Suggesting that one of the most beloved franchises of all time could ruin anything outside of itself is a tough call to make. I mean, did Sonic ruin the Dreamcast? Obviously not. Really, how could the Wii be ruined? It’s still the best-selling game console, and almost every title Nintendo puts out is a best seller. It owns a majority of the “gaming” market by a pretty significant margin. So what’s the issue? 3rd party core publishers, the ones that make a good portion of the games we care about, are afraid to produce things for the Wii.
Is that the fault of the Nintendo not having HD? Is it just that the system is less powerful than the 360 or PS3? While I am sure that may be part, I doubt that is the real reasoning. It’s always about the dollar sign. Wii has the biggest installed base, so that should mean Wii = $ for core games. Except… that isn’t happening. However, some publishers are trying, with pretty minimal success. Why do they try though? What makes them think after all this time the games will sell? Zelda. It may be the only reason people think the Wii can sell core games.
It’s no secret that Twilight Princess was delayed for the Wii to guarantee a solid console launch. Nintendo themselves had very little it seemed to offer at the launch of the Wii, so they needed Zelda to give it a kick start. It worked masterfully as business decision, and may have been a major starting point as for why the Wii started so hot. Sure, Wii Sports was a phenomenon, but Zelda lead the way for a great launch plan. Within two years we had Super Paper Mario, Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. A great lineup from Nintendo that guaranteed continued success – all stemmed from Zelda‘s kick start. However, that wasn’t really what hurt Nintendo and the Wii today. Sure, one could argue a bigger spacing out of the titles, or a new unique core title from Nintendo, but that has little to do with 3rd party companies. So why are we like this today?
First, let’s admit something that people like to ignore: 3rd parties are trying, and they are trying right now. Madworld, The Conduit, Dead Space, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and even finally giving us Modern Warfare… it’s safe to say that they are definitely testing the waters. Success so far has been… so-so. The Conduit and Madworld rank around the best of the more hardcore titles so far, and they haven’t even broken a half million in sales. Not a good start if we wanted more solid titles on the Wii.
Of course, the Wii has been labeled as the casual console, so the question needs to be asked: With the little success so far, why do they continue to try and make hardcore games for the console? The answer is simple: Zelda Wii.
I can name at least 30 people off the top of my head that haven’t sold their Wii for the simple fact that Zelda Wii is coming at some point. I am sure many of us could do the same with the people we know. It’s no secret: Zelda Wii is keeping the console in the houses of “hardcore” gamers. So, that being the case, one would figure if you produce quality games people will pick them up in the mean time. But so far, that hasn’t worked.
Of course, this past year or so hasn’t had any “major” big name titles unique to the Wii. Next year is a different story. A new Final Fantasy game, as well as Monster Hunter Tri, top of the list of AAA franchises coming to the Wii with exclusive titles. How will they fare? Who knows. If they can’t sell, then it may spell the end for hardcore titles on the Wii. Zelda, stop teasing us like this.
The thing is, the Zelda franchise is extremely polarizing. Spirit Tracks just came out and I am willing to bet it tops 4 million in sales, maybe even more. Zelda Wii next year or the year after will most likely top that, going upwards of 6 to 7 million in sales. It’s one of the “untouchable” franchises. It is also the franchise that is causing the Wii to falter. It’s causing a false sense that yes, the Wii IS for the core gamer.
I am a Nintendo fan boy. I enjoy the core games that have come out so far, such as Dead Space Extraction. However, even I have to admit that you just don’t get the same quality of games on the Wii, and the only reason they try is because of Zelda. Twilight Princess is a big reason why the Wii got jump started, and Zelda Wii is a big reason why we’re still holding on. However, it’s also the reason the Wii is “failing” in its late stages, as it created this false hope that hardcore gaming could be a reality, yet again, on a Nintendo console.