The life of the Nintendo Wii - through the eyes of Satoru Iwata

Chris Morris takes a look back at his many conversations about the Wii with Nintendo's leader

No one had a better view of the development and evolution of the Wii than Satoru Iwata.

Throughout the console's seven-year life-cycle, the president of Nintendo acted as its biggest cheerleader, defender and, at times, critic. He was a driving force in the company selling over 100 million systems and is now trying to spur that sort of interest in the Wii's successor.

I've been extremely fortunate to speak regularly with Iwata. And since 2005, he and I have been talking about (among other things) the Wii. At the time, the system - which was still being called by its code name 'Revolution' - was viewed to be a hard sell. The controller had only been shown to a handful of reporters - and analysts worried that Nintendo had pressed its luck far enough with the Nintendo DS, whose dual screens were (at the time) viewed as being a radical departure from the norm.

Iwata, though, never wavered in his confidence.

"It's going to be a challenge to take something that's a new concept and new idea and convey to the public ... how to understand it, but honestly I think the Revolution controller is going to be a lot easier to convey to the public than the DS was as a system," he said. "We've learned a lot in terms of how to communicate to people these new and different ideas and because of the experience we had with the DS, we're much more prepared."

Part of the reason for that assuredness was his own experience when using the controller. Iwata might have come from a game development background, but that didn't make him a master of all genres.

"I was a developer for many years before my current role, but I've never been a very good gamer," he said. "I've never been able to control a first-person shooter, but as soon as I used the Revolution controller, I found it very easy to control the game. So, I think that's a genre that's particularly well suited for the controller."

And while Microsoft and Sony were busy touting the high definition revolution, Iwata stayed laser focused on widening the gaming audience. Of course, the company succeeded at that - but ironically, the lack of high definition graphics later proved to be one of the turning points that marked the beginning of the end for the Wii.

"Until now, within a single household, we've had family members who play video games and family members who don't play video games - and they've been very separate," he noted. "Gradually, the barriers between those two have gotten stronger. ... Today, if you don't understand the controller, you're not able to enjoy video games. ... We expect [the Revolution controller] to become the standard in video game controls."


Wii Sports Tennis captured everyone's attention

That prediction proved to be a bit too optimistic, but a year later, buzz was building fast about the Wii. Nintendo was gaining praise for its declaration that games for the system would cost $50, instead of the then controversial $60 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 - and the Virtual Console was making old school gamers giddy.

What many don't recall, though, is that there was some debate on whether titles downloaded from the virtual console would belong to the gamers who bought them. Nintendo certainly considered going in the other direction.

"We can set some limitations as to the time period a piece of downloaded content can be played," said Iwata. "Or, we may opt to let users play as long as they want. This gives us a flexible business model."

Those plans never came to fruition, of course. Nor, for that matter, did an idea about Nintendo using the Virtual Console to release must-have new, cheap first party games. But it, too, was considered.

"If we can come up with an addictive, but simple title - such as Tetris 15 years ago - my attention should be focused on containing costs," said Iwata. "So, I would make it available through the Virtual Console. I think the opportunity for ourselves will be much larger than software that costs $50-$60. ... Of course, there are a number of people waiting for a 'masterpiece' title. For those games, we'll utilize traditional distribution channels."

Flash forward to 2008. The Wii is a quantified phenomenon. Retailers are unable to keep units in stores - months after it was released. And Nintendo wasn't able to guarantee people would be able to easily find one in the upcoming holiday.

It was the catbird seat of gaming - but problems were already starting to brew. Core gamers were miffed that the Wii seemed tailored for casual players - and those concerns were stoked by Nintendo's E3 press conference, which went by without a mention of Mario or Zelda - though it did spent a lot of time on Wii Music.

It was the first time Nintendo had to apologize for the Wii.

"If there is any perception that Nintendo is ignoring the core gamers, it's a misunderstanding and we really want to get rid of that misunderstanding by any means," said Iwata. "We are sorry about [the E3] media briefings, specifically for those who were expecting to see Nintendo show something about Super Mario or Legend of Zelda.

"However, the fact of the matter is the so-called 'big titles' need a long, long development period. ... We really didn't think this year's E3 media briefing was the time to do so."

Ultimately, core gamers never fully returned to the Wii. While New Super Mario Bros. was a hit, gamer interest was shifting more and more to the online mode in games like Call of Duty. Within three years, third party publishers had turned their backs too. By 2011, almost all of the year's biggest games bypassed a Wii port.

In 2009, though, the Wii was in the midst of its heyday. In December of that year alone, the system sold 3.8 million units, according to The NPD Group - nearly three times the number of PS3s that were sold.

That same year, Microsoft announced "Project Natal" at its E3 press conference, which would go on to become Kinect. As Iwata had predicted in 2005, the competition was coming.

