Iterate or Innovate?

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While Microsoft and Sony both iterate on proven designs for traditional video game systems, Nintendo (which has been loosing ground in recent years) decided to innovate. Some say it’s a gamble, but Nintendo needed to do something – or it was going to be left behind by hard core gamers.

What am I talking about? The Wii, and what’s so innovative about the Wii? A number of things.

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  • Interaction Design:
    By developing a more natural way to interact with games, Nintendo has moved us from a joystick to a more virtual space – from playing to experiencing
  • Network Lifestyle:
    Finally, with WiiConnect24 the Wii has a constant connection to the outside world – where the network can automatically download new pieces to games, or download any Nintendo game from decades past on demand.
  • Product Design:
    By realizing most people want ascetically pleasing unobtrusive devices in their homes (Apple vs. Dell), Nintendo bucks the trend to have huge, loud, machines sitting next to the TV and provides a stark white device that’s “Approximately the size of three stacked DVD cases”.
  • Emotional Connection:
    The more you interact with something, the greater you have a emotional connection with it. The iPod is something you can carry around, move the wheel, and it produces music that makes you “feel” – what about a controller you bend and move with, swing and jump with? This experience creates a connection.
  • Creating a New Category:
    Nintendo has decided to go after non-gamers. By creating a new category, (games for non-gamers) they’ve once again become the leader, and are not directly competing with Sony or Microsoft
  • Digital Library:
    The promise of 20 years worth of television shows on demand, a jukebox with every recording in human history? Not yet, but with Wii you get a huge selection of past games, that can bring back the nostalgia of your youth with a press of a button. Do you remember the first time you played Mario?

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As you can tell I’m excited about the Wii, and it’s only the first day. They’ve released a video that does a good job at showing the capabilities of the Wii, not just the graphics, but the interactions with the people playing the games. I can’t wait to read more and try a hands-on experience soon.

5 thoughts on “Iterate or Innovate?

  1. I’ll admit it, im not exactly sure how far Nintendo thinks this is gonna take them. Sure it’s innovative, but gamers and future gamers alike are only concerned on how many million polygons it can render in a second. Dont get me wrong, i think this is a great console. But Innovation is what’ll drive Nintendo into the ground.

  2. Actually most of the web buzz is talking about how it’s going to be a huge hit. I think the days of gamers only concerned with slightly better graphics every five years is coming to an end.

  3. A gaming console that can connect to the INTERNET?! HOW INNOVATIVE!!!

  4. Actually, I think Nintendo is more in danger of only getting the hardcore gamers, not losing them. Sony and MS are getting (or already have, in Sony’s case) huge shares of the non-hardcore market, which is of course much larger than the hardcore market.

    The non hardcore market are the people who continue to buy every iteration of Madden and every carbon-copy FPS that comes out, making all these games top sellers (though there’s little to no innovation in any of them).

    Many people believe that Nintendo is trying to position itself as “the second console” for existing gamers (i.e. you will buy a Wii alongside either a 360 or a PS3), as well as sell the Wii to people who have never played video games before, as evidenced by their videos. (Wow that sentence structure sucked). Of course that strategy really depends on the pricepoint – will the Wii come in under $250, or even under $200? Hopefully we’ll find out soon.

  5. Matt - It’s not about it connecting to the internet, but what it’s doing while it’s connected. Adding pieces to a game, new levels while you sleep is something new and innovative. To me the “Network Lifestyle” is the promise of having your refrigerator order milk when you run out – that’s what I’d compare this Nintendo service to.

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