Monday, April 21, 2008

Mike Capps: Wii is a Virus

Mike Capps, president of Epic Games, made the most accurate summary of the Wii I have heretofore heard:

It's a virus where you buy it and you play it with your friends and they're like, "Oh my God that's so cool, I'm gonna go buy it." So you stop playing it after two months, but they buy it and they stop playing it after two months but they've showed it to someone else who then go out and buy it and so on. Everyone I know bought one and nobody turns it on. Obviously there's a class of people who really love it and enjoy it and are getting into the games but I'm still waiting for that one game that makes me play it.

The only word I would add to his assessment is "gimmick".


Mike Lewis said...

there were not any games that made we want to get an xbox until portal came out. Portal was a gimmick. it made me buy orange box. i than bought bioshock. which was also fun.

Mike Lewis said...

also, isnt this how capitalism always works?

_J_ said...

"also, isnt this how capitalism always works?"

Capitalism does not require that people stop using the system two months after purchase. But with regard to friends purchasing items other friends own? Sure, that's how capitalism works. But I did not think that "Financial success within the free market" was the sort of rubric by which we assessed video game quality.

Unless it is...In which case World of Warcraft is the best game ever because 10 million people play it.

The Wii really is a virus-gimmick. It has nothing to offer other than the revolutionary leap from pressing A to shaking a stick. Thus far the only games on the systems are remakes of everything else Nintendo has ever done and No More Heroes, which can go fuck itself.

My mom bought a Wii because she played it at a party and it was so cool. Now it sits in the basement because people who buy Wiis as a result of playing them at parties are not the sort of people who play Wii.

A few weekends ago I was at the Adam's apartment. On Saturday he was at his computer playing Starcraft, his girlfriend was playing an RPG on their PS2, and I was playing WoW on my laptop. The Wii in the room? Sat there unplayed. When I was at Kyle's House? We played Starcraft, Diablo, and WoW. The Wii? Sat there unplayed.

And that's what Mike Capps is talking about, I think. Initially the Wii manifests a feeling of delight and curiosity because, again, you get to shake a stick intead of pressing A. But once the novelty wears off? It's just another stupid Nintendo console.

Roscoe said...

I call bullshit on this. Becuase that's the way EVERY system works. Hell, the Nintendo didn't have a massive launch line up, and the majority of games that DID come out shortly afterwards were equally take or leave. But we ALL love and respect the old grey rectangle.

The games on the Wii are no more remakes than Die Harder is a remake of Die Hard. Are they sequels? yeah.. is Mario Galaxy the same as Mario 64? Not remotely.

I'll grant you that the Wiimote is skewing the whole thing into a new, and yeah, gimmicky, dimension, which is likely suppressing title volume and quality.. but I think you're attributing far too much to that alone.

How often did you PSone sit unused when others game over? how often did you use your ps2, when people were over, if they didn't feel like GH? So.. you know.. calling bs on the GroupPlay dynamic as criterion as well.

I think, if anything, the Wii has oversuccessfully branded/marketed itself as one thing - a group/casual/party machine, and provided a reasonable selection of titles outside that niche that are ignored out of hand.

_J_ said...

"is Mario Galaxy the same as Mario 64? Not remotely."

Each are the token launch-era game for the system. While we can certainly look at the particular aspects of each game to praise their differences Mario games are still Nintendo's Madden.

And we've all mocked Madden and questioned the sanity of people who buy the same game every year. But fans of Madden? They will point to the differences and justify their purchased by basing their arguments on nuanced points of differences between each iteration of the game.

Which is what Mario fanboys do.

"the Wii has oversuccessfully branded/marketed itself as one thing - a group/casual/party machine, and provided a reasonable selection of titles outside that niche that are ignored out of hand."

Again, Mike Capps is talking about the Wii's ability to get people who don't buy gaming machines to buy gaming machines. So the bulk of Wii purchases are by people who are not going to play the machine with the regularity that, say, your average Call of Duty player will play its X-box.

I'm still waiting for a game that makes the Wii something other than a joke. The lack of graphics, processing power, and reasonable internal storage were all primarily justified by the shaky stick. And from what I've seen nothing but Wii bowling has justified the shaky stick.

If you're not going to put a hard drive in the thing, support online play as a primary function of the system, or beef up the graphics or processing power of the system then the thing you do offer (shaky stick) really needs to offset the losses of those other components.

