Thursday, November 30, 2006

Third Is The New Black

Nintendo dominated my childhood. Atari was my first love, but Nintendo swept me away to new, vibrant game worlds. I’m still a little sad that a Nintendo console is not at the top of the videogame pile. Although I gots love for all the systems, I guess I have a little bit of a fanboy lurking within.

In this week’s New Yorker (12/4/06), James Surowiecki devotes his Financial Page column to Nintendo’s lucrative spot at third place in the console “wars”. The essay, “In Praise of Third Place,” declares Nintendo a “cool third-party candidate” in the console contest. So what does that mean for Wii?

Surowiecki sees Sony and Microsoft as being locked in a “classic arms race” for more sublime graphics and more non-game functionality like next-gen video, a race that Nintendo has dropped out of. Sony loses something like $250 on every PS3 it sells due to the expensive super-technology inside, while Nintendo, apparently, makes money on the Wii.

The question for me is: what will the gamers gravitate to, better graphics or innovative controls? Because where the gamers go, so do the games. More dreck, sure, but more good games, as well. Can the Wii pull something like that off? Surowiecki writes:

Nintendo knew that it could not compete with Microsoft and Sony in the quest to build the ultimate home-entertainment device. So it decided, with the Wii, to play a different game entirely. Some pundits are now speculating, ironically, that the simplicity of the Wii may make it a huge hit.
After the Gamecube, I’m a little skeptical about the huge hit. But the DS has been great, so I have my fingers crossed.

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