OPINION: Wii got what we need

So the answer to my question last week about how the market copes in the gap before ‘Wii 2′ was answered pretty swiftly.

Answered with a price cut that has the potential to significantly lengthen the life of this generation’s star machine. It’s Wii’s first price-drop after nearly five years (in fact, it had a temporary price increase back in 2009…) versus two for PS3, and four for 360.

As the editor of the leading games trade magazine, I know all too well that the Wii price drop is sweet relief for retail.

And as a new father, I can see that the positioning of the hardware as effectively ‘My First Games Console’ is a great move.

At its current configuration, Nintendo’s machine is nearing its limit. Traditional games, lapsed gamers, new gamers, older mums and dads, the elderly… I don’t really have to go on any more about the wider audience Nintendo has brought to the market with the Wii. 86m units later, the machine lived up to its ‘revolutionary’ codename.

However there are a finite number of those consumers out there. What about the next generation of gamers?
Pushing the Wii down the chain to them (and their parents), is perfect. There are 1.5m households out there of 30-something parents with children aged five to nine years old. A specific yet big group, probably with a regular churn rate.

These are the children we’ll want to grow up with an appreciation for games. They won’t be just Nintendo converts, but Xbox consumers, PlayStation fans, and so on.

Plus, it’s decent momentum in the face of tween-pleasing online games and apps that do a good job of engaging with really young audiences in ways the console manufacturers just otherwise haven’t figured out.

More aggressive, market-driving 99 deals are inevitable, as may be things like a general slimming down of Wii third-party support as Nintendo pushes towards a younger audience.

But no matter. We’re just days away from learning what Wii’s successor will feel like. If ‘Wii 2′ is the carrot, the price cut is the stick; incentive to carry us through the console’s lengthy old-age.

Don’t forget: PS2 hit 150m well after its presumed sell-by-date thanks to a low RRP and cheap, kid-friendly software. Wii looks set to follow the same trend. And who’s to say there isn’t another 60m sales in it over the years ahead.

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