Disruptive Technology - PS3, the Wii, and Coasters

Monday, December 4, 2006 9:13 AM
I miss the old days when a new system could be had if you came up with the money for it. There was no such things as pre-orders and waiting lists... if you had $200, you walked into a store and bought a brand-new Super Nintendo the week it came out. Now landing a new system as soon as it comes out is as difficult as winning the lottery, and I'm not sure why.

I mean, why are there shortages of Wii's and PS3's? Why were there shortages of 360's? The hardware giants claim that there is no money to be made from the consoles- it's the software that makes them money. That being the case, why not launch with enough systems so everyone that wants one can get one? It's not like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo have never launched systems before, so why does it seem like they've never done it before and are walking blindly through the whole process? Surely they should have learned from their past mistakes, right?

Monday, December 4, 2006 9:38 AM
Jeff's avatar The Wii shortage isn't really that much of a shortage I don't think. The analysts are saying that if you want one this year, you'll probably get one if you keep watching out for them. The PS3 is a different matter, though no one really knows what if the issue is supply chain related or has to do with the firmware upgrade it needs right out of the box.

The 360 manufacturing last year just didn't ramp up fast enough. They screwed up. This year they're in great supply, and the kids at Best Buy and Gamestop say they're selling very, very well. I'd say Nintendo will get a firm second place for the holiday season behind Microsoft. Sony is the biggest loser.

The problem with availability I think has to do with the size of the industry. The manufacturing just hasn't scaled with the demand. Sure, they've all shipped consoles before, but demand is far higher every cycle, and the technology is more complex. By not trying to out-muscle anyone, Nintendo built a pretty simple little box. If you search for pictures of the motherboard and general disassembly of the Wii, it's very simple compared to a 360. Simple design means easier manufacturing. Apple had understood this for years.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Monday, December 4, 2006 10:00 AM
Good point- video games are more popular now than they were years ago. I'm glad to hear that the 360 is selling well- I think I'm behind that system more than the others (at least right now) and I'm happy about Sony no longer guaranteed to lead the U.S. video game industry.

But my point is, whatever the supply issues may be, the companies should have accounted for everything. It's not like Sony was caught by surprise concerning the demand for the PS3- they knew it would be a hit and marketed it to be a hit. I'm sure Nintendo will do a good job of getting consoles into the hands of those that want one by Christmas but that's not really a sure thing to bank on, and it's unfortunate that people have to go so nuts to get their hands on something like that. Of course, people went nuts for Tickle Me Elmo at one point so I guess it's not all that odd!

Monday, December 4, 2006 10:03 AM
Jeff is spot-on. Back in the Genesis and Super Nintendo days (and before that), these were much simpler machines, and it wasn't that challenging to ramp up production. Granted, they were pushing what was POSSIBLE back then for the pricepoint, but they just weren't that complicated.

Now jump ahead to the current systems. The 360 and the PS3 are very complicated beasts indeed. Production can't start until the designs are finalized, which leads to a very short lead time to make the holiday season. Microsoft last year, and Sony this year, made the judgement call that it was better to launch with a limited supply than to lose out entirely on a Christmas shopping season. In Microsoft's case, that looks like a wise decision, because it gave them a head start. In Sony's case, that will probably ALSO be a wise decision, because at least they're not giving the competition a TWO year lead.

Then in the other corner there's Nintendo. While the Wii is still a respectable machine, it's a much simpler beast. Nintendo's been working on the motion sensing tech for years, and the console itself is basically a souped-up GameCube. This made it MUCH easier to ramp up production, and the fact that they're selling as fast as they're cranking them out demonstrates that Nintendo made a good call with keeping the design simpler. Will that SUSTAIN them in the long run? Perhaps it will -- by the time the 360 and PS3 start dropping in price, so will the Wii. While some of the hardcore gamers may dismiss the system on that basis, the public could eat it up -- "Fun at reasonable cost".

"You seem healthy. So much for voodoo."

Monday, December 4, 2006 11:15 AM
eightdotthree's avatar From what I gather Sony is not getting good yields with their Blu Ray drives.
Monday, December 4, 2006 3:02 PM
The difference is that back in the day of the Super Nintendo, video games were something that "nerds" and "geeks" were into, so the demand (in terms of # of units) was no where near as high. Do you think the SNES sold 1 million units in under a month? I don't have figures, but I'd be surprised if it even came close.

