Would the Wii be as successful without Wii Sports?

After hearing how successful the Wii has become in the last few months (which is unbelievable for a Nintendo fanboy such as myself), I’ve been trying to figure out why. I mean, it’s Nintendo we’re talking about. They’ve been in third place for some time now, but to see a such turn-around in that short amount of time is literally awe-inspiring.

Wii Sports: the most expensive game on the market.

But how? How has Nintendo gone from the little unknown guy to the one that has captured even your grandma’s heart? That question is easily answered with one thing: Wii Sports. This little piece of software is the main reason why the Wii is so successful, if at all. It’s a game where anyone can play without any inhibition. People like my mom would shy away from video games, but when it comes to Wii Sports, she’s right there beside me, trying to figure out every nuance the game has.

Most of you are probably going to say, “But Wii Sports would not be possible without the wii-mote, which makes the controller the real reason it’s so popular.” In theory, you’re on the right track. But do this one thing for me: take Wii Sports out of the equation. Think either Nintendo never made it or it’s coming out in a few months from now. Now, would the Wii be as popular without Wii Sports?

And the answer is a resounding No. If Nintendo didn’t release Wii Sports, we would have branded the wii-mote as a complete gimmick. The games that are out now pale in comparison to what Wii Sports has shown the world in terms of controller innovation. Not even Zelda could have saved the Wii had there been no Wii Sports. Many people saw very little innovation in Zelda, and it would have done little to make sweet ol’ granny pick up the wii-mote. And forget about most 3rd parties. Although there are some good ideas out there, 3rd parties are still coming to grips with what the Wii is capable of.

Also, think about the people that don’t have a Wii right now. They keep hearing, from either Wii owners or the Internets, about how amazing Wii Sports is, and are probably dying to play that game more than anything else. And that’s exactly what people like my mom are looking forward to when they do wait in line for a Wii. They’re not thinking about what great games could come from the Wii like most hardcore gamers, they’re thinking how fun it’s gonna be to go home and kick little Jr.’s ass in bowling, or how awesome it will be to sink a hole-in-oner.

If Wii Sports was never released, the Wii would have been DOA on Nov 20th, 2006. Even if they did release it later, it would have been too late. Nintendo did the smartest thing by packing the system with Wii Sports on day one.

Whenever I read those articles about how many Wii units were sold, it’s basically telling you how many people want to play Wii Sports. “Wii” is merely a buffer word for “Wii Sports” in those financial statements from Nintendo or NPD.

So, to whomever pitched the idea for Wii Sports: you totally deserve a double chocolate chip cookie. With rainbow sprinkles.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
17 years ago

I don’t know if its Wii Sports’ strength as a good as much as the idea of giving it for free. One of the sports in the game has a much deeper, full retail release for people to play. The rest will eventually follow. Its simplicity is what allows Grandma to play the game and have fun. Its the perfect Gateway drug for the console.

17 years ago

I will agree with that, Christian, but the game still has to be good. I’m sure if Zelda was included instead, the system would still not sell as well as it has. And I know I shouldn’t include this situation with the Japanese market, as they are more akin to liking innovative stuff, but look at the success of the Wii over there, without having the game bundled in. It sold over a million copies, which is probably a 1:1 ratio. The game is just really good, I think.