In its eighth year, the Wii is one of the most innovative and successful game consoles ever. Its focus on game play over cutting edge graphics and its innovative motion controller made it stand out from other consoles. It’s cartoon-like graphics and games were a good alternative for kids to the gory titles on the PS3 and Xbox (not that they don’t exist on the Wii). According to Nintendo, over 100 million consoles have been sold worldwide. Despite those sales numbers, Nintendo has failed to find a way to continue that success with its latest console, the Wii U.
The Wii is still in use in our home and in the middle of the long New England winter, it finally gave it out after years of loyal service. The console itself still powered on, it just couldn’t read discs anymore. After a bunch of troubleshooting, I narrowed it down to either the DVD drive’s laser or the motor died. Given a new drive which included the laser was well under $25, it seemed like a no brainer to just replace the whole drive. Beside your standard small Phillips screwdrivers, you’ll also need the proprietary tri-wing screwdriver for a buck. Taking apart the Wii was akin to peeling an onion, layer after layer secured with lots of tiny screws. Thanks to the YouTube video below, the whole operation took less than an hour and the Wii was up and running again.
However, our victory was short-lived when we found out that Nintendo was pulling the plug on its WiFi Gaming service for the Wii and DS portable. The service provides Internet game play for titles including Mario Kart. My kids were bummed as they love to play MarioKart with other players from around the world. Also, without a chat function, it was a safe on-line experience for kids. Unlike Xbox Live, there was no additional charge for using the service. So, I guess I shouldn’t be totally surprised that’s it going away. However, it’s definitely a lost opportunity for Nintendo.
Nintendo is probably hoping that discontinuing the service will encourage folks to move to the Wii U. Just in time for the shutdown, Nintendo is releasing Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U by itself and as part of a limited edition Wii U console bundle. So far, I’ve only seen pre-order options at Game Stop and Best Buy so it appears the distribution is fairly limited. The scarcity approach doesn’t seem to be a good strategy for selling mass market game consoles.
Instead using the stick of shutting off on-line play, it would be nice if Nintendo offered a carrot to the hundred million existing Wii owners to encourage them to migrate to the Wii U. Given the backwards compatibility with games and controllers, why not folks let trade in their old consoles for a Wii U discount? Not offering an incentive or another way to capture current owners feels like defeat at the hands of Bowser.