So far? They've given us Wii Bowling and a bunch of other programs that could easily function with pushing a fucking button.

Not that I didn't love having to raise the remote to punch a fucking block in Mario Party.

Roscoe said...

I beg to differ. That's like saying every FF is the same game.

Don't mistake franchise for churn. The Madden gripes stem very much from the EA 90's churn. Forcing out product yearly to justify the liscence.

If your case is to justify buying a gaming machine to those who, by definition, don't buy them, then.. I have to ask... Why are you looking for the things that appeal to gamers in the machine? Your demographic has no real preference on that account. If they did, they'd be gamers/ those who buy and expect things in a gaming machine, wouldn't they? By definition?
Seems kinda counterproductive to expect such concerns from a demographic whose sole defining feature is that they are unconcerned about the minutiae and technicals of gaming systems.

_J_ said...

"That's like saying every FF is the same game."

That depends on who you are.

The thing I hate about the "it's the same thing" argument in gaming in how very much the user's own thoughts on a particular game influence the use of the phrase. I can argue that questing in Nagrand is different from questing in Hellfire Peninsula. Someone who hates WoW? Will say it is the same thing.

Someone who likes Mario will focus on the nuances of different versions of Mario games. Someone who hates Mario will say they are the same thing.

And while it's great to argue in a nuanced way about games we liked an in an unfamiliar, biased way about games we hate it may be best to be objective and admit that, yeah, games which are part of a series probably have lots of things in common.

"Seems kinda counterproductive to expect such concerns from a demographic whose sole defining feature is that they are unconcerned about the minutiae and technicals of gaming systems."

The point is that...well...I'll let this Kotaku article speak to that: Wii owners don't buy games

If the primary source of support for a system is a group of people unfamiliar with and unconcerned with gaming as a hobby and rather are individuals who will buy the system, play it for a month, and then put it in a closet? There is no longevity to the financial success of the system.

_J_ said...

Nothing? Come on.

Roscoe said...

I had a post last night... on mom's comp. I hit post, then back, to get on with browsing. It never posted.

It was longer, but basically called you out on judging the longterm viability of a system that is allready cheaper to produce and still in demand than it's competitors. It's still profitable, and the criteria you're looking at don't define long term viability, only short term sales.

You're looking at demographic B, and judging them according to the needs of classic demographic A, still. By your admission, these numbers are hugely distorted by new, outside buyers. But you persist in reading things according to the usual pattern of sales, to the usual market, and then making assumptions about the Wii according to those rubrics.

Counterpoint/supportive of your Kotaku link is the Nick's annecdote taht with Gamestop in town, he's suddenly flooding with used games... for everything but the Wii. Now, either no one's buying.. which isn't directly true. Brawl sold great guns on release, but dropped off quicker than anticipated (I can wager odds on why, too, and it's got everything to do with how the demand for used Smash never EVER dropped and overproduction based on that. Nick's words are that no one is reselling, though.

People are buying conservatively perhaps.. but not selling. If that's the case, then wouldn't that seem to suggest the system is actually doing reasonably well? Perhaps too well, even? if you assume the resale market represents those who want, but don't have the regular means to buy?

_J_ said...

"But you persist in reading things according to the usual pattern of sales, to the usual market, and then making assumptions about the Wii according to those rubrics."

I and everyone else.

The issue mentioned in the Kotaku thread repeatedly which, unlike other issues mentioned in Kotaku posts, seems to mesh with reality is that a significant chunk of Wiis were purchased as "Wii Sports" machines by individuals who will not buy other games for the system.

Look at Brawl. Sales dropped 90% over the first four weeks. The people who wanted Brawl bought it the first week and then people stopped buying it.

So when you combine those two facts, the 90% dropoff rate of sales for Brawl and people buying Wiis as Wii Sports machines, what does that say about the life of the machine as a whole?

It may be too narrow a view to take and truly indicative of nothing. But I think what Mike Capps said has some foundation in reality which is supported, in part, from Brawl sales numbers.

MA17 said...

Appears to me that no matter how many Wiis Nintendo sells, they're only going to be selling games to a GameCube-sized crowd. The Wii, in this respect, is a GCN plus mass appeal, meaning that whereas the Cube sold no units and no games, the Wii will sell millions of units and no games. And as stupid and frustrating as it may be to admit it, that's an improvement because the only thing that might kill Nintendo is something that sells worse than the Cube, not something that sells better.

