As the Nintendo Wii enters it’s fifth year on the market, rumors and whispers about the next Nintendo console are becoming more and more common. Nintendo’s previous game consoles have typically had 5 years on the market before the successor has been released, but does that necessary mean that the follow up to the Wii will be unleashed on the public in 2011?
Aside from the typical 5 year life cycle of Nintendo consoles there are several other indications that it might be time for Nintendo to move on from the Wii. For one thing, the once mighty console has seen stagnating sales this year. Typically the Wii has been outselling every other home console week in and week out, but this fall it has fallen behind both the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360 in worldwide sales for several weeks. While this in part is due to both Sony and Microsoft releasing their own motion sensing hardware it still points to demand for the Wii being in decline.
The release of Kinect and Move from Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 removes one of the Wiis strongest competitive advantages. The Nintendo console is no longer the only console that offers proper motion controlled gaming. With this technical advantage reduced, the Wii’s relative lack of graphical power becomes significant. Certain industry analysts have been calling for a HD upgrade to the Wii for some time, but that upgrade will most likely never happen. In stead, Nintendo will include HD graphics in their next console. With increased competition they might be inclined to jump to more powerful hardware sooner rather than later.
On the other hand, there are several compelling reasons why Nintendo is not likely to release a new home console next year. First of all, while the Wii is under performing compared to previous years it’s important to remember that it is coming off a record setting pace. While sales have slowed down, they are still very healthy, something that was recently illustrated by Nintendo reporting massive sales number for this years Black Friday sales. The Wii looks like it is paced to post another impressive holiday season proving that the console is still in great demand with many customers.
Another strong indication that Nintendo will hold off on their next console is the games that have been announced for the Wii in 2011. Most notably the next Zelda game, Skyward Sword. While it is possible that Nintendo will move the next Zelda game to their next console like they did with Twilight Princess, it is not likely. Especially considering that the game is being designed to fully use the Motion Plus controls. In addition to Zelda, Nintendo have several other big games either announced or rumored. They have also hinted at the Vitality sensor hardware several times. The vitality sensor could provide a fresh boost for the Wii if it is released with compelling software. The rumored ‘Wii Relax’ game has the potential to create another Wii Fit-like craze.
Finally, Nintendo is already launching a new platform early in 2011. The legendary DS will be replaced by the new 3DS. Nintendo is pushing their new hand held device very hard. They will most likely want to give the 3DS more than half a year on the market to establish itself without a new Nintendo home console stealing any of its thunder.
Even though the Wii is starting to show some signs of age, it still has plenty of life left in it. Nintendo is in the unfamiliar position of not having to release a new console until they decide it is time. Unfortunately for gaming fans that probably means they have to wait a couple of more years for Nintendo’s next offering. No matter when Nintendo decides to replace the Wii with new hardware, one thing is guaranteed; Their next console will be one of the most anticipated devices ever.