony and Microsoft have been going at each other so much for the last five years that they failed to noticed the under dog preparing for war. I hereby christen this year as World War Wii.

Nintendo has stolen the show by reminding gamers and mere spectators alike that gaming is not all about the eye candy and the console with the higher specs. Its all about having fun – and fun they had with the Wii’s cool controller. From what I saw and read on the web of the lines that waited to get into the Nintendo booth to try out the Wii, I am impressed. The last time I saw people waiting 3 hours in line to get into a booth was at E3 2004 for Half-Life 2.

Sony seems to be struggling with their PR machinery trying to maintain face with their seemingly copy cat controller feature. In the meantime, Microsoft is trying to make the most of their lead in the new generation console war.

It remains to be seen:
– whether Microsoft’s lead will prove good for Redmond and ensure it the top spot, at least in terms of number of Xbox 360s sold
– whether Nintendo’s PR coup will eat into Sony’s PS3 launch. Given the near simultaneous launch timing for both platforms, the only thing that matters now is the content. Who will have more compelling games for their system at launch and how many?

Another interesting thing that has come out of this E3 is the fact that very very soon publishers will have to stop publishing cross platform content, but rather develop uniquely for each one. Given that both the Wii and the PS3 have features which are not in the Xbox 360, we can definitely see them spending more money on the development side in terms of resources. The days of porting games from one platform are over or at least they will not be as simple anymore.

Development costs are definitely going to go up and only those developers & publishers who have geared themselves up for this in terms of resources – creative and technical – will come out winning. The rest will just be also rans.

In my next post I’ll look at some of the games that made waves at E3 2006.

Till then, Viva Le Wii!!!