Last week, Develop magazine asked a panel of game developers why they believe there is a lack of third-party support for the Wii despite its massive user-base. The responses were not positive. Three years into the console’s life and developers are still afraid to touch it.
After the first year or so, it should have been clear to anyone that developers who had not expressed interest in the Wii were never going to be won over. Despite that, Nintendo continues to catch heat, essentially for not copying from Sony and Microsoft’s playbook. The same lamentations are repeated over and over again; the arguments have gotten old.
With the frequency of “Wii is a failure” pieces being published, you would assume that there aren’t any Wii fans among enthusiast gamers, much less those who would rate it above the 360 and PS3. That’s not true, though. There are such gamers.
I am such a gamer.
It shouldn’t be so hard to accept, yet how many gamers would question your tastes and values if you say you are a Wii fan? It raises far more skepticism than would claiming 360 or PS3 preference. There is far too much ignorance, both willful and unintended, in regards to what software is available on the Wii and what values Wii gamers appreciate the most. I shouldn’t have to qualify myself, but I’ll do so anyway.
Whether it’s because my parents carefully monitored my exposure to explicit content growing up, because I never outgrew Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, or whatever, I have an aversion to explicit violence or sexualization in games. The marquee titles on the 360 and PS3 usually carry mature ratings, and are thus an immediate turn-off. Oh, I’ve played and enjoyed such games like God of War and No More Heroes, but who doesn’t make exceptions from time to time?
I also am not pleased by the HD consoles’ focus on the epic blockbuster. Many in the game media and enthusiast circles believe that the only way for games to gain legitimacy is to mimic the Hollywood model. As such, a game like Uncharted 2 is championed for its refinement of cinematic storytelling within the medium. I don’t care much for the legitimacy argument, or rather, I don’t think that particular approach is the correct path towards mainstream acceptance.
With the Wii, I can enjoy a variety of low-key software designed to do only one or two things, but to do them well. They don’t insist upon themselves, they don’t try to change the face of gaming, they just are. I am happy that small-scale companies have a conduit to the retail channel for experimental products at low risk.
I like the quirky and the cute. I love the Kororinpas and The Munchables of the world. I am giddy about the Klonoas and the Muramasas and the 2D resurgence. And yes, I also enjoy the first-party games.
Not that it should matter, but no, I do not own an HD console. I do have an interest in purchasing a PS3 at some point. I have my software wishlist ready to go. However, I am satisfied with what the Wii offers me, and am in no rush to buy anything else. I know what I’m missing out on, but it simply isn’t an issue for me.
I explained all that to help you understand my frustrations with the gamer community. The enthusiasts that read gaming news and blogs are but a minority of the larger gaming population. People like me are a minority of that minority. As a result, the sites and outlets that cater to your interests do little to address mine.
Wii coverage is lacking overall. It’s hard not to think that most sites only make token efforts to acknowledge the Wii’s existence. Even when there is a positive Wii story, it’s not rare to catch an off-hand remark that expresses incredulity at such good news. No matter the extent of the coverage, it’s overshadowed by the far more ostentatious announcements surrounding the HD consoles.
Basically, if you want solid, in-depth Wii news and editorials, then you’ll have to visit Nintendo-centric sites like GoNintendo. I appreciate RawmeatCowboy and the rest of the GoNintendo crew for their passion in delivering all the news they can, posting updates literally every minute, no matter how seemingly insignificant. However, it shouldn’t be necessary to run to these sites just to escape a lot of the negativity that clouds the all-purpose gaming outlets.
Even then, the attitudes sometimes carry over. Consider the latest IGN Nintendo Voice Chat podcast. In this episode, the editors whine about how the Wii absolutely needs achievements, why “epic” games can never be made on the Wii, and how the Wii could cause another crash, all while directly insulting the listeners and Nintendo fans in general. Why would the Nintendo branch of IGN go to such lengths to show disrespect for its visitors? It’s disgustingly unprofessional.
Then there are the commenters who sour Wii discussions with the same tired clichés. Read the responses to any given Wii piece, and you are bound to find the “My Wii is collecting dust!” comment, the “I sold my Wii and couldn’t be happier!” comment, or the “I was a Nintendo fan from the NES days but no longer!” comment. I respect people’s opinions and wouldn’t fault them for their disfavor with the Wii, but when the only arguments they present are the same lines that have been repeated again and again over the past three years, I can’t imagine how they are doing anything other than trolling.
There is the practice of port begging whereby fans of one console see a game in production for another console and demand that it come over, such as Resident Evil 5 (Wii version with pointer controls), Dragon Quest IX (should be on a home console), and Left 4 Dead (don’t forget about the PS3, Valve). However, I am most curious by requests for Wii games to become HD projects instead. Considering one of the biggest faults against the Wii is its supposed lack of software for “hardcore” gamers, the detractors should be thrilled that content that excites them is coming their way.
When Epic Mickey was announced as a Wii exclusive, the requests for an HD port were numerous. Contradictions abounded as a lot of people thought it unfathomable that a Mickey Mouse game should be on a platform that, according to popular opinion, only caters to young children and the elderly. Regardless of the reasons given, years of Wii distrust has led many to assume that the final product will be substandard. What should have been a discussion of an ambitious new game devolved into more infighting over the Wii’s merits.
While many gamers are polarized in their Wii opinions, a sizeable percentage don’t care one way or another. This wave of disinterest is perhaps the most disappointing result of this whole ordeal. I think of all the underrated gems in the Wii library that performed poorly at retail, and how press writers and bloggers have expressed displeasure for their lack of sales. When these same writers and bloggers don’t do much to cultivate a healthy environment for Wii discussion, is there any mystery why the disinterested pay so little mind?
What can explain these attitudes? It can’t be fanboyism. Fanboyism was Sega and Nintendo kids talking smack in the playground back in 1991. I don’t disagree that the Wii has a lot of legitimate problems that contribute to the impression it leaves on the gamer community, but these sentiments are also shared by the most vocal members of the game media and big development houses. According to their words and actions, the Wii shouldn’t exist. Worse than that, Wii consumers are misguided and unconcerned with quality.
This can’t be a healthy environment. What are Wii fans to do? I wish it was as easy as tuning out the noise, but, after the constant flow of negativity, you start to lose the will to speak up at all. I’m certain that a lot of folks prefer not to mention their Wii-playing habits, not out of shame, but out of fear that doing so will spark another round of acerbic grumblings.
I personally feel unwelcomed in many communities, whether that is their intention or not. There’s a lot of direspect for not just the Wii, but also the people who would wish to discuss it in a positive light. Is there any way to correct this? Is there any way to bridge the gap?
At this point, I don’t think so. The time for change was a year or two back. I wonder how many of the people I’ve mentioned realize that they have contributed to this exclusionary environment. There’s a lesson to be learned, and I hope enough people discover it and take it to heart for the next console generation.
We are gamers. You are my peers. Why then do I feel so distant?