The Opportunities Nintendo Keeps Missing

By Adam Ma on September 22, 2010, 7:11PM EDT

The idea that Nintendo could find new ways to profit off the Wii is almost silly to imagine considering how much they've made from the system so far. While their competitors Sony and Microsoft have been struggling against one another, the Wii found a perfect little niche in the middle of the console war, one that's gone on mostly uncontested. But there are still a few things Nintendo hasn't really tried in order to make a few extra dollars from their customers, things that most people would happily buy into without thinking twice. So what are these golden opportunities, and why the hell does Nintendo keep missing them?

The first thing that comes to mind is limited or collectors editions, something the cheaper-than-the-competition Wii has really dropped the ball on. Any large game that's guaranteed to get decent sales comes out with a collectors edition these days, and even smaller unknown games feature some special editions just for those loyal customers. Take into consideration that most major Wii consumers are the parents of children, and knowing full well how often kids flock to get nick-nacks, collectors edition games on the Wii only makes sense. Yet they are a mysterious rarity, with no explanation. When a company makes the best selling platformer of all time, you would think they would drive sales home a bit more with a special edition or two for the game.

Now obviously not all special editions are immediately profitable, some are just made for publicity or fun like the Modern Warfare 2 Prestige Edition. But what's the big deal behind offering a few specialized copies of those mega-hit games.

The idea drives right into the next bit of merchandise that Nintendo continues to avoid: limited edition controllers. If there's one thing gamers like it's owning something that not everyone else in the world could have. Custom titles, achievements, weapons, have become a massive sales tool both in-game and on the stores. Many games release limited edition headsets and controllers that get bought up, sometimes for fun, sometimes because they're actually made better. Not Nintendo though, they seem perfectly content letting third party manufacturers create products that they could be trying to improve. Instead Nintendo offers lame alternative stickers, gel wraps, and a white/black option when buying an additional controller.

Online multiplayer is a feature that the Wii has, but not for many games and it's generally ignored for a wide variety of reasons. Almost xenophobic in nature, the 'friend code' feature that Nintendo has implemented in their DS/Wii online functionality is one of the most strange things I've ever seen a console have. Sure it keeps all the weirdoes away, but it also makes playing with friends a chore. Not only that, but it also means making friends is an impossibility online. Drop the silly feature, or make it optional, and watch as a lot of people may consider the Wii as their go-to place for any of those great classic multiplayer games. PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are having some pretty large success in the 'arcade' department, why isn't the system that's less expensive, easier for children to access, and more intuitively designed for arcade play jumping in on this action?

The last thing is a gripe that will never be addressed; but for the sake of missed opportunities must be mentioned. Motion controls really need to stop. The competition is in on the game now, and it's no longer an adorable feature to include in every single title. At this point, it's obviously the easiest way to alienate a lot of developers for no particular reason. Years of Wii's third-party sales records show this clearly, and the time has come to really start offering games that will cater to people who enjoy jumping and sitting.

Naturally not everything on this list can be implemented in a day, nor do I expect motion controls to ever remove themselves from my Wii games. I consider it to be the Wii's own version of cancer, a terminal illness with limited treatment that will eventually do away with the system altogether.

However, the absence of everything else on this list just seems so strange to me, particularly looking back at a history of Nintendo's products and merchandise. Perhaps they've already learned this lesson, and are just busy implementing all of these tips and tricks into their next super-console. All I know is that despite how rarely I ever buy Wii games, I would have tossed up ten extra dollars for a little Mario figure with SMG2 in a heartbeat. I don't think I'm alone and I do think those numbers would add up pretty quick.

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