Now since the original PlayStation gained popularity with Final Fantasy 7 and some other games, it's cool to be a gamer. It's no longer just a land of solace to the smart kids who are constantly ridiculed by the masses daily at school. As a result, the demand is MUCH higher, and there's only so much you can ramp up production before it isn't worth it (the law of diminishing returns). What do you do with the production lines that can churn out 3 million consoles in a month after a year? I doubt the demand will still be that high after a year and 36 million consoles sold.

"Life's What You Make It, So Let's Make It Rock!"
Monday, December 4, 2006 4:14 PM
There is a another great piece in the Fool today about the Wii, and “disruptive technology”. The author brings up a good point we’ve been discussing about how Nintendo is a capturing a new market of non-gamers with an innovative system, where as Sony and Microsoft are going after the same old market. *** Edited 12/4/2006 9:15:15 PM UTC by Joe E.*** *** Edited 12/4/2006 9:16:26 PM UTC by Joe E.***
Monday, December 4, 2006 4:37 PM
Jeff's avatar And hey, that's the logical way to go. Why compete in a crowded market when you can create a new one or enter one that's less crowded?

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Monday, December 4, 2006 7:24 PM
Honestly though, I dont think the "non-gamer" market is sustainable. Oh, I believe the 'anecedotal evidence' that some non-gamers are having a good time with the Wii, but I dont think that those people are going to line up and buy a whole lot of games. Sure, Wii Sports, and the upcoming Wii Play and other mini-game type games have the potential to provide instant fun, but what is going to cause a "non-gamer" to want to buy other games? I think that they will see Play, Rayman Raving Rabbids, Mario Party and the like as "basically the same game", and not see the need to get others. Moreover, I cannot see that type of "non-gamer" ever getting into the 'epic' games in the mold of Final Fantasy and Zelda.

In the amusment world, a ride like Mr. Six might get a nod from non-coaster riders for "schitts and giggles", but that person is likey to have a been there done that look at other spinning coasters. And they sure as hell wont be imediately graduating to S:ROS!

Sure, Nintendo is ahead of Sony this year. I admit, I have no current interest in the PS3, but have been awaiting the Wii since back when it was known as the Revolution. But I fear, that after this intial 'gimmicky fervor' passes, time will show that Nintendo really *did not* bring a ton of new gamers to the market, and the consumers will remain decidedly 15-35 yr old males. Moreover, as developers get more creative with PS3 (and X360) programming, I can see their games far surpassing anything the Wii can do. The wild flailing of the Wii can only go so far before the games have to do more than just a gimmick.

But I wish Nintendo the best. Now if only I can find a damn Wii... ;)

lata, jeremy

PlaceHolder for Castor & Pollux

Tuesday, December 5, 2006 9:16 AM
I'm not sure I agree with you on that. I think that once non-gamers discover how much fun gaming can be with the Wii, they'll be hooked. I'm not predicting it will become an all-out fad but if Nintendo can get a new demographic or two into the fold as well as retain current Nintendo fans (which they will likely do by wisely launching their new system with a Zelda game- a series that Nintendo fans are nuts about), I think they'll be in a much better position than they were in with the N64 and the Gamecube.

As is always the case, the success of the Wii will depend a lot on the quantity and quality of software available for the system. One of the main problems with the N64 and Gamecube was that third parties very rarely came up with anything exclusive- most third party stuff was ports of games that were available on many other gaming systems. Nintendo is going to need the support of a few companies that understand how unique the system and its interface are and come up with games that won't appear on other systems, giving people a reason to keep playing their Wii's instead of tossing them in the closet when they're done with Zelda and the upcoming Mario game.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006 1:34 PM
I agree, Rob. Also, in terms of the spinning coaster example, it's more of a "gee, that one was fun, so this one will be fun too." I think they will wait to buy mario party, but once the gimmicky novelty of Wii Sports wears off, then they'll buy Mario Party. Or, perhaps they'll wait until next Thanksgiving, and then in an effort to look "cool" to the family buy it for the family to play.

