The Wii is one of the most iconic consoles of all time, proving to be a worldwide phenomenon in its six years on the market. Its success was exceptional considering it managed to take on the likes of the much more powerful PS3 and Xbox 360 despite its much weaker technological capabilities. Despite this unexpected turnout, it appears that Nintendo’s competitors aren’t that salty about it. Phil Spencer, the Head of Xbox, was recently featured in Crackle’s documentary: Playing With Power: The Nintendo Story. In the documentary, Spencer shares some kind words about Nintendo’s efforts over the years. As spotted by Video Games Chronicle, Spencer flat out says that he “could have never designed the Wii”, admitting that such an undertaking is not something he’s “brave enough” to carry out.
Here are his full comments:
“I remember seeing it and I’ll tell you, I could have never designed the Wii… I don’t have that in me. I don’t know if I’m not brave enough or whatever as a platform holder now to go and do something as just completely different, and to be just so all-in on a new paradigm was just amazing to see.”
Wii would like to have fun
The Wii was special seeing that it along with the DS were the beginning of an entire shift in strategy for Nintendo. Before, the company did focus on power, like with the Gamecube. Despite it being a mostly traditional system, however, it was Nintendo’s lowest-selling console up to that point. This is why Nintendo saw it fit to venture off on another path, and it’s been blazing that trail ever since. Phil Spencer’s comments show the depth of such a decision for a massive company. Big companies often don’t tend to take risks, mostly preferring to just go with whatever the market trends are in order to appeal to the widest array of customers. That’s exactly what Microsoft and Sony have always done and continue to do; the market mostly likes more power, so they give the market more powerful boxes every few years.
On the other hand, for nearly two decades, Nintendo has made it a point to stand out from the rest of the console makers by producing hardware that’s more focused on fun than pushing technological barriers. This focus on gameplay innovation versus power improvements has proven both to be quite the interesting path for the company. In some cases, it works, as we saw with the Wii and are seeing right now with the stellar performance of the Switch. But, then we have cases like the Wii U, where Nintendo’s entire future was called into question due to its weak sales.
A quirky giant
But, despite Nintendo’s quirks, it’s a company that even Spencer admits in this same documentary that is highly influential to the entire industry. He went as far as to say that “you [can’t] decouple the video game industry from Nintendo. I think they’re intrinsically tied.”
As Nintendo continues to forge ahead on a journey of its own, it wants to do so in a way that’s inherently unique. Current Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa said as much in a recent interview where he stated that Nintendo’s philosophy for bringing a product to market is making sure that it’s “fun” first.
This explains how the company is willing to take chances with seemingly outlandish (but arguably brilliant) ideas like Nintendo Labo, which is literally a series of cardboard toy controllers that can interact with the Switch Joy-Con. You’d never see Microsoft or Sony do something like that, but for Nintendo, it’s something that it’s willing to roll with anytime that the seemingly golden opportunity arises.