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Nintendo Wii Falls to Third Place

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SUPER MARIO-KET SATURATION
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Like many, I grew up as a Nintendo fan. Loved Mario, adored Metroid, cherished Zelda. And while I still follow those titles into their latest incarnations, there's little incentive for me to seek much in the way of other games on the Nintendo Wii. After all, the shovelware on that platform is overwhelming and there's been little advancement on the system to keep it on par with PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 -- besides a partnership with Netflix.

Other than its continued development with its portable DS devices, Nintendo has taken a standoff approach with the Wii. The motion control gimmick pushed it to great new heights, the company and shareholders were happy, and that was that. But as the years went on, and Microsoft and Sony worked hard to reach the summit of Nintendo's success -- largely with motion controllers of their own -- the Mario House remained complacent and never bothered to reach for the 1UP mushroom. The appeal of its innovative controls can't be sustained by a library filled with terrible games.

And now at the end of 2010, because of its overconfidence, the Nintendo Wii now stands in third place behind the Xbox 360 and PS3.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Wii sales have fallen 24% from the same ten-month period last year. Meanwhile, Sony's have risen 14% and Microsoft -- buoyed by a popular Kinect campaign -- is up 34%.

In fact, to further illustrate the Wii's precipitous fall, the Time's Ben Fritz spoke with the owner of an LA-area video game shop which hasn't sold a Wii in two whole months. "The Wii has really slowed down," owner Jeff Bryson told Fritz. "It's tough to sell."

Yes, supporters can chalk the decline up to market saturation. Like Apple's iPod, everyone who wanted one has one, and sales will inevitably dip. Add a longer lifespan to this generation's gaming systems and that decline becomes more certain.

But that still doesn't explain why sales for Microsoft and Sony -- which are targeting the same crowd -- have risen. Or why Electronic Arts, Activision, and scores of other third party developers have shifted focus to Wii's two major competitors, as well as Apple and Google.

"When you have an original idea, you want the best platform with the most cutting-edge technology to showcase it," Jason Alejandre, president of Tarzana-based Game Mechanic Studios, told Fritz. "That's one reason most developers prefer not to work on the Wii."

Nintendo's brand can't stand on its own without progressive hardware. We already saw that with the GameCube -- another underpowered system which languished in third. Although the company's been dipping into classic game titles with NBA Jam, Punch-Out!!, and Donkey Kong Country Returns, a system can't succeed just from nostalgia alone.

Eventually, you're gonna have to make more quality games on par with the Super Mario Galaxy series.

But judging from a wave of poor reviews, will gamers even notice at this point?
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