They have traditionally had two different lines:
- Handhelds (the Gameboys, the DS). They are the dominant handheld gaming platform and have been for years.
- Consoles (NES, SNES, N64, GCN). Using monopolistic practices the NES became the dominant system, but since then they have struggled and fallen behind.
Game consoles have grown more powerful with every generation. Graphics have progressed from 2D to 3D fixed-function T&L to 3D Shaders. Resolutions have gone up from 480i to HD (480p, 720p, 1080i, and the theoretical 1080p). Sound has gone from midi to Dolby 5.1. Memory, CPU speeds, bus bandwidth, disk speed, and disk capacity have all kept pace with Moore’s Law. This trend shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
However, with the addition of CD-ROM, game consoles started to provide non-gaming functions. Picture, video, music, and tv content have all found ways into the game consoles. This has led the other major console manufacturers to call their consoles a ‘computer entertainment system‘ (Playstation) or a ‘video game and entertainment system‘ (Xbox).
Console manufacturers cannot possibly create every game for their system, they really on third parties to provide the majority of the games — EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Namco, Capcom, Take 2/Rockstar, Konami, Sega, and Square are the biggest publishers.
It is in these latter two areas that Nintendo has really struggled. Nintendo was slow to move to optical media and hasn’t had a lot of third party support since. The larger console gaming market has followed the third party publishers in their purchasing decisions and haven’t given Nintendo consoles much love.
This has led Nintendo to not make a new gaming console — as far as its competitors are concerned. Instead, Nintendo is going to making a gaming ‘toybox.’ It is barely more powerful than their previous system, has no HD support, no widescreen, and uses a bunch of ‘innovative’ peripheral ideas in lieu of the standard gaming controller.
A lot hasn’t been revealed about the system. Yesterday, Nintendo finally announced the name — the Nintendo Wii.
The announcement came with a trailer reminiscent of the Pixar logo and a bunch of marketing psychobabble justifying the name. Community feedback has been pretty harsh (at least on Joystiq, Evil Avatar, and IGN). A lot has been made of the fact that it’s pronounced ‘wee’, which is slang for excising and when repeated twice it is slang for male genitals.
However, I haven’t seen mention of what is going to happen when it gets abbreviated to a few letters: NWE. Which is quite similar to ennui*. Which means ‘boredom from lack of interest’ (Encarta).
* Yes, I realize ennui is pronounced on-we. Which is yet another reason Webster and I are mortal rivals**.
** Yes, mortal rivals doesn’t really mean anything since I just made it up by combining rivals with MORTAL KOMBAT!1!!11!
UPDATED: Fixed ‘wee’ and ‘wee-wee’ confusion on my part. It seems that sometimes, when standing in front of the urinal, I excise male genitalia.