That raised questions about how Nintendo planned to stay competitive in the future. The Wii was born of the "Blue Ocean" strategy - a corporate philosophy that encourages creating new demand in an uncontested space (a "Blue Ocean"), rather than going head-to-head with competitors in an existing industry (a "Red Ocean").

"So for the time after the Wii U [arrives in stores], I believe both systems will be on the market for some time"

Satoru Iwata

With the competition coming, could Nintendo find another Blue Ocean? Or was it prepared to fight to keep the increasingly red one it was in? Iwata, at the time, said the company was investigating whether branching in a new direction or making an iterative step from the Wii is the right move.

"We have the greater potential to create the blue ocean market when people are skeptical," he said. "So when we realize that other people are coming into [this] market ... there are two things we [can] do. One is trying to intensify the fun nature of something we are already doing. The other is try to create a new blue ocean."

Two years later, we had our answer - the Wii U was unveiled at E3.

Since the system used Wii controllers and was fully backward compatible, there were some obvious questions about the fate of the once-trendsetting console. Nintendo, said Iwata, had no plans to immediately sunset the system, as it did with the GameCube.

"When we consider the people who are first to purchase Wii U and the people who are going to purchase the Wii, I don't think there will be a great overlap between the two," he says. "I believe that those who are waiting to purchase the Wii now are the so-called 'late adopters' and the people waiting to purchase the Wii U are early adopters. So for the time after the Wii U [arrives in stores], I believe both systems will be on the market for some time."

(You'll have to decide for yourself how long "some time" implies.)

At that point, there was no denying the lack of third-party interest in the Wii. Even Nintendo couldn't avoid it. But Iwata did have some ideas as to why the system had become a low priority for partners - though it wasn't what you might think.

He acknowledged the lack of HD graphics was partially to blame, but also took partners to task for not using their best talent. (And, he said, he hoped the Wii U would lure back the A-teams at other studios.)

"In the US, people are very attracted by the sports and the shooter games - and the quality of those graphics are very important," said Iwata. "As a result, it was not necessarily the case to have the software [for the Wii] developed by the top developers of the software companies. And, as a result of that, Wii software was not able to succeed to the extent that third parties wanted [it] to. For this time around, we are able to expect the top [developers] for the top third parties to make games for the Wii U."

Monday, with the short statement on the Wii's product page that read simply "production over," Nintendo quietly put an end to its Revolution in Japan. And while US production continues, according to Nintendo of America reps, it's only a matter of time.

The Wii U, meanwhile, still hasn't caught on like the company had hoped - and Nintendo has understandably chosen to focus virtually all of its efforts on that system.

While gamers and gaming insiders have blamed the Wii U's soft start on a variety of factors from a weak lineup of games to a lack of real innovation, Iwata has another theory - and it's a surprising one. The company, he believes, may have gotten spoiled by how easily audiences embraced the Wii, which resulted in some missteps as it rolled out its new system.

"We are to blame," he said. "We relaxed our [marketing] efforts, so the consumers today still cannot understand what's so good and unique about the Wii U. Because we're always trying to be unique, it takes some energies on our side to [make] people understand the real attractions about whatever we are doing."

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Latest comments (16)

Dave Wolfe Game Developer, Cosmic Games8 years ago
"In the US, people are very attracted by the sports and the shooter games - and the quality of those graphics are very important," said Iwata. "As a result, it was not necessarily the case to have the software [for the Wii] developed by the top developers of the software companies. And, as a result of that, Wii software was not able to succeed to the extent that third parties wanted [it] to. For this time around, we are able to expect the top [developers] for the top third parties to make games for the Wii U."
So because the Wii hardware was a generation behind it's competitors, 3rd parties didn't put their A-Teams on the Wii games, causing sales to suffer. The Wii U is also a generation behind its competitors, so why does Iwata think this will entice 3rd parties to put their best developers on it?

If Nintendo really wants the top talent from the top 3rd parties, they need to deliver modern hardware, not last gen hardware tethered to a mediocre tablet.
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Steve Goldman Journalist. 8 years ago
Whats the point of this article? to troll the man? Extremely lazy just to pick and choose quotes.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Steve Goldman on 23rd October 2013 8:20pm

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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago

The PC master race may not feel that way, but the needs of a console in terms of cost, heat, power, and many other factors are simply not going to go with 1000w power supplies, 125w CPUs, and dual SLI video cards that cost more than the console does in total. X1 and PS4 are modern game console hardware. WiiU is a slightly juiced 360 with a gimmick controller, and an online experience somewhere between the blades and NXE it is very much a mid last-gen experience. Aside from Nintendos development teams seemingly learning nothing from the trials other companies have faced over the last seven years, the WIIU is completely ill equipped to handle a world where 360 isn't around to port from, which is going to become an issue two or three years from now. You'll find the same people who have a WiiU will also have X1 or PS4, and they're not going to buy the gimped version.
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Show all comments (16)
Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 8 years ago
Not that I expect Iwata to directly address this but does anyone else find it worrying that Nintendo's blinkered lack of recognition of the competitors is allowing them to make some really stupid decisions?

