Generation FAIL: How I Struck Out with the 7th Generation of Consoles (Part 1)

Chris Kennedy's picture

I love progress. I love seeing gaming hardware evolve. We love our games. We love good, solid gameplay. Every so often we love seeing a new gaming console hit the market. A new generation arrives, and we hop aboard.

The evolution of the hardware is sometimes expected, sometimes innovative, and sometimes shocking. WOW! Look what this baby can do! I have got to get my hands on one of these! New ideas breed new hardware. New games arrive. Gaming is revitalized. Developers get new ideas. People spend money.

People. Spend. Money. It is a cycle that is required. Eventually we hit a lull, and it is time for some new hardware to shake things up. People stand in line for new hardware for days. They are excited about spending their money on new hardware. It might be terribly expensive, but who cares!? It is the latest and greatest! Well... OK. Maybe it is the latest, but it isn't the greatest. Hardware developers are biting off more than they can chew, and early adopters PAY for it - literally. They pay with their pockets - possibly twice per console.

Enter Chris. That is me. At some point about 12 years prior to this writing, I decided to start collecting videogames. Emulators were thriving in 2000, but I wanted the real thing. I glanced over what I had, determined what I was missing, decided what I wanted, and moved forward. By the time 2005/2006 hit, I was fully prepared for the next generation of consoles. I acquired the X-Box 360 in early January 2006 (nowhere to be found that Christmas), Playstation 3 near its launch, and the Wii in March 2006 on a lucky day when I just happened to walk into Target and saw them sitting on the shelf.

This is part 1 of this blog entry. Let's talk Wii.

I had been checking the local Target for a Wii for quite some time - Went through Christmas 2006, started using online trackers that told you when it arrived in stock, and hit stores every so often just to see if I got lucky. I finally got one in March of 2006. It was still quite early enough that friends of mine said, "hey! hey! Chris got a Nintendo Wii! Bring it over, man!" I had scored my last console from Generation 7.

Although I cannot recall the exact timing of Wii FAIL, I want to say that it happened within a year. Immediately after booting my Wii one day, the graphics started to show various signs of artifacts. "Vertical lines of burn" would seem to start flickering through the graphics before even playing a game. What was once a white button was now a white button that seemed to be taking on contiguous vertical lines of pixels that would rapidly change color.

Part of me hoped that one of the recent firmware releases was causing problems, but I knew that was one heck of a wish. The long time PC builder inside of me said, "cooling failure." That idea was grounded in reality a bit more than hoping for bad firmware. People were saying that the GPU was overheating because of Wii Connect24. I didn't even use that. Either way, I had a cooling problem.

Apparently the graphics processor of the Wii (the GPU) wasn't adequately cooled. Well, go figure. It would seem to be a trend with the 7th Generation of consoles. I had a glitched Wii, I was within the warranty period, and I quickly took action.

Nintendo must have been aware of the problem. It didn't take much to tell them I had a problem and have an exchange setup. I mailed in the Wii and received a replacement in return. New serial number - most likely a refurbished unit. It didn't take long to get it, and it is still working just fine as of 2012. That said, I really don't play it all too often.

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Of all of the consoles of Generation 7, the Nintendo Wii failed first. Quite ironic considering that I owned the other two major consoles of this generation.

Oh, but this story is only at its beginning...!

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I have a Wii and a 360, and

I have a Wii and a 360, and haven't had any issues with either one. I think I've used the 360 everyday since purchase, usually just to watch some Netflix or a DVD. The Wii was used for Netflix earlier, but now I only fire it up for the inexplicably rare hidden object games, when I can find them for the system. I still think it's a sad and HUGE opportunity completely missed by Nintendo. The system is PERFECT for hidden object games, yet they remain dominant only for the PC casual market.

I guess Nintendo must be asserting itself somehow to keep the price of all Nintendo games at or above the $20 mark. Except for used games and the occasional Amazon sale, I've never seen them below $15. That's a real problem (IMO) for a casual market, which needs games at the $10 mark. I think it's not too late even now for the Wii to see a resurgence if it could fully tap into that casual market, the moms and dads buying up those slowly but steadily increasing shelves dedicating to hidden object and bejeweled clones. I know I'd get very excited if I could go to Wal-Mart and see a dozen or so new casual games for the Wii for $10 or less. Yes, I know you can get a lot of that stuff online or with Wii's virtual store, fine. But my assumption is that the kind of person buying casual games for his PC at Wal-Mart isn't interested in an option like that. I tried the Wii virtual store a few times and found it ineffective; the one hidden object game I downloaded was really terrible. I mean, if you can't even do that genre right, what the heck ??

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Bill Loguidice
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Wii
Matt Barton wrote:

I guess Nintendo must be asserting itself somehow to keep the price of all Nintendo games at or above the $20 mark. Except for used games and the occasional Amazon sale, I've never seen them below $15. That's a real problem (IMO) for a casual market, which needs games at the $10 mark. I think it's not too late even now for the Wii to see a resurgence if it could fully tap into that casual market, the moms and dads buying up those slowly but steadily increasing shelves dedicating to hidden object and bejeweled clones. I know I'd get very excited if I could go to Wal-Mart and see a dozen or so new casual games for the Wii for $10 or less. Yes, I know you can get a lot of that stuff online or with Wii's virtual store, fine. But my assumption is that the kind of person buying casual games for his PC at Wal-Mart isn't interested in an option like that. I tried the Wii virtual store a few times and found it ineffective; the one hidden object game I downloaded was really terrible. I mean, if you can't even do that genre right, what the heck ??