Also a detail that hasn't been mentioned here besides the motion controller that is helping (at least for Wii Sports) is the concept of the Mii. Everyone can have their own character and personalize their scores and accomplishments.

"Life's What You Make It, So Let's Make It Rock!"
Wednesday, December 6, 2006 1:52 PM
bobthecoasterguy's avatar With regards to the third party support, I think Nintendo is doing a fantastic job of getting it for the Wii. There were launch games that are not just ports from Sega, and a bunch from Ubisoft. Also, Konami is releasing Elebits which could turn out to be a sleeper hit. There are also tons of games in production by lots of third parties, and what's more the more these companies develop games for the system, the better they'll understand how to use the motion sensing which will produce better games and they'll also learn to utilize the better horsepower of the Wii. And besides Zelda, Nintendo has Mario, Metroid, and Super Smash Bros. coming out in the upcoming year, those titles alone should keep a "hardcore gamer" happy.


Wednesday, December 6, 2006 1:58 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

2Hostyl said:
But I fear, that after this intial 'gimmicky fervor' passes, time will show that Nintendo really *did not* bring a ton of new gamers to the market, and the consumers will remain decidedly 15-35 yr old males. The wild flailing of the Wii can only go so far before the games have to do more than just a gimmick.

It's a fine line between gimmick and evolutional shift. I'm betting on the latter in this case.

This is only the initial release of games. At this point the strong money is on the idea of exploiting the whole Wiimote thing - it's what's sets the Wii apart. As time goes on and more games are released, you'll see more 'standard' games adapted.

It's pretty much why everyone is going ape over Zelda. You have a solid, popular franchise that doesn't make the Wiimote a 'gimmuick', but rather a natural extention and gives us our first peek of the control system of the future.

There's always a huge gap in quality/experience/pushing-the-tech in the initial releases with a system and what's being put out at the end of it's lifespan. I can't imagine the ways developers will incorporate the Wii controllers into things or how far they'll push the system 5 years from now.

At any rate it's a decidedly different approach. Face it, with a few notable exceptions most of these systems see rehashes of the same old games. Sony and Microsoft went with the old tried and true method of pumping up the graphics and essentially offing a prettier (but strikingly similar) experience. Nintendo is looking to change the way we play.

I guess the fine line between gimmick and evolution is decided by consumer dollars in the end, but for now Nintendo looks to be posied to change the way we play video games...check back in 4 or 5 years. :)

*** Edited 12/6/2006 6:59:10 PM UTC by Lord Gonchar***

Wednesday, December 6, 2006 3:49 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar Because we're on a coaster board:

In the coaster industry I see standups and flyer as gimmicks.

Inverts, launchers, and hypers as shifts in evolution.

Floorless is kind of the PS3 equivalent - a solid upgrade to a solid existing product.

4d - the jury is still out.

So is the wii the new standup or the new hyper?

*** Edited 12/6/2006 8:49:36 PM UTC by ApolloAndy***

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Thursday, December 7, 2006 4:20 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

It's pretty much why everyone is going ape over Zelda. You have a solid, popular franchise that doesn't make the Wiimote a 'gimmuick', but rather a natural extention and gives us our first peek of the control system of the future.

Look, "everyone" is going ape (dump) over Zelda because its ZELDA, has nothing to do with the control of the Wii. Zelda freaks (self included) have been pining for this game for years. If the big N had kept LoZ:TP as a Gamecube only game, it *still* would have sold! Take a look at the Gameinformer forums and look at the fervor that the game struck up as a Gamecube game. The Wii-mote control is just an icing. However, I dont think that many people that dont like Zelda games would want to play this new Zelda simply because you get to pretend that you're swinging a sword or plucking a bow.

Take a look at DDR, it too has an "alternate" control scheme. And initially, the game brought 'non-gamers' to it because of the novelty. But as the series has evolved, the crowd has shrunk to a hardcore following (similar to Street Fighter II). While I certainly hope for the best from Ninty, I really dont think that the 'non-gamers' are going to significantly expand the gaming base. I just dont see them buying a lot of games.

