The argument against this would be that the Wii is still selling out and making considerable sums of money for Nintendo. That's true, but Nintendo know that they need to play their hand carefully if they want to keep hold of the new audience they've brought into the gaming scene. If those gamers get bored with the Wii, chances are they won't bother buying a new one, especially not if it's little more than a tech upgrade with a few added whistles. Nintendo need to catch them while they're still riding the Wii's wave of popularity: if they wait until it has crashed onto the shore without putting anything else on the horizon, the beach could empty quickly.
The unpredictability of these new gamers means Nintendo will have to rely once again on their traditional fanbase, at the very least as a fall-back plan should none of the new audience be interested in paying more for fresh tech. Nintendo covered this problem intelligently in their release of Wii Fit Plus
, by marketing the game as an add-on to the original that cost less for people who had already invested. By releasing so many key games in 2010, Nintendo can revive gamers' interest in the Wii as a serious console, then use that momentum to carry them into announcing their new hardware, most likely at the beginning of next year. With that fire already burning, they could do a full presentation at E3 and launch five months later. Given Nintendo's recent enthusiasm for short build-up periods (the new Zelda
will most likely only be officially revealed at this year's E3, six-odd months before it gets released if the Christmas prediction is correct, while previous titles in the series have kept fans waiting for years in between announcement and release), the idea is not as outlandish as it may first sound.
There's also the Natal and PS3 motion wand factors to take into account. If Nintendo aren't planning a new console and the current release splurge is nothing more than a short-term strategy, gamers will have absolutely no reason to continue buying the Wii once Sony and Microsoft enter the motion game: the console's control advantage will be gone, the tech will still be outdated and there will be no sign of any major new releases on the horizon. Nintendo have made a lot of stupid mistakes this generation, but their business-savvy has been spectacular and trumped the competition at every turn. A new console announcement would kick both Natal and the PS3 wand into the shade, especially if Nintendo have some ideas beyond HD (which they will) on how to grow on the potential for new experiences that the Wii has shown. Microsoft and Sony have both said that they want to keep the current console generation going for a while longer, especially given how much they've spent on their consoles and the likely cost of their entry into the motion control arena, so a Nintendo launch would go entirely uncontested (are M&S going to announce something else big so close to Natal and the wand getting off the ground? Unlikely).
I'd like to hear some thoughts on this speculation, as it seems to me that if I'm wrong, Nintendo could be walking themselves into a very dangerous corner, to the extent that I find it difficult to believe that anything other than a new console could be in their plans for 2011. That said, I look forward to the comments made at Christmas next year, when everyone will be able to look back and laugh.
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