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NY Times: "Nintendo’s Wii, Radiating Fun, Is Eclipsing Sony Machine"

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NY Times: "Nintendo’s Wii, Radiating Fun, Is Eclipsing Sony Machine"

Old 01-31-07, 11:23 AM
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NY Times: "Nintendo’s Wii, Radiating Fun, Is Eclipsing Sony Machine"

Nice Article in the NY Times on the growing popularity of the Wii:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/31/te...ref=technology


January 31, 2007
Nintendo’s Wii, Radiating Fun, Is Eclipsing Sony Machine
By MATT RICHTEL
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 30 — Some of the video game industry’s smartest minds thought that couch potatoes wanted richer graphics and more challenging virtual worlds. It turns out that a lot of potatoes simply wanted to get off the couch.

That may be the best explanation for the growing popularity of the Nintendo Wii, the new video game system that has players jumping, punching and swinging, giving them an aerobic workout right in front of their television sets.

The Wii, which uses an innovative wireless controller to translate the players’ motions onto the screen, has upset the order of the video game world. In electronics stores and elsewhere, there are growing signs that the Wii has taken the lead in buzz and sales over another new console, the Sony PlayStation 3, which offers new superlatives in processing power and graphics.

The competitive picture became clearer on Tuesday, when Sony reported disappointing profits that industry analysts attributed largely to the expensive and shaky rollout of the PlayStation 3 and lukewarm demand for the complex machines. By contrast, Nintendo said last week that its own third-quarter sales were up 40 percent from a year earlier, buoyed by Wii sales.

Both consoles were hard to come by during the holiday shopping season. This week, visits to stores in San Francisco, New York, Boston and Austin, Tex., turned up several with PlayStation 3’s in stock, while the Wii was sold out.

The PlayStation, reflecting Sony’s longstanding dominance, seemed destined to be the one that gamers would snap up. But the Wii is winning many converts who are playing games by moving not just their thumbs but the whole complement of limbs.

“You’re up and you’re moving, and it makes you feel more involved,” said Tracy Ciardiello, 28, a stay-at-home mother in Berkeley Springs, W. Va., who bought one of the last Wiis available at a Wal-Mart nearby on Sunday morning. “After an hour, a thing pops on the screen that says, ‘Why not take a rest?’ That just made me laugh.”

The Wii and the PlayStation 3 were both released in November and are competing with the Microsoft Xbox 360, also a more powerful game machine. It is a battle with immense stakes, given that the video game industry generated more than $12 billion in sales last year.

It is too early to declare a winner. Video game industry analysts said one question hanging over the Wii was whether it was a fad, or whether it would end up creating a new generation of more casual game players — or even become a viable alternative to more powerful machines.

But it appears that Nintendo has already created an unexpected three-way contest, while calling into question conventional wisdom that video games are the domain of testosterone-driven gadget freaks who can zone out for hours while conquering computer-generated foes.

“Nintendo came at things sideways — they made stuff that’s silly and fun,” said Jeff Gerstmann, senior editor of GameSpot, a Web site with video game news and reviews. “It has created a new style of gaming.”

Nintendo recently announced that during the holiday quarter, it shipped 3.2 million Wii consoles and sold 17.5 million games. Sony said it shipped 1.84 million PlayStation 3’s in the quarter, and sold 5.2 million copies of game software for the console.

Nintendo might sell more Wiis if it could make and ship more of them. Company officials said they are shipping around a million worldwide every month, half of those to the United States, but retailers say they cannot keep them in stock.

“The last time they were here, we had 40 and they sold out in 15 minutes,” said John Weeks, who works in the electronics department of the Target store at South Bay Center in Boston. The Wii was last in stock there on Sunday and sold out quickly, making the console physically demanding for shoppers as well.

“I heard there were people here at 5 a.m. waiting,” Mr. Weeks said.

Target shoppers in search of a PlayStation 3, however, were in luck. In addition to the handful out on the floor on Tuesday, there were at least 15 PlayStations in back waiting to be sold.

