Overall, I like the Wii in general. I think it works great, the games on it are unique, fun and interesting. I like the download service and have several, the channels are great though I haven’t been voting recently which I need to get back into, and I’m excited about the future of the console in general.
My real problem with it is the cost of software. When Nintendo announced the Wii they made a point to say that the software would be just as affordable as the hardware, saying that they won’t release a game for over $50, in contrast to the $60 of most Microsoft games at the time. While this is still great for the top tier games coming to the Wii like Zelda, Super Paper Mario, Madden, and SSX Blur, it doesn’t necessarily translate to more affordable, or rather better value software.
A perfect example for this is Cooking Mama. Cooking Mama was originally part of the DS Touch Generations, which retail at only $19.99, in stark contrast to a normal title’s $29.99-$34.99. Yet, when they ported the game over to the Wii, they changed some functionality for the control, and added a couple small features and recipes, yet the game was essentially the same. And for this very little effort put forward by the devs, they have decided to charge the full price of $49.99. We see it again with Trauma Center, another almost direct port that got increased another $20 in price just for coming to the Wii. It used to be games were ported from the consoles and decreased in price, not to the consoles and increased in price, people will pay less for a game they already own just to make it portable, they usually won’t pay more to make it unportable. I think Cooking Mama would have done well if they priced it at $29.99-34.99, similarily i think Trauma Center would have done well at $39.99. At max price, these two games didn’t feel like you were getting your money’s worth but at budget price I think they would have done well.
Relatedly, I also think the Virtual Console is fairly overpriced as well, though i actually like the service. I think all we’ve really learned is that fanatics and reviewers will buy them all, but for everyone else only the top tier games like Zelda and Mario are worth full price. I think the best example of the overpricing of the Virtual Console is with the recently released Galaga which is a great game, but the 360 has the same game at about the same price, just remastered with additional features and better graphics. Why are we paying the same for less?
I think to fix the VC they need to do two things. First they need to have a tiered pricing system, not based just on console, but also based on quality of title. For instance, each console would have tier A, B, & C. For the NES the A tier titles could go for $5-6, B would go for $4, and C would go for $3. (the reason for the upper range in tier A is because I do think there are AA titles, and I also think some titles are getting hit with liscensing which is causing price to go up, like the NES TMNT game which is being sold at $6 for no reason). I think this would satisfy everyone. A game like Galaga may still be at $5 because it is top tier in quality, but games like Soccer which are awful could go at $3 and see slightly more sales and give the buyer a feeling of value for their money ($3 isn’t much to spend even for a crappy game). This could all change if they started providing online play & leaderboards to games and instantly they would feel more worthwhile.
The second thing they need to do is offer some sort of rental service. Either allow people to rent a game for $1 for a week/month, or allow people to download 5-6 games a month at $10 a month. There was talk of such a thing before launch, and I hope they are actually just waiting to have a decent inventory of games and kinks worked out to do it, because this is something that is really needed. This would help promote quality games that didn’t really sell well and get known when they were new, like Ristar. You are totally dependent on reviews on these older games you’ve never heard of and sometimes reviews aren’t right. What a rental service would provide is a way for people to actually try out some of these older games, much like going to blockbuster to try out a new game like it used to be done. I do think this will happen eventually, but I hope they make it a good value because value still needs to occur on the platform.