It's been about five months since our last report from the front lines of the current generation game console war. Since that time the Christmas/holiday time period has boosted both hardware and software sales of all three consoles in the US. However, the overall "winner" of the war is still very much in doubt. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are all still in the running in the US but events in 2008 could finally settle who will be the ultimate victor. Let's take a look at the status of the three consoles and what we would do in order for them to win this already brutal war.
While Nintendo is still dealing with what appears to be a never ending problem with supply issues, the truth is even a the lack of hardware on store shelves has done little to deter the success of the Wii console here in the U.S. The pure numbers, has provided by the NPD Group, show the Wii still on top of the PS3 and the Xbox 360 in terms of sales. However, the 2-1 lead that the Wii had over the Xbox 360 in previous months has diminished somewhat. In December, the Wii sold 1.35 million units while the Xbox 360 sold 1.26 million units, a fairly close race all around. The Wii continues to appeal primarily to the causal games market as Super Mario Galaxy, WiiPlay, and the Wii version of Guitar Hero III all sold well over the holidays and into January 2008.
Hardcore gamers, however, pretty much ignored the Wii but that was because Nintendo ignored hardcore gamers. Metroid Prime 3, perhaps the biggest hardcore game released for the console so far, disappeared from the top 10 list pretty quickly as Halo 3, Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect and especially Call of Duty 4 came calling in the fall. One huge holiday opportunity was missed by Nintendo as well as Super Smash Bros. Brawl, originally set for release in December, got pushed back to February and then finally to March 9.
In January the Wii took a massive nose-dive in terms of sales, generating only 274,000 unit sales, a decrease of 80 percent from December. However, the sales of Super Smash Bros. Brawl in March should be a huge boost for the Wii, if Nintendo can keep up with the demand. Indeed, that's been the Wii's biggest flaw so far; over a year after its launch people in the US still cannot just go into a store and pick up one off the store shelves. Lines still form outside retail stores when they get any shipments of the consoles. We are baffled as to why Nintendo still hasn't solved this problem yet.
Another problem is the lack of info about what Nintendo's fall 2008 games are going to be. Last year we figured we would get Metroid Prime 3, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the fall of 2007 (two out of three ain't bad). This year there's still a mystery as to what first party games will be released for the Wii in the busy fall/holiday schedule of 2008. With Smash Bros. due out in March and Wii Fit and Mario Kart for the Wii due out sometime in the second quarter in the US, there's some question as to what killer app Nintendo will release for the Wii in the second half of 2008.
So can the Wii continue its hot streak? Yep, if Nintendo follows our advice: