Is there something to this Blue Ocean thing?
The popular common concept amongst the so-called “hardcore” gamers is that people play Wii Fit or whatever and then stop playing games altogether. This does happen on occasion. There are people who will be completely content playing Wii Sports: Bowling for the rest of their lives, or at least until they are no longer able to bowl.
I think we — or rather, they — are forgetting some important things. The whole DS/Wii strategy isn’t just about appealing to blue-hairs and soccer moms and whatnot. It’s also about getting people who used to play games that don’t now to pick up the habit again. And it does work, on occasion.
I personally was a lapsed gamer for many a month before I got a DS. Yeah, you’ve all heard my personal testimonial dozens of times. But it was interesting. I got to the point where all I would play was Tiger Woods 2005 (this was before the… unpleasantness, you understand) and Katamari Damacy. An interesting spread, but I had literally lost interest in nearly all games at that point.
Handheld gaming was starting to come into its own, though. You see, I hadn’t owned a portable system since the original green-screen Game Boy, which had a few good games on it but was bulky and hard to see. The Game Boy Pocket and Color fixed a lot of that, but I never had one of those, nor a Game Boy Advance. In fact, part of the DS’s appeal was that it had the ability to play those games as well as its own, and I’m still playing them on there. Since I never got a DSi and all.
The first two DS games I got — and this was in early 2005 — were Mario 64 and Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt. Both were well suited to show off the capabilities of touch-enabled gaming without really taking them to their fullest extent. I loved “Touch-Shoot” mode in Metroid, which ended up not making it to the finished game, and the mini-games in Mario 64 really ended up being great time-wasters for me, too.
I don’t need to tell any of you that later games more than proved the concept was viable. They did, though. What was amazing about the DS is how the different kind of input made me interested in playing more games. It wasn’t just the new ways of experiencing franchises like Mario and Kirby, but also the brand new games like Elite Beat Agents anc The World Ends With You.
Appealing to lapsed gamers is different than appealing to non-gamers because lapsed gamers already know what they’re missing and aren’t intimidated by the prospect of video games. If Nintendo can continue to appeal to people who played games back in the ’80s or ’90s and then stopped, it can definitely keep its hold on a segment of the market.
Ironically, many of the games that are top sellers on Wii are games that can be played and replayed day in and day out, like Wii Fit. Ironically, these games continue to sell well months and years after release, while stuff like Metroid: Other M will see its biggest burst of sales in September and October. As someone who’s lost interest in video games and had that interest rekindled, I find a place for both types of games in my life. And they’re a lot easier to introduce other people to, which is again part of that insidious plan.