The news for Nintendo is bleak. Sales are down 50% year-to-year. They posted a first quarter loss of $327 million. They’ve dropped their profit forecast by 82%. And they’ve slashed the price of the 3DS 32% in dollars (even more in yen). As a gamer with a DSi XL and a Wii, none of this particularly surprises me. Nintendo have made a series of disastrous mis-steps. Problem #1 is that they gave up on serious gamers.
I was at Staple!: The Independent Media Expo at the weekend. As I browsed the stalls, I wandered into range of a conversation between (I think) a guy from Dreampunk Productions, and someone who mentioned that he was a video game developer. Nothing unusual so far, there are a lot of video game developers around Austin. They were talking about a comic strip I hadn’t heard of, and the artists’ interest in making a video game about it–also not unusual.
GamePro reports NPD sales data: Console <th> June sales </th> Wii <td> 666,700 </td> PS3 <td> 405,500 </td> Xbox 360 <td> 219,800 </td> PS2 <td> 188,800 </td> Of note, these are sales to end users, not number of consoles shipped; Microsoft prefers to cite the latter. The Wii is now the #1 console in the US by installed base. So it seems as though as predicted, the Xbox 360’s best days could be behind it.
I noticed that The Edge magazine has an article in a recent issue asking if boss fights are a cliché that should be wiped out. My vote is an enthusiastic and wholehearted yes. Last night I got to the penultimate battle of “Prince of Persia: Rival Swords”. After about half an hour of frustration and annoyance, I gave up. The rest of the game was great, but the last major battle (with the Vizier) exemplifies everything that’s lame and sucky about traditional “boss fights”, with some Wii-specific obnoxiousness added to the mix.
Microsoft’s Xbox division has announced their results for Fiscal Year 2006. Highlights: Total loss of $1.2 billion. Operating losses up 183%. Revenues down 10% YTY in Q4 because of “decreased Xbox 360 console sales”; specifically… Sales dropped from 1.8 million units per quarter to just 700,000 units per quarter, YTY. Revenue from sales of games down 28%. This is awesome news, making it six years of losses to date. Microsoft say they expect to make a profit in the upcoming year.
The Wii arrived today. So far we’ve played bowling and tennis. It really is as much fun as I’d hoped; we ended up laughing and bouncing around and breaking a mild sweat. Perhaps later in the week we’ll try Rayman Raving Rabbids and smack some bunnies with rubber plungers. The whole Wii experience is very slick, from the packaging the console comes in to the user interface of the software itself.
Perhaps the kidney stone in the urethra of Nintendo’s supply chain is finally passing, because Wii is now starting to appear in stores. Controllers are readily available, and I managed to put in an order on Toys”R”Us’s web site during one of the 6 minute periods when the console was in stock. So, hopefully in a week or two we’ll be Wii-ing. Ironically, I finally saw screen shots of a couple of PS3 games that interest me: Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction and LittleBigPlanet.
We’ve been out getting the food for Christmas. The supermarket sells corn for squirrels—it even has a picture of a squirrel on the bag. I also picked up a big $3 bag of sunflower seeds, it’ll be their Christmas gift. The man standing behind us in the checkout queue was a squirrel skeptic. “You’re feeding rats!” We got a fake tree this year, after Mythbusters covered how much damage a tree can do if it catches on fire and rothko decided she didn’t want a real tree in the house after all.
I now have a Wii… …component video cable. Now all I need is the actual console. I figured the cable would be the tougher piece to get, because they were only available by direct order from Nintendo, but it turns out the console is still near impossible to find in Austin.
I have an ear infection. I’m not really sure how I got it. The only thing I’ve stuck in my ear recently is a finger, so I must have nicked my inner ear with a sharp bit of fingernail or something. So now my lymph nodes are swollen and my ear aches and my head is throbbing in sympathy. It’s my right ear. This presents a problem, as I generally sleep on my right side.