Wii are #1!

The Nintendo Wii is officially the world’s best-selling console:

The Financial Times is reporting that the Nintendo Wii is now the number one selling console in the world, even though the Xbox 360 enjoyed a full year head start. Based on sales data from the NPD Group, Enterbrain, and GfK, here is how the console sales break down:

  • Nintendo Wii: 9 million units
  • Xbox 360: 8.9 million units
  • Playstation 3: 3.7 million units

Meanwhile, the Wii Zapper is coming out soon, bundled with a Zelda minigame that lets you use it for crossbow practice. But all of this is just the appetizer for when the online multiplayer lightsaber game arrives, someday…

Nintendo Wii Zapper

Wii do DVD

It’s true that DVD playback on the Wii is not exactly a killer app; by now anyone who has a Wii probably has plenty of other options for DVD playback. Still, just for convergence’s sake, would be nice to have. I fact Wii consoles already can play DVDs, if you’ve modded the console. And a software-based player is almost surely coming down the line; Nintendo has hinted that the next hardware revision in late 2007 will have DVD playback.

If Nintendo released a software-based firmware upgrade or software app to allow me to play DVDs right now, I’d pay as much as $10-$15 for it. They could easily distribute it via the Virtual Console. The capability has to be there, since the Wii game discs are DVD media.

wee games for the Wii

in an interview with the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo, he let this little nugget slip about a potential use for the WiiWare development platform:

we have in our internal development teams who are constantly doing different experiments and will have different ideas about games. And oftentimes a lot of those experiments can’t be fully fleshed out into, say, a Mario game or something like that. But those individuals will often want to find a way to take those ideas to market. So it’s possible that we might be able to take advantages of some of those resources and turn them into small and compact Wii Ware games.

if they price these at $1, I can see this being as addictive for me as iTunes is for others. Especially if the games can also be transfered to the Nintendo DS… The infrastructure is in place to create an entire ecosystem that could rival or even exceed Apple’s, but for games instead of music.


(I’m bending the mandatory title punning rule here, but I claim artistic license)

this news speaks for itself:

As part of the final Hollywood & Games Summit panel in Los Angeles, LucasArts’ Jim Ward has been discussing the oft-raised question of a lightsaber game for Nintendo’s Wii, saying that the company has internal prototypes running using the Wiimote.

In response to a question from session moderator N’Gai Croal of Newsweek asking: “What would it take to make a lightsaber game for the Wii?”, Ward, who is President of LucasArts and a Senior VP at Lucasfilm, commented:

“We’re all over that, and internally we have already played a lightsaber game on the Wii. It’s a lot of fun, and we’ll get there.”

He added that the whole concept of a title using a lightsaber of Nintendo Wii was “…in place! There’ll be some stuff out this Fall – it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

I predict that we will also see a bevy of smaller lightsabre-esque titles for the Wii via the new WiiWare channel, which allows small game developers to post their games to the Wii’s virtual console for download. Maybe someone will create a light-scimitar game!

Acute Wiiitis

As a medical researcher, I have unlimited access to resources such as PubMed. I take my responsibility as wielder of this immense resource seriously. Charged as I am with the welfare of the public, I am excerpting in full a recent letter to the Editor from the New England Journal of Medicine:

To the Editor: A healthy 29-year-old medical resident awoke one Sunday morning with intense pain in the right shoulder. He did not recall any recent injuries or trauma and had not participated in any sports or physical exercise recently. He consulted a rheumatology colleague. The Patte’s test was positive, consistent with acute tendonitis isolated to the right infraspinatus.

After further review of his activities during the previous 24 hours, the patient recalled that he had bought a new Nintendo Wii (pronounced “wee”) video-game system and had spent several hours playing the tennis video game. With the Wii system, the player faces a video screen and moves a handheld controller (approximately 14.5 cm by 3.0 cm by 3.0 cm, with a weight of approximately 200 g) containing solid-state accelerometers and gyroscopes that sense three-dimensional spatial movements. In the tennis video game, the player makes the same arm movements as in a real game of tennis. If a player gets too engrossed, he may “play tennis” on the video screen for many hours. Unlike in the real sport, physical strength and endurance are not limiting factors.

The final diagnosis for the isolated right shoulder pain was Nintendinitis. However, the variant in this patient can be labeled more specifically as “Wiiitis.” The treatment consisted of ibuprofen for 1 week, as well as complete abstinence from playing Wii video games. The patient recovered fully. Nintendinitis was first described in 1990,1 and there have been many case reports of injuries related to intensive use of recreational technologies, mainly in children and mainly from intensive use of the extensor tendon of the thumb.2,3,4,5

With the growing use of this new video-game system, the risk of the Wiiitis variant may be higher than that of Nintendinitis reported in the literature, especially among adults. The available games for the Wii system already include golf, boxing, baseball, and bowling. Future games could involve different and unexpected groups of muscles. Physicians should be aware that there may be multiple, possibly puzzling presentations of Wiiitis.

