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Wii is Offically King of the Mountian

September 17, 2007

The Wii has now sold 9 million units, compared to the Xbox 360’s 8.9 and the PS3’s 3.7. The Wii was released a year after the Xbox 360, and a bit less than a month after the PS3.

As a gamer who still remembers with sadness the bitter closing days of the Battle of 16 Bits when a beleaguered SEGA was forced into a tactical withdrawal that later became a full blown rout, I meet the news of the Wii’s ascendancy with unexpected feelings of approval. After SEGA’s ultimate defeat when it’s Sega Saturn was caught flat-footed between Nintendo’s N64 and and Sony’s unexpected PlayStation offensive and subsequently ground down to paste, I still remained loyal to Sonic. With my old honorable enemy Nintendo now duking it out with the dastardly and underhanded newcomer Sony, there wasn’t really anything left to hold my interest in the console scene, so I drifted away and eventually found a calling as a hardcore PC loyalist.

Aside from viewing them as my traditional antagonists, I never harbored a real grudge against Nintendo, and I never quite forgave Sony for attacking SEGA from behind. Even when I played my friend’s PS2, there was always an almost subliminal sense that part of me wasn’t participating in the game. I may be playing the enemy’s game, but it wasn’t because I approved of them. I justified my occasional playing of the PS2 as simply adapting to the times. It wasn’t like I was giving Sony money or anything. Like all real gamers, I was a PC man. Everything else was just dabbling.

It was the Wii that brought me back out of that haze of self-justifying bullshit. Sony and the new-newcomer Microsoft had slugged it out in the last generation, with Sony retaining the top spot, but losing a lot of precious ground to Master Chief’s headlong charge onto the Internet, and both sides were gearing up for another round. Each of them seemed to decide that innovation was a secondary concern, and that this fight would be decided by sheer brute force. The PS3 and the Xbox 360 were little more than their respective antecedents’ clones, but with bigger numbers and wireless controllers. While these two titans limbered up for a final climactic showdown, Nintendo quietly burned their copy of the rules of engagement and began developing their own strategy for victory. It was brilliant in it’s simplicity: sell games to the millions of people who don’t play video games; achieve this through innovation. And thus the Wii-mote was born.

That one defiant bellow of innovation in the face of an industry beset by stagnation is what got me to look at consoles seriously again. Well, that and the prohibitive cost of a top of the line gaming computer. I seriously considered getting a Wii, and although I ended up settling on an Xbo 360, I feel that I have come full circle. Nintendo used to be the enemy, and while I still don’t consider myself “one of them,” I now see Nintendo as being in some small way my ally and champion, just as they are the champion of every gamer who longs for change, originality, and ultimately innovation in the pursuit of fun.

So congratulations Nintendo, you’ve earned it. May you sell 9 million more.

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