_J_ said...

The problem with focusing on multiplayer games is that if, say, eight people get together to play Mario Party only one person needs to own the game and the system.

Which is another of Nintendo's "problems".

I enjoyed playing Crystal Chronicles, Mario Kart, Smash Brothers, Mario fucking Tennis, etc. on the Gamecube. But I never bought a Gamecube or any of the games. I bought a controller because that was all I needed to buy.

And while I appreciate Nintendo making games that I can play without ever buying it's a pretty fucking stupid marketing strategy.

MA17 said...

True, only one person in a group NEEDS a Wii, but according to Capps, they all wind up with one. Hence the virus thing.

Interestingly, Nintendo apparently makes a profit on each Wii sold (here;here), so they don't have to rely on selling games to make the platform profitable! They already have your money and you can toss your Wii in a lake for all they care! It's the perfect crime!

And even if you're one of those guys who doesn't buy a Wii after playing at a party, SOMEBODY has to buy all those extra controllers and nunchucks! The Wii doesn't even need games other than Sports! Hell, they could shave a couple bucks of production if they just removed the EJECT button! Nobody's going to use it!


Roscoe said...

The Teev has far more succintly made the point that I blithered on and on about, I think.

I hate you, sir, and I think you well know it. You and your clarity of thought. Take it and begone from me!

kylebrown said...

I take offense to equating the Mario platformers that are the flagship for each new console to Madden. While it is true that new Marios, with many of the same elements are reproduced on a regular basis, one major difference exists. New Mario games come along to emphasize the new features and capabilities (outside of Mario 2 obviously, but it was still a drastic graphical and gameplay improvement over the original) of said system or other technological advances. They are not produced each year on a yearly basis to rape the consumers who buy it religiously. I could be wrong but believe that since the SNES (discounting handhelds, which are Nintendo's bread and butter currently and can do no wrong with) there has been only one Mario platformer for each system, with the qualifier that it is a true super mario game, this then doesn't count yoshi games and paper mario games.

_J_ said...

Certainly there are differences between Mario and Madden. The original point was: "is Mario Galaxy the same as Mario 64? Not remotely."

And saying that Mario Galaxy and Mario 64 are "not remotely" similar is pretty asinine given that, as Kyle said, "Mario platformers that are the flagship for each new console"

There are similarities between all the mario games, all the Pokémon games, to all games which are part of a series.

And all of that was a result of something Roscoe said in the 4th post about remakes which, as I read it again, doesn't make much sense.

And I think ma17 brought us full circle by...mostly saying what Mike Capps said only in a more diabolical fashion. Unless he was being sarcastic. But the internet is not a place for sarcasm.

The internet is serious business.

Roscoe said...

There's a post on Kotaku, looks like it was posted yesterday, but i'm getting caught up...

Anyways.. the post cites Reggie Fils-Amines (sp?), the Nintendo of America boss, with the statistic of even now, the demand for Wiis have new units sitting on shelves for an average of an hour before selling, even as North America alone gets 40% of the global Wii supply.

Now.. this leads me to a big question, one that's possibly at the heart of this. This fact SEEMS to suggest the Wii as a virus is correct.. but it also has the implication that Nintendo is setting up a truly BROAD market for later titles, as well as explaining , in part, the slower title selling/fast drop offs. Measurable demand for the titles is not limited by acquisition of the system, you know.

The thing that intruiges me about this is this idea that Nintendo is building a vast sleeper market, if you will. They'll have the people buying the usual games that sell on every system or on every Nintendo system... But they'll also have this half-forgotten silent user base that could, if properly sold to, rise up and turn a title into a platinum super-seller, akin to the DS Brain Training/Big Brain wave.

Basically, what I'm getting at is, Nintendo is building up an ace in the hole, as to the system's successfulness, and they could, not necessarily will, but could, explode, much like a Magic combo deck, wherein it looks like it's failing until it hits the Go Turn, when everything operates at once...

_J_ said...

If people buy games for the Wii then, yes, it could be that sort of thing. Saturate the market with Wiis, release a game, sell a bunch of copies.

But they've already have people who have purchased Wiis who have yet to purchase any games for the Wii.

So you can't really build a theory that people who don't buy games will eventually buy games given that there is nothing upon which to build such a theory.

Except speculation.

And I can speculate that people will not buy Wii games just as easily as someone else can speculate taht people will buy Wii games.