We all know it; The Nintendo Wii is the biggest selling 7th-Generation console. Fact. With sales well in excess of 50 million units, its closest competitor is the Xbox 360, but even that has a staggering 20 million+ more units to go. Granted, it isn’t as powerful and some may even argue that it belongs in the PS2 generation, but the fact is, it is classed as 7th-Gen and we need to get used to it. But what if, like He-Man, the Wii had the power? This question required us to break out the microwave. I was unable to trace Raen at first but finally found him trying to use the microwave to warm a pasty. After giving him a right royal telling-off for a) using sensitive time-travelling technology for warming of snacks and b) eating vile pastry filled with vegetables, potato and off-cuts of gerbils, we were off. Microwave set to 10 minutes de-frost (seeing as that is the function no one ever uses)? Check. Coat hanger twisted to the correct angle? Check, Tin foil flapping? Check.
The year was now 2004 and the Wii had just been announced at E3. Production was soon to follow. We perched outside Nintendo HQ and whilst Raen distracted most of the employees with his latest invention: Sushi-filled Pasties, I quickly ran into the ‘Hardware Ordering’ department (what? Every company has one) and erased their order for the Wii’s proposed graphics card and processor, and filled it with a list of technology that I had ‘borrowed’ from Sony. I quickly added 50 million units to the shopping cart and ordered. There was no turning back. Upon Nintendo taking delivery of said technology, the ‘Hardware Ordering’ Manager got the sack (sorry about that) and they had no choice but to adapt for the items were non-returnable. This change in tech lead to them having to enlarge the console, which in turn ramped up production costs. This also caused a years delay to the launch. So in 2007, the Wii was launched.
Now costing £350 instead of the proposed £200 (ish), the Wii didn’t see as bigger launch sales as hoped and the first three months looked bad. But the unique Wiimotes were appealing to developers and multi-platform games were soon being lined up. Imagine playing Red Faction: Guerilla whereby you had to swing your arms to smash things. Or Batman: Arkham Asylum whereby you actually punch your foes, fling Batarangs and pull grates off of walls, all without losing the graphics. Admit it, it would be awesome. Well in this universe, it was awesome. The Xbox had a head start in the race and with PS3 being released at similar time, but as a more expensive choice, the race was well and truly hotting up. The Xbox and Wii, with comparable prices, were the two to watch. The Wii had some initial trouble due to overheating and limited exclusive games, but once these issues were overcome, it wasn’t long before it began to overtake the 360 in sales. The PS3 was still having exactly the same issues it did in our ‘real’ timeline, so, for the moment, it wasn’t a contender.
Despite its larger price tag, the Wii still went on to sell 10’s of millions and an inevitable price reduction helped things move faster. With graphically equal games and the selling point of the Wiimotes, it still emerged as the dominant brand. More and more exclusives were being made and this time, they were good. The games industry was witnessing a revolution. With games that not only looked, sounded and felt amazing, the controllers meant people were now becoming an extension to the game, which increased the experience, heightened the entertainment value and at the same time, gave exercise to all that used it. But these controls also attached a stigma to the console. Despite this new range of top quality games, the Wii was still seen as a ‘childish’ console and this is where Sony and Microsoft came out on top. Just like our timeline, Sony went ahead with the PS3 Slim which boosted their sales enormously and Sony was now seen to be on the tail of the 360, albeit a lot more sales were needed. But neither console would surpass Nintendo. Families and social gaming appeared to be far more powerful than the serious gamer.
We were having a ball using the new console, but whist getting over excited on a game of Batman, Raen let the controller slip from his hand and it went crashing into the microwave. I looked at him with a disapproving shake of the head. I had previously advised him that no amount of time-travelling would actually make him Batman. The damage caused us to instantly return to our timeline. Some people just can’t be trusted. I handed Raen the spanner.
Hopefully our microwave will be fixed for next week.