The interactive unit, along with the handheld DS – last year’s best-selling console – have famously returned the Japanese company, which pioneered the console revolution back in the 80s, to the top of the games pile. It lost ground more recently to high-tech rivals such as Sega, Sony and Microsoft. Now it’s back, outselling Sony’s more expensive Playstation 3 by three to one in Japan in December, and by two to one in the US, and proving so popular here that shops couldn’t keep up with demand. Suddenly the announcement from kids that they needed a Wii had a whole new meaning.
It’s all a measure of the success of Nintendo’s refocused approach. By targeting young girls, women and the more mature user, it has tapped into a whole new market for its products. Its previous flagship handheld, the Game Boy, made it clear where it was aimed, just in its name. Now female commuters, for example, who would hardly be happy to sit ripping spines out of opponents on Mortal Kombat, are happy to be seen engaged in ‘brain training’ on the Nintendo DS.
But it doesn’t stop at the yoof and women. There was news of old peoples’ home in Edgbaston where residents are apparently addicted to the machine, regularly locking horns over the Wii’s tennis and golf games. Then earlier this month it emerged that trainee surgeons are honing their scalpel skills by playing too. Researchers found they performed 48% better at practice operations after playing the games, which made them more proficient at making the smooth accurate movements required by their craft. Nintendo’s strategy has clearly given the company an extra life.