Julio Bonis, M.D.
Instituto Municipal de Investigación Médica
E-08003 Barcelona, Spain


  1. Brasington R. Nintendinitis. N Engl J Med 1990;322:1473-1474.
  2. Macgregor DM. Nintendonitis? A case report of repetitive strain injury in a child as a result of playing computer games. Scott Med J 2000;45:150-150.
  3. Koh TH. Ulcerative “nintendinitis”: a new kind of repetitive strain injury. Med J Aust 2000;173:671-671.
  4. Menz RJ. “Texting” tendinitis. Med J Aust 2005;182:308-308.
  5. Karim SA. Playstation thumb — a new epidemic in children. S Afr Med J 2005;95:412-412.

The full citation for this publication is: Bonis, J. Acute Wiiitis. NEJM, 356(23):2431-2 (2007). Full text PDF. PubMed ID: PMID 17554133

Wii? Non.

Yes, I’ve run out of English-language Nintendo Wii puns and am now reaching into French. But the fact remains that it is now March and the Wii is still incredibly hard to find. The shortage has attracted the attention of Real Economists now. Some of the more interesting consequences:

  • There are no known parts shortages, but Nintendo simply can’t keep up with demand. I remember reading earlier that Nintendo decided to use sea-based shipments to save money rather than air shipments from the manufacturer to market; that surely adds another bottleneck to exacerbate the manufacturing one.
  • Retailers and Nintendo’s competitors actually benefit from the shortages, because walk-ins searching for a Wii end up buying something else.
  • Nintendo is hurt by this, since the units are being scalped for up to double retail pricve, and not a penny of that goes into Nintendo’s pockets. Likewise, game vendors are being hurt because they are sitting on a lot of Wii game titles that people can’t play, so their inventory isn’t moving.

So the bottom line is a weird kind of limbo where Wii unit sales still top the sales of any other new console by a huge margin, since every Wii that makes it to the shelves is snapped up immediately. However, sales of old-generation Playstation 2 have been boosted by the shortage, beating out the Wii’s numbers, because the PS2 is the only thing in a comparable price range that can appeal to the disappointed walk-in. But the true king of the hill is the Nintendo DS which blows every other game system old or new, console or handheld, out of the water. Here are the numbers:

Sales of the new video game systems cooled slightly, according to sales numbers released by NPD for the month of March. Sales of Nintendo DS nearly doubled that of anything else, selling over a half-million units.
The PlayStation 2 demonstrated impressive staying power at second place at 280,000 sold, outselling each of the new consoles. Wii came out on top of the new consoles once again with 259,000 units, well ahead of the Xbox 360 at 199,000. The PlayStation 3 lagged behind both the PSP and the Game Boy Advance at 130,000 units sold.

What to conclude? In a nutshell, people want innovative and accessible games for cheap. The PS3 is innovative but not cheap; the XBox is not that innovative, just evolutionary, and still pricey. The Wii has both at a low price point, and the DS is cheaper still – and judging from the blowout of the DS over the PS2, price matters more than innovation.

I think this kind of sounds the death knell of the old gamer marketing model. The elite gamers who can dish out $600 for the latest console just can’t carry the market anymore. Those consoles actually lose money on every sale, in fact! Expect to see the PS$ and the next iteration of the XBox to reverse course and offer only marginal hardware improvements, and a new “shtick” aimed at capturing away some of the enormous, heretofore unsuspected family gaming market. That’s where the profits and the market share lie. The hard core types still have the PC market, after all. The rest of us are willing to wait two years for a $250 PS3.


Old news, but still:

During an extended technical demonstration for a new, unnamed Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 Star Wars title, LucasArts staff have confirmed to Gamasutra the company’s intense interest in creating a Wii lightsaber game, if not yet its explicit existence.

At the end of the demonstration, Gamasutra inquired as to whether the company planned on creating a lightsaber game for the Wii, after many commented on he suitability of the system to the concept – especially after an internal speaker was revealed in the controller being used to demo the concept.

This question produced a number of knowing smiles around the room from LucasArts employees, followed by the comments: “We know” and “We are looking into it”, as possible concepts for the game were discussed. However, the firm has not yet made any official announcements regarding planned Wii titles.

UPDATE: This seems relevant. Imagine: me in my living room, you in yours, and we engage in a duel. I’m toast.

Soon we will all be able to unleash our inner Star Wars Kids… Continue reading “Wii-sabre”

help is on the way

Sony will rush more PS3’s to US retailers to help with the “shortage”. So now my local WalMart will have four on the shelf instead of two sitting unsold. You have to give Sony points for wishful thinking!

Do I even need to mention the obvious: the Wii outsold every other game console system in January. This despite the “shortages” of PS3 and the actual shortages of the Wii on shelves.

Incidentally, last weekend I discovered the Virtual Console on the Wii. I downloaded Super Mario Brothers and man, that took me back… I need to get Ice Hockey next! (Plus, web browsing on the Wii using the free Opera browser is pretty awesome. I’ll post a screenshot…)