Retailers around the country said that while the PlayStations had been selling well, they were generally remaining on the shelves for a few days or a week.

Helping the Wii is its $249 price, compared with $499 or $599 for the PlayStation 3, depending on the model, and $299 or $399 for the Xbox. The competition seems to be benefiting all three companies by getting consumers interested in a medium that has languished a bit.

Dave Karraker, a spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment of America, said the Wii did not belong in the same category as the more powerful PlayStation 3. “Wii could be considered an impulse buy more than anything else,” he declared.

Mr. Karraker said Sony was selling out the 100,000 PlayStation 3 units it was shipping into the United States each week, albeit somewhat more slowly than before Christmas. “The frenzy we saw at the holidays has subsided a bit,” he said.

Besides, Mr. Karraker added, Sony thinks the Wii is attracting newcomers, while the PlayStation will be the console of choice for hard-core and committed gamers.

So is the Wii expanding the video game market, or is it stealing customers from Sony and Microsoft?

For Will Brazelton, 23, a student at San Francisco State University, the answer is both. An avid gamer, he said he planned to buy a PlayStation 3 eventually, but he was in a local EB Games store on Monday seeking a Wii. He said the system seemed especially fun. Also, his sister, even though she is not an avid gamer, had agreed to pay half.

Alas, the store had no Wiis, and the manager, Joe Conforti, told Mr. Brazelton that there was not any sure path to getting one.

It is “basically luck,” Mr. Conforti advised. He said the calls were coming in hourly from people interested in a Wii, and that when stock does come in, it lasts only an hour or two.

For some serious gamers, it is not a question of choosing among systems. Robert Davis, 29, a martial-arts instructor who lives in Canarsie, Brooklyn, and owns a PlayStation 3, an Xbox 360 and a Wii, said the Nintendo console was an enjoyable alternative but not a replacement for the more advanced machines. “It’s fun mainly because it’s different, but once that wears off, some people are just couch potatoes,” he said.

Perrin Kaplan, vice president for marketing at Nintendo of America, said the Wii was changing the perception of what kinds of games adults like to play. The console, she said, “has turned it all upside down.”

Ms. Kaplan bristled at Sony’s suggestion that the Wii only appeared to be in higher demand because there had been fewer shipments of it. “That’s absolutely inaccurate,” she said, adding that Nintendo was at least equaling Sony’s shipments.

Still, analysts said the challenges for the Wii included whether Nintendo and third-party developers would produce enough games to keep console owners and prospective buyers happy. GameSpot said developers planned to release some 76 games for the Wii in 2007, compared with 127 for PlayStation 3.

“At the end of the day, Wii is a terrific secondary system for hard-core gamers,” Mr. Gerstmann of Game- Spot said. But he added that many such gamers had not yet embraced PlayStation 3. “They’re waiting for the good games to come out,” he said.

Some gamers echoed that sentiment. “If I get the PlayStation 3, it would be after the price drops and I see what new games come out,” said Alex Chan, 23, a graduate student from Sacramento, who was with some friends at an EB Games store in the CambridgeSide Galleria Mall in Cambridge, Mass. He said he already had a PlayStation 2 and was interested in getting a Wii.

The Ciardiello family, in West Virginia, are converts to Nintendo, having made a transition from the PlayStation 2. Ms. Ciardiello, who has three young children, said her husband did some research about which console to buy. She said he liked the idea of getting started without spending a lot of time reading a manual — and, more fundamentally, being a bit active while they played.