It will be interesting though, to see how Ninty, and more importantly the 3rd party ppl, integrate this new control scheme into games that gamers like to play. LoZ seems to be a good start (though I still contend that Zelda would have sold just as well as a GC game), but reviews of Red Steel arent very promising. A game like Okami seems *perfect* for the Wii, but how do games like Final Fantasy and the sports titles take advantange of the new controls? (I personally, even as a Zelda freak, want to see if Madden has gotten more 'accessible' with the Wii.) And I'm dying to know how a platformer like Super Mario Galaxies is going to use the Wii-mote. If done right, it could be good, but if done wrong, it could be the most frustrating piece of wack trash ever. I trust that Ninty will get it right, but I fear for the 3rd party games.

I guess, I'm just pessimistic. I just dont think that the "converted non-gamer" will amount to more than a drop in the bucket. After the initial novelty wears off, i dont see these people significantly altering the gaming demographic in terms of actually buying games.

So I guess I feel that the Wii is more standup than hyper. Something that the masses will check out once to see what it's about, but ultimately, only true fans will come back for more.

But I *hope* it's the opposite.;)
lata, jeremy

PlaceHolder for Castor & Pollux

Thursday, December 7, 2006 4:34 PM
rollergator's avatar As a non-gamer (still a geek, don't get TOO excited), I can see myself obtaining a Wii...

But as those of you *on the inside* have noted, it's not going to amount to alot of GAME revenue...prob. just have a couple games I enjoy, get bored, and go back to the TV and the PC...

Thursday, December 7, 2006 4:48 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar We're on similar but slightly different wavelengths here, Jeremy. Perhaps I went too astray with my post.

As far a successful games and converted non-gamers, well that's all up in the air. My point was meant to be that I don't think the Wiimote is a gimmick.

Don't think for a second that the folks over at Sony and MS aren't scrambling to get something similar in place for their systems.

Regardless of who 'wins' this round of the console wars, I suspect we'll be playing the next gen (next next gen?) games more in the way that we're playing Wii games now than how we're playing PS3 or Xbox games.

However, if I'm wrong (and I am occasionally ;) ), then there's two paths:

Does the Wii approach essentially create a fork in the road and go a different way existing alternatively in the future (for casual gamers, 2nd system for regular gamers) or does it just die off and the next gen Nintendo system goes back to dual analog sticks and processing power and trying to compete head-to-head with other systems.

So I guess I think Wii is the 4d - the jury is still out. Depending on how the chips fall it could change things forever or it could simply become another novelty footnote in the big picture.

*** Edited 12/7/2006 9:48:40 PM UTC by Lord Gonchar***

Thursday, December 7, 2006 5:04 PM
eightdotthree's avatar PS3 already has tilt sensing in its new controller.

I can't imagine playing Saints Row, Gears of War or Oblivion with a Wii remote. Zelda works fine, but it hasn't actually added anything to the gameplay if you ask me.

Thursday, December 7, 2006 6:21 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Yeah, but what the PS3 controller does is not even close to what the Wiimote does. There's some big differences between tilt sensitivity and motion sensing.

Thursday, December 7, 2006 6:28 PM
Really, what is comes down to is can developers make games where the Wiimote movemnts are natural and intuitive. Wii Sports is a great example as swinging the remote like a bat in a baseball game makes sense. But remember, this isnt Ninty's first venture into motion sensing. Does anyone remember the Ill fated Power Glove? Sounded like a great idea, even looked cool: till you tried to play Mario with it and realized you had to wave your hand while wiggling your little finger to make Mario do a running jump. It was a pain in the ass to play regular games, but it was AWESOME for Mike Tyson's punchout.

Alternate controls are indeed exciting, and the Wii is promising. But I wonder if some 3rd party ppl will not take full advantage of the motion sensing and revert to more 'traditional' control (see all the DS games that make limited use of the touch screen). I mean, I think it will take some creativity to successfully integrate the Wiimote control into games. The Guitar Hero controler is great for that game, but I doubt it'd be very fun to play Metal Gear with it. ;)

And if the Wii games dont use the motion sensing...well then what's the point? But like you said, the jury is still out.

PlaceHolder for Castor & Pollux


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