Seattle's News Elixir

Nintendo wasted its 2009 by riding the Wii hype train to the bank. Their strategy thus far has been to promote legacy games (Wii Fit, Mario Kart, Super Mario) to new customers. Sales are high, so this new-audience tactic has seemed effective. But these players aren't getting hooked; aren't coming back every few months for new games.

With the exception of Guitar Hero addicts, Nintendo's buyers are tucking their Wiis under the mattress next to the treadmill. The casual base won't flock back to the Wii en masse without a stunner, and there's Nintendo's sticking point. 2008's Wii Music was an epic dud, and last year's Wii Sports sequel hasn't shot off with the word-of-mouth appeal of the original. Grandma already pretended to bowl once before. She's good.

Any hope for Redmond's Big N this year? Maybe. The company's only expected casual release for 2010 will come with a heart-rate monitor that sticks to your index finger. Early reports have pegged it as Wii Relax, and while details are mum, it sounds atrocious enough—a stress-management game for people to veg on the couch with—to be a word-of-mouth sleeper hit, complete with daytime talk show buzz, for that treadmill demographic.

But betting on the fad crowd to come back, even by kissing its ass with the coddling of "oh, you're soooo stressed," reeks of a fool's errand. I predict doom for Nintendo in 2010, especially as Microsoft turns up the heat with the wild possibilities of Project Natal.

Frankly, Nintendo would be better off tapping into America's stupidity zeitgeist a la these clowns:


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