That part, she said, has been borne out. “My husband broke a sweat playing golf on there,” she said.
Old 01-31-07, 11:50 AM
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i especially loved the Sony rep saying that the Wii is an "impulse buy"
Old 01-31-07, 11:52 AM
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Dave Karraker, a spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment of America, said the Wii did not belong in the same category as the more powerful PlayStation 3. “Wii could be considered an impulse buy more than anything else,” he declared.
I see this thrown around a lot about the Wii, but I have to disagree. $250 is still a lot of money to a lot of people. $250 is hardly an impulse buy.

he planned to buy a PlayStation 3 eventually, but he was in a local EB Games store on Monday seeking a Wii.
“If I get the PlayStation 3, it would be after the price drops and I see what new games come out,” said Alex Chan, 23, a graduate student from Sacramento, who was with some friends at an EB Games store in the CambridgeSide Galleria Mall in Cambridge, Mass. He said he already had a PlayStation 2 and was interested in getting a Wii.
Everyone always talks about how the Wii is the perfect complimentary console to either the PS3 or 360, but it almost sounds like the PS3 is the complimentary console to the Wii.
Old 01-31-07, 11:52 AM
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Great minds... I was typing mine up while you posted.
Old 01-31-07, 11:55 AM
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i seem to share a lot of views you do. Doesn't really surprise me



then again, i read this article about an hour and a half ago, and that was the lasting impression I got.

Regardless IF that were the case, and people were buying Wiis as an impulse, it doesn't change the fact that the demand for the Wii isn't stopping anytime soon
Old 01-31-07, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by KurrptSenate
i especially loved the Sony rep saying that the Wii is an "impulse buy"
Nice slam from a company that has benefited greatly from the PS2 being an impulse buy. Sony has to be close to panic mode at this point.
Old 01-31-07, 12:02 PM
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One more thing regarding "impulse" buying. That infers that people see it sitting on a shelf and on a whim decide to pick it up. That is hardly the case. People are seeking them out and camping out in lines, STILL, to find a Wii.

Once Wii is easily available and still flying off the shelves then he may be right, but until then, Mr. Sony Rep is off his rocker.
Old 01-31-07, 12:28 PM
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I was thinking more of price point, but you are exactly right. A console that people still camp out for is hardly an impulse purchase. You have to plan to get one and probably will for awhile.
Old 01-31-07, 12:35 PM
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Obviously the Sony rep has to say something to discourage purchasing a Wii. I'm a hardcore gamer and work in the industry and with my Wii and 360, I can't foresee any reason to purchase a PS3. The number of exclusive titles in relation to the cost of the system is nowhere near the motivation to go grab one. Straight up graphics/gameplay alone in a PS3 vs. 360 comparrison leaves me more than pleased with my 360.

5-600 bucks isn't worth it for a few games in the next 12 months.
Old 01-31-07, 03:26 PM
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You have to put yourself into the suit of a Sony exec to even attempt to understand their point of view. These people really feel $500-$600 is not a lot of money to the people that fueled the PS1 or PS2 juggernaut, so, to them $250 might as well be a 5 dollar bill.

The blaring problem I see for Sony is when you launch a product and the "hardcore gamers" and "brand loyalists" are even stating that they won't buy your system without a price drop.
Old 02-01-07, 01:49 AM
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LOL. This reminds me of this quote:
"The touch screen feature on Nintendo's DS is a 'gimmick', whilst the handheld is nothing more than 'an irrelevance' when it comes to predicting the success of the PSP. That's the view of Sony's VP of studios Phil Harrison, who made the remarks in an interview with trade magazine MCV."

And this lovely quote:
'Nintendo knows its target audience, because it has really narrowed that down,' continued Harrison. 'It’s pretty much defined by a boy or girl’s ability to admire Pokémon."

riiiiiight guys
Old 02-01-07, 02:26 AM
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I wonder how many people have actually been in a position to "impulse buy" a Wii? LOL!
It's not like they are just laying around in stores.

EDIT: sorry hadn't read the whole thread yet.
Old 02-01-07, 02:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Outlaw
And this lovely quote:
'Nintendo knows its target audience, because it has really narrowed that down,' continued Harrison. 'It’s pretty much defined by a boy or girl’s ability to admire Pokémon."
Mmmm. . . that is lovely.

Let's see: I love my new DS, I hate all things Pokemon, and I have zero interest in anything having to do with the PSP.

