Most people in first world countries have either played or at least heard of Nintendo’s mold-breaking system, the Wii. For its generation (i.e. the generation of gaming systems being sold), Nintendo sold 30 million more units than either Sony’s Playstation 3 or Microsoft’s Xbox 360. From 2006-2007 – the period when the Wii was released – Nintendo’s profits increased by 90 percent. I posit that results like that make for a very successful product. What I find amazing about this system, however, is not how many units were sold or profits the company made off it. I am astounded by the medicinal uses people have discovered this system can provide, which I will go into detail about later.
Now that the Wii has proven to be successful people compare Nintendo’s recently announced system, the Wii U, to it. They believe that while the Wii was slated to be a great product from its launch, the Wii U doesn’t look that way. However, Nintendo’s president, Satoru Iwata remembers differently. When the Wii was first announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 2006, people were skeptical of it, thinking it would flop. In an interview, Mr. Iwata said, “For the Wii, before its launch and right after its announcement…[a]lmost every one of the reporters asked, ‘How in the world are you going to compete with Sony or Microsoft with a product like this?'” The Wii was different and people didn’t know how to react to it.
The stereotypical gamer, a teenage to 20-something male, is interested in high-definition graphics with action-driven games. From the outset, Nintendo knew the Wii didn’t have the hardware to compete with its competitors’ systems. It did have a much lower price, however. Instead of marketing the system to an unlikely demographic, Nintendo marketed the system to people who historically didn’t play games, such as women and older consumers. The low price tag and easy-to-learn controls attracted these people, giving Nintendo demographics that its competitors took years to reach.
As I mentioned earlier, the Wii wasn’t just a successful product because of its sheer sales; people also came up with ways to help people heal from wounds. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the Wii is used in departments such as physical therapy and occupational therapy. One of its peripherals, the Wii Balance Board, also helps veterans to get accustomed to using a prosthetic leg. There have even been studies here at Bucknell that use the Wii Balance Board to study the elderly. What started out as a gaming system turned into something that can truly change people’s lives.