For instance, what is the value proposition for most consumers against either the current gen or next gen systems? Nintendo 1st party games is about it and frankly my 3DS is pretty good for that. Why would they expect anyone to buy their system?
- Pretty: PC or next gen
- Fun online: all but Nintendo
- Great catalogue: PC or current gen
- Quirky gameplay: PC or console indies (very few on Nintendo)
- Reasonably price: current gen
- Cheaper games: PC

And I'm just going to stop. Nintendo isn't being "unique" as Iwata put it; it's desperately struggling to find reasons to explain itself.
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Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange8 years ago
You're only sighting things that are important to you. How about:
- Family oriented
- high replay value
- Reliable quality
- Best lineup of exclusives
- Full backwards compatibility
- energy efficiency
- most affordable next gen system (believe it or not, Wii U is next gen)

Nintendo has these things covered which make the system high value.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago

Apples and oranges. The price of entry to play those games on PC was at least double, and to use a wireless 360 controller on PC takes an uncommon puck or its unreliable knockoffs. It doesn't matter if I can get the game 50% off 6 weeks after release if it costs $800 to play it. That's why PC will never be dominant. With console I'm good for the next ten years on one buy. Not $200/year in upgrades.

And that's speaking as a 20 year build my own PC gamer.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Jeff Then you were extremely incompetent at building your own PC. I ran a $700 build (in 2008, including the cost of Windows) through the entire generation. Considering I had both one PS3 and two Xbox 360s fail on me, I spent less on PC hardware than either of those consoles, and my PC still ran games well past the framerate and visual prowess of the consoles this year. I also had to pay for a hard drive upgrade for my PS3. I paid an average of no more than $10 per game for my Steam games, so while playing better versions of the same games (plus far more exclusives) I certainly out-bargained any console gamer. I also played on my 42" 1080p LED TV from my couch. The same TV my other platforms are connected to.

I would be SHOCKED if you only bought one PS3 or 360, considering the rampant failures of those platforms. That said, you probably, ironically, got by on one Wii.

As for Nintendo, they'll be fine, even if the Wii U doesn't do particularly well. I suspect it will do ~30 million worldwide lifetime and Nintendo will move on to something new, but the graphics and power gap this gen is nothing like the leap from SD to HD was. There is not going to be the big "wow factor" gamers had with the big resolution jump to HD last gen. Most people probably couldn't even tell you the difference between a 360 and Xbox One game if you put a gun to their heads. So people claiming the biggest disadvantage of the Wii U is power I feel are quite mistaken. The biggest disadvantage of the Wii U is software library gaps, delays, and lack of third party support to fill those.

The second biggest disadvantage is horrible marketing. It's easy to get why the system is great when you've had a chance to actually play some asymmetric multiplayer, but it's not easily explained in a commercial the way a Wiimote is.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 24th October 2013 1:36pm

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Tom Keresztes Programmer 8 years ago
t doesn't matter if I can get the game 50% off 6 weeks after release if it costs $800 to play it.
You can spend $500 on a new PC, or you can spend $5000. It makes a difference, but you have quite few options between. But its no longer the 90s where cpu speed doubled every year. A 2 year old mid-range PC (i5/i7 sort) still within 20% of the current state of the art.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 8 years ago
As for Nintendo, they'll be fine, even if the Wii U doesn't do particularly well.
Do they make money with the WiiU (as a platform) ?
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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University8 years ago
I don't think any retrospective I've seen really addresses both the failure of Wii and Wii U. Nintendo went from a radical, forward thinking and inventive platform holder to an incredibly conservative one within the lifespan of the Wii, and turned their back on the audience that made Wii so successful in order to pander to a vocal minority that had failed to buy their last two home consoles. That's the huge failure of Wii U. Nintendo have sacrificed simplicity and broad appeal for complexity, confusion and the hope of attracting the users of Xbox and PlayStation--a tactic they abandoned with Wii because of diminishing returns.

The industry is obviously a hugely changed place, but I hope we get the Nintendo of 2006 back in the near future. Iwata put the company back in its shell when he should have continued to pursue the vision of Wii and DS.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 8 years ago
To end the PC is pricey discussion:

For 500 (the price of a Xbox One), you shall get:

Intel Core i5-4570 (Should easily outperform PS4 and XBO)
8GB Ram DDR3 (Same amount as consoles)
Radeon 7850 (Same as PS4)
DVD Drive (it's the PC after all)
Basic Mouse & Keyboard, 360 Controller.