Yep, I'd say Sony's got me all figured out. . .
Old 02-01-07, 03:50 AM
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As long as people are SEEKING out Wii's, waiting in lines, camping, then it cannot be classified as an "impulse buy".
Old 02-01-07, 08:38 AM
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After I picked up the Wii and showcased it to my brother in law, I believe he did make an impulse buy as he stalked wiiytracker for a week and then finally picked one up.

This gaming system is awesome, and Sony is in big doo-doo.

We original NES1 gamers, finally have a guilt free machine we can play with our kids for "quality" time
Old 02-01-07, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Tigger
Obviously the Sony rep has to say something to discourage purchasing a Wii. I'm a hardcore gamer and work in the industry and with my Wii and 360, I can't foresee any reason to purchase a PS3. The number of exclusive titles in relation to the cost of the system is nowhere near the motivation to go grab one. Straight up graphics/gameplay alone in a PS3 vs. 360 comparrison leaves me more than pleased with my 360.

5-600 bucks isn't worth it for a few games in the next 12 months.
It seems like everyone "in the industry" who comments on this says the same thing.

Sony's perspective is that PS3 is a great deal, because it's got Blu Ray and it's cheaper than many competing standalone blu-ray players.

The problem is, the tech in the box is, at best, competitive with the Xbox 360, and Sony delayed its machine almost a year and priced it much higher to support this proprietary medium and to include this extremely expensive optical drive. The problem is, most gamers aren't necessarily in the market for a blu ray player, and sony's price combined with a lack of compelling software really deters even the enthusiast gaming market.

I don't think Sony can afford to move aggressively on price cutting to get this thing into homes, and more and more "exclusive" games will be coming to the 360 because of Sony's failure to secure a large enough market, it's going to get much harder for Sony to get software to drive its hardware, especially since MS and Nintendo both have stronger stables of first-party franchises to bolster their machines.
Old 02-01-07, 12:58 PM
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The most expensive component in the PS3 is the PS2 chip so if they can get that to work in software emulation they will be able to cut the price down at least by $100.
Old 02-01-07, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Fandango
The most expensive component in the PS3 is the PS2 chip so if they can get that to work in software emulation they will be able to cut the price down at least by $100.
But then they would have to eat that cost on the back-end by developing the emulation and supporting it. And if it wasn't perfect, like the 360's, they'd constantly have to update it and that would cost them even more. If you're going to be forced to include BC, then the best way you could do it is with native hardware like this as long as you can pass the cost to the consumer. It is a big selling point for consoles and will be par for the course from here on out as long as technically possible.
Old 02-01-07, 01:17 PM
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seems like the Wii has backwards compatibility on lock-down
Old 02-01-07, 01:21 PM
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Mr. Karraker said Sony was selling out the 100,000 PlayStation 3 units it was shipping into the United States each week
Maybe it's splitting hairs, but I find this to be irresponsible journalism that allows misinformative propaganda to be put forward as news. Sony's trying to say that their system is selling out just like the Wii, but the fact of the matter is that their "selling out" claim is based on Sony is selling all of their units to distributors, not that distributors are selling all the units to customers, which is what is going on with the Wii.


Besides, Mr. Karraker added, Sony thinks the Wii is attracting newcomers, while the PlayStation will be the console of choice for hard-core and committed gamers.
Really? Why is it that I and my friends, all of whom are hardcore gamers for at least 2 decades (3 in my case, my first system was the Atari 2600), are enjoying the Nintendo Wii and don't give a damn about the PS3?


said the Nintendo console was an enjoyable alternative but not a replacement for the more advanced machines.
That may be the case, and if it were just Sony and Nintendo maybe the PS3 would have a better chance. Nintendo does cater more towards the party / kids / girlie crowd. PS3 caters more towards males in their teens to late 20's. Unfortunately for Sony, the XBox 360 is just as good as the PS3 is. It caters to the same audience, and has a large library of games. When someone can have the innovativeness of the Wii and the power & library of the 360 for the same price as a PS3, the choice is rather obvious.

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