Will Wii win the console war at Christmas?

By Craig Zammit

SYDNEY: The launch last week of Nintendo’s Wii video games console has spurred retailers to suggest it could take the champion crown during Christmas despite strong sales and intense marketing by Microsoft of its competing Xbox 360 console.

The Wii’s unique control mechanisms have created a buzz in the media, with some analysts reporting it has gained the edge in the Christmas console battle.

“For Christmas, the Wii has won already. People are calling up and placing orders and we just can’t get enough of them,” Electronics Boutique Games salesperson, Ken Le, told Current.com.au

“There is so much more demand for the Wii than for anything else, I think it will dominate every family market.”

The demand has led to stock shortages Australia-wide, with Wii units failing to ship as fast as consumers can buy them, leaving many gaming retailers left running on empty.

And at a time when Xbox 360 gamers are challenging players on the other side of world via internet-based multiplayer networks, the Wii is bringing the challenge into lounge rooms across the world, creating a communal gaming experience, which could turn out to be its greatest asset.

“With the Wii games being so easy to learn and so intuitive, it actually brings people together, because now Mum and Dad can join in on the fun.”

The current perception of distinctly different markets for the Xbox 360 and the Wii may also be fading, with reports of Microsoft’s core market of hardcore gamers turning to the Wii with unexpected enthusiasm.

“Some of the games are a lot more intense than people initially thought, meaning the hardcore gamers are showing a lot more interest in the Wii. It’s the Wii controller; it just presents gamers a new kind of challenge,” he said.

Whether or not the novelty of that challenge will simply give way to tired arms is yet to be seen, with the Xbox 360 presenting players with immersive gaming experiences, without the need to raise a sweat.

With the Xbox 360’s pre-Christmas sales already pleasing Microsoft regional director Xbox Australia and New Zealand, David McLean, the Christmas fight appears well and truly on.

“Xbox 360 is on track to exceed our expectations this Christmas and we’re confident of reaching our worldwide target of 10 million consoles shipped by the end of the year,” McLean told Current.com.au

“Locally, we’ve had a tremendously successful year, setting Australian hardware sales records since launch and we can only see this continuing. We hit 100,000 unit sales in this market faster than any other home console and we hit 400,000 games sales in absolute record time,” he said.

Microsoft will be betting on software advances and better gaming titles to lure consumers away from the Wii this Christmas, with titles such as Gears of War, which has already sold one million units since its November launch, receiving huge marketing activity including in-cinema advertising and billboards littered across Australia.

“Gears of War has been a phenomenon. We couldn’t be happier with the way it has performed so far and without a doubt it has demonstrated the true power of the next generation graphics,” McLean said.

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