Nintendo 2007 E3 Media and Business Summitt Balancing Act

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by Kyle Ackerman

Nintendo's press event at the 2007 E3 Media and Business Summit was the most remarkable of the three platform holders' events, in that Nintendo actually had a few surprises to throw at the crowd. To be clear, most of the Nintendo event was self-congratulatory, celebrating the success of the Wii and the DS with an endless stream of YouTube videos and clips from various news shows. The Wii, and its success so far, is a remarkable achievement, and Nintendo should be proud. But no one goes to such an event simply to hear a company gloat. We want news... announcements... actual content. And Nintendo did have a little content to offer.

Most of the conference, however, focused on the new gamers Nintendo has brought, and hopes yet to bring, into the gaming fold. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime declared, "this E3 marks a conclusive turning point for the video game industry" and called the event, "a coming-out party for an entire industry." He wasn't speaking of the mess that is the new E3 Media and Business Summit. Instead, he meant that video games are actually reaching a broader audience, demonstrating that everyone is, on some level, a gamer.

After Nintendo showed some sales and demographics numbers (several of which included spurious comparisons of console sales from the beginning of the Wii cycle to the end of the last console generation), and noted that developers really are realigning to produce more Wii and DS games, the event moved on to the meat. Nintendo revealed several new hardware items for the Wii, as well as the "Check Mii Out" channel. "Check Mii Out" will let Wii owners to share their Miis, and allow others to vote on their caricatures. There will be contests, such as creating the most faithful Mii celebrity likeness.

Two of the hardware announcements were for new Wii controller configurations. The Wii Zapper will hold the Wii remote and nunchuk controllers in a gun-like housing. The configuration looks like a (silly, white) assault rifle and will complement both first-person shooter games (like Medal of Honor and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles) and light-gun games. The Zapper will cost just under $20, but will also be packaged with light-gun games. Nintendo also passed on Sega's announcement that it will bring some classic, light-gun games to the Wii. There will also be a steering wheel for the Wii, packaged with Mario Kart Wii. The wheel will house the Wii remote to let you drive a tiny, disembodied car.

But the biggest announcement of the event was Shigeru Miyamoto's newest project, Wii Fit. The title uses the new Wii Balance Board, a sort of wireless scale for the Wii, with a sensor for each foot. Wii Fit will allow the entire household to perform core exercises and track fitness information. Players will be able to compare Body Mass Index (BMI) numbers, but not outright weight, to avoid embarrassment. The title then includes around 40 activities, including step aerobics, yoga, muscle conditioning and balance games. Some seem like pure workout exercises, while others are lighthearted games, like leaning back and forth to head soccer balls down the field and dodge flying cleats. The board can even use weight distribution to help you with your posture.

Nintendo did show off games like Mario Kart Wii, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Mario Galaxy to appease the hardcore gamer fan base, but Nintendo continued to put its money where its casual gaming mouth is. New hardware like the Wii balance board and software Wii Fit, along with a multitude of casual and "coach" style games for its platform, just reinforced Nintendo's determination and success in expanding the market for games. That doesn't mean the Wii will ultimately defeat the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 in some sort of solid-state deathmatch. Rather, it shows Nintendo has done what it set out to do – broaden the audience of gamers, while still appeasing the hardcore.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on July 11, 2007 7:44 PM.

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