Forbes: Kinda Sorta Missing the Point

by Steve Bowler on May 5, 2008 · 5 comments

in business

Forbes jumps on the “Nintendo is in Trouble!” bandwagon a bit in a recent article lamenting the lack of some GTA IV on the Wii platform. Somehow, they make a mental leap which figures that GTA IV is going to put a dent in or decrease the flow of titles and systems flying off of the shelves with the Wii brand name on them.

While I can see how they reasoned this, their logic isn’t quite holding up under scrutiny.

The misconception starts by figuring that GTA IV (which sold an impressive 6 million titles across the 360 and the PS3 in its first week alone) is going to somehow “lure” gamers away from the Wii. As if gamers were the Wii’s target demographic in the first place. Which it decidedly isn’t.

The point is, and excuse my gross generalization, the Wii is marketed to Soccer Moms and Retirement Home Bowling League Addicts. It’s not a gamer’s platform. Caveat: okay gamers do play it. But it’s not for gamers. It’s for the consumer public at large. Nintendo has pretty much admitted as such. They wanted to bring gaming to the masses, not gaming to gamers. That niche is filled already.

That’s what GTA is for.

Granted, GTA is pretty mainstream. The mass consumer public that plays it who call themselves “gamers” when they’re not fist-pounding their frat buddies and doing keg stands are buying it, certainly. But the “Nintendo” demographic aren’t. Nintendo knew this when they designed their system to be built off of last-gen hardware with next-gen controls. They know that mostly only Nintendo games sell well on Nintendo hardware, and Nintendo games don’t need dual core processors with liquid cooled GPUs to be fun. So why spend the money on them when they’d be essentially pointless? They made a calculated decision to miss that boat because, let’s be honest: Would you buy a GTA game for Nintendo hardware even if the hardware were capable of running it?

So, back to the idea that GTA IV is going to lure gamers away from the Wii. We can pretty much assume that gamers who are gamers aren’t the people who only own a Wii. They already own a next-gen system and a Wii, most probably.

Any gamers who were holding out for a next-gen system already ran out and bought one either for the Halo3 launch, or when Playstation won the Blu-Ray war. It will be interesting to see if either party actually moved a significantly larger number of units due to GTA IV once the TRST reports for April come out, but I’m thinking it’s dubious at best.

Finally, if we can all agree that Wii owners (remember, the ones who only own a Wii) are mostly folks looking for some affordable, wholesome, cheap entertainment, we have to question if they will be swayed by what is ostensibly an NC-17 rated video-game. While it’s a huge generalization on my part, Retirees and Soccer Moms aren’t exactly in the market for a game that involves you stealing cars, capping asses, and banging hookers.

I just don’t see them looking at GTA IV and wishing they had the hardware to play it. Do you?

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