NINTENDO WII STEALS CHRISTMAS
It was a year that that will live long in the memory of Nintendo employees – as Wii changed the games industry almost overnight when it arrived worldwide in November and December 2006.
UK retailers that had rejected GameCube on the basis of poor sales were back on board and the Wii was an instant sell-out.
The console launched with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Ubisoft’s Red Steel and Rayman Raving Rabbids. But it was Wii Sports – which was bundled with the machine – and the Mii Channel that caught consumer imagination, while the hardcore delighted in Nintendo’s retro Virtual Console.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing. Nintendo promised there would be plenty of stock, but not even they had foreseen the console’s popularity and heavy shortages continued for the next two years.
Meanwhile, the Wii name was a source of much ridicule when it was revealed in April of that year. Nintendo’s UK boss David Yarnton defended the name in the pages of MCV, insisting that we would get used to it. And we did.
THE DEATH OF E3
Publishers had had enough of E3 following the 2006 show.
The event was proving to be too hectic and costs were spiralling. So organiser ESA announced in July 2006 the E3 Business and Media Summit, which would focus on lower-key press events and meetings.
However, this came at the expense of the European trade, who instead had to rely on the Leipzig Games Convention.
Nevertheless, the new E3 didn’t last long, with the show returning to its old format this year.
PS3 ARRIVES... OVERSEAS
Despite a promise a worldwide launch (SCEE president David Reeves said PAL PS3’s would be the first machines off the production line), Europe had to wait until 2007 to get their hands on PS3.
The reason for the delay was down to the lack of stock available for Japanese and US consumers – who got their hands on the machine in December 2006. Availability was limited, and the PlayStation 3 sold out almost instantly in these territories.
DS STEAMS AHEAD
The Nintendo DS had a great start in 2005, but it wasn’t until the DS Lite launched in June 2006 that Nintendo pulled away from Sony’s PSP. The updated hardware sold 200,000 units in Europe in its first ten days alone.
With a sleeker design and games such as Brain Training, Nintendo managed to attract a much larger audience, and the DS Lite became the hottest Christmas gift of 2006. Much like Wii, the DS Lite was almost impossible to find come December.
ROCKSTAR'S BULLY IS BANNED
Poor ol’ Rockstar. Following the Manhunt debacle in 2004 and the Hot Coffee furore in 2005, the developer once again came under fire for Bully on PS2 (Canis Canem Edit in the UK). The likes of US lawyer Jack Thompson came out of the woodwork to condemn the game for promoting bullying, even though it did no such thing. In fact Bully was one of Rockstar’s least violent releases. But that didn’t stop Comet and PC World refusing to stock the title, and the debate over video game violence continuing.
2006: THE KEY GAME RELEASES
Wii Sports - Nintendo
No standalone SKU meant it was discounted from the charts but Wii Sports is one of the most popular games in the world.
Guitar Hero - Activision
One of today’s biggest-selling video game franchises arrived in Europe in 2006. Guitar Hero 2 was also released that year.
Gears of War - Microsoft
Epic’s Xbox 360 system shifter was a huge success on release. It won multiple awards and sold 6m units worldwide.
New Super Mario Bros - Nintendo
The first 2D Mario game in 14 years arrived on DS in 2006. The critics loved it. It’s sold over 18m units globally to date.
Brain Training - Nintendo
This DS Lite launch title was a smash hit, and remains in the DS Top Ten to this day. It helped expand games to new audiences.
2006: UK's BEST SELLING GAME
1. FIFA 07 (EA)
2. Pro Evolution Soccer 6 (Konami)
3. Need for Speed: Carbon (EA)
4. GTA: Liberty City Stories (Rockstar)
5. LEGO Star Wars II (LucasArts)
6. The Sims 2: Pets (EA)
7. Cars (THQ)
8. Tomb Raider: Legends (Sony)
9. The Sims 2 (Activision)
10. WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 07 (THQ)