Inexplicably, I think some time in 2010 or early 2011, Nintendo seemed to have lost enthusiasm for the Wii, and in turn it lost consumer momentum. Certainly much of that can be attributed to it reaching a critical sales mass - it really couldn't penetrate into more households at the rate it was going at its peak. Third parties also lost enthusiasm for the platform, outside of stalwarts like Ubisoft. At the same time, the Xbox 360 reversed its own momentum and re-captured the public's interest and then some, thanks in part to its games, and in another part to Kinect. Now the 360 has that solid combination of games, casual (Kinect) and media, with apparently more people using it for the latter than even gaming.

It's all an interesting study in design. Nintendo gambled correctly on things like a new type of control scheme, low price and their usual Nintendo properties, but lost out on long-term momentum due in part to not having enough forward thinking technology in the box. While Nintendo has proven time and again that powerful hardware is not the reason a system sells, they've also proven with the Wii that you do indeed need some minimum levels, in this case HD like the other two consoles. If the Wii had just a bit more power and HD resolutions, it might have never lost momentum and might of even had more consistent third party support.

In any case, the Wii is just going to continue to limp along until the Wii U comes out in November. Nintendo's main interest for the time being lies with the 3DS, which is doing gangbusters in Japan and selling well enough everywhere else. I just hope that the Wii U is indeed at least a little more powerful than the present PS3 and 360 technology, rather than on par, otherwise we may very well run into a similar type of frustration next generation...

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Matt Barton
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Hey, Bill, are there any

Hey, Bill, are there any multiplayer hidden object games for Kinect? That'd actually be a decisive factor for me, since that and puzzle games are the only thing these days I can get the wife interested in playing.

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Bill Loguidice
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Not that I know of
Matt Barton wrote:

Hey, Bill, are there any multiplayer hidden object games for Kinect? That'd actually be a decisive factor for me, since that and puzzle games are the only thing these days I can get the wife interested in playing.

Not that I know of. It's mostly fitness, dance, martial arts, and mini-game stuff, with the occasional core and puzzle games (and all I can think of for a puzzle game, really, is Leedmees, which, while multiplayer fun, is by no means enough to get a Kinect for). Only recently has Xbox Live Arcade been getting regular Kinect releases, so maybe some will eventually come.

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Matt Barton
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The thing about hidden object

The thing about hidden object games with the Wii is that multiplayer support is very feasible. I assume it'd be also with Kinect. I've hooked up two mice to play multiplayer of a sort with the PC, but you're just controlling the same pointer (and who has 2 mice sitting around?) Almost everyone with a Wii has at least 2 wiimotes, though.

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Bill Loguidice
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Multiplayer
Matt Barton wrote:

The thing about hidden object games with the Wii is that multiplayer support is very feasible. I assume it'd be also with Kinect. I've hooked up two mice to play multiplayer of a sort with the PC, but you're just controlling the same pointer (and who has 2 mice sitting around?) Almost everyone with a Wii has at least 2 wiimotes, though.

Yeah, Kinect generally tracks two to four players without issue. There have even been some games like Happy Action Theater that supports more, which, in the case of that game, was six players at once. I would think two at once would probably be most comfortable for a hidden object game.

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davyK
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Joined: 05/21/2006
Jewel Quest Trilogy for Wii

Jewel Quest Trilogy for Wii is worth a look - cheap as anything and loads of content (1 player only though sadly)....

davyK
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Joined: 05/21/2006
If the Wii Connect 24 is

If the Wii Connect 24 is enabled all the time the Wii runs hot even when on standy - alarmingly so. When I discovered this I disabled the 24 connection.. I believe it's the heat that screws the GPU up. However my Wii still failed - but it was the drive that needed fixing as it started to fail to read discs - it was repaired at a price (it was 3 years old) and the experience was reasonably good with online tracking etc.

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Wii prices- Nintendo basicly

Wii prices- Nintendo basicly gets $10 a game.. so.. selling it for under $20 us farily hard and make a profit (ms, and sony also have royalties.. but Nintendo makes more per unit then either). MS had a rule no game could be under $29.. but that has died at some time.

I have a lunch 360 which works fine. BUT, as far as i know im the only one of my 'circle of friends" with an early white one that hasnt replaced it at least once. It pretty common knowledge it was over 25% fail rate in the begining (most put it 40%, and gamestop listed those numbers on internal memo's). I heard the Wii had several disc read error problems (and i ran across it on modded ones alot). The PS3 has the "yellow light of death" but it sounds like its about average fail rate (along with the Wii). From my understanding MS has got much better (normal fail rates) with the new SLIM, and the PS3 has too... I fixed quite a few of the old 360, it was a simple heat problem and the way they handled how the Heatsink attached.. the board would warp when hot.. and the cold soldier joints would lose connection. The most common fix for the RROD on the 360 is with the heatsink and how it contacts the chips.. (overheats) the 2nd is reballing it (redoing hte soilder joints).. both will fix in 99% of the time..

But I must admit this generation was fail for lasting as far as it appears. Whats worse is the HD issues.. when released they where (on 360 and PS3) just bonus things.. now they are pretty much required to get the full effect.. leaving alot of people who purchased (at release) out int hecold as they couldnt afford the huge $100+ prces for somethng that "appeard" to not be needed at the time.. The Wii as nintendo often does.. just said "screw it" and stuck to its guns.. heck its really on its first "normal" media machine... SD cards was nice, but really lacking in size. Ninendo has alwasy been behind in media.. they held on to carts to long and it hurt them.

And here i thouhgt this was going to be about the new modern console controlers.. I missed the boat on them.. i stil cant play any game with any real control unless its a game that could be played on na old nes gamepad :)

Anonymous (not verified)
I don't understand how this

I don't understand how this relates to the title as "striking out" with the latest consoles. So you had an issue with the Wii, and Nintendo replaced it free of charge due to its still being under warranty. How do you consider this detrimental if you got a working replacement? Hopefully, you can elaborate on upcoming parts to this post as you mention.

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