Once SteamOS comes around, you will still need Windows realistically, that's another 50 or more depending on the version you get. Sure, PCs used to be far more expensive than consoles, but going forward, the difference in price is not that much. And yes, this PC will work perfectly fine with any flatscreen TV
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago

My complete rebuilds typically run in the $600 range. But then I drop another $2-300 over the 5-6 year lifespan. New GPU, RAM upgrade, power supply dies, that sort of thing

Why don't you have your consoles repaired? $100-150. My 360 repair was free. I don't own a Wii, and I don't know anyone whose Wiis failed on them because with a few exceptions (Nintendo fans) they've been gathering dust since the last Zelda game.

Nintendo has a lot of money, but they won't much longer because of how ill equipped they are for the new market reality. This generation is not about the graphics, it's about everything else. That's why MS is pushing TV so hard. It's about what your machine can do that others can't. And that can't list is very very long for Nintendo, and they're completely ill equipped to change that. By the time they launch Wii3, it's still going to be too late, they're going to be selling a 2013 experience in 2017.

As I've said before, they need to merge with Apple, and concentrate on a kid proof ipad mini. It plays to their strengths, fills a hole that now can be filled since Jobs is dead, and ensures long term brand viability, because sooner rather than later. And that may be 20 more years, a new Pokemon, or the fifteenth Smash game that's a roster/graphics upgrade won't be enough. Iwatas comments show they've learned nothing. It's not that the marketing is bad, which it is, it's that the kid wants an iPad, and their biggest selling point is "Nintendo products are are harder to, and cheaper to replace when they break them"

The console business is too expensive to survive on four games a year, And there's only so long it's worthwhile to send good moony after bad, no matter how big the nest egg is. We've been seeing this slow tailspin for the last fifteen years, and WiiU was dumped by most in under six months. The Wii3 will probably literally require Nintendo to finance the ports upfront for launch, and any exclusives they want., outside of the usual Sonic (oops, paying for that now), Lego and Just Dance games.

I was a Sega fan. My first dollar earned was a Master System. The Dreamcast was an amazing system that literally innovated the things that would define the next decade of gaming. But I stopped being a fanboy for them around the time SegaCD bombed, and I saw the death spiral beginning in earnest. Sega innovated, but lacked the savvy outside the engineering bay to back it up. Nintendo has a solid base that will buy whatever they make, but the time is fast approaching where that isn't going to be enough to allow them to continue releasing last generation hardware Microsoft, and to a lesser degree Sony have spent the last decade putting the pieces in place for these consoles and the support structure around them. Nintendos narrow focus and blindness, like Segas overreach is their undoing they're just going to take a lot longer to die.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago
Wii software attach rates include packin games, even stuff like WiiPlay. (Sports and Olay alone account for something like 175 million alone). Their actual units moved is about a third lower at best. And no, the Wiis in their closets in my anecdote, and the dust bunnies are very real.

The problem is that people in the game industry don't understand the other side of it. It's just like when Microsoft had the entire PC industry howling over the impending victory of HD DVD right up to the bitter end. There is so much money to be made in the non-gaming stuff these boxes can do. Look at PayPal Look at Ebay as examples of just a small part of what's available to make money from. , when you rent a movie on Vudu app, Microsoft takes a piece. When you order dinner via the Puzza Hut app, Microsoft takes a piece. When your cable company gives you an X1 instead of a gift card for signing up for two years, who benefits? Valve is a multimillion dollar company by sucking fees out of virtually very PC game sold. They refuse to invest in infrastructure, the kind Microsoft has been building for over a decade, and Sony finally gave up and bought into. But unlike Sony, they have nothing to build on, and if they thought making HD games was hard, they ain't seen nothing yet.

Nintendos business model is stuck in the 90s, and their entire corporate structure and hierarchy is ill equipped to grow the installed base to such a point in the next decade where the synergy with the outside becomes such that they can compete in the world of the home hub experience. And their continued reliance on "what's best for Japan" as a starting point, a country increasingly living in a seperate technological world from the rest of us, is but a single leg of the spider of their downfall. That's why they won't fail tomorrow, but without merging with Apple, You'll be playing Mario on PS7. A Mario game that's virtually identical to the ones you play today if the pattern of the last decade holds. And judging by the comments, I'm not the only one seeing it.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 8 years ago
Gaming is a series of cultural phenomena, consumer expectations and technical realities. While Nintendo excels at some, it chooses to utterly ignore others. No amount of complaining is ever going to change that, they are who they are and they appear to be fine with it.

There will always be people chasing the tablet market, chasing the f2p, chasing social online gaming, chasing the elusive esport, chasing the AAA blockbuster game, chasing the Indie scene, chasing whatever is a trend in 2014. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter this year, Frankenstein Vampire Slayer the next.

You can accuse Nintendo of a lot of blunders, but it is not their job to make a console for EA and Ubisoft to earn money on. Why don't third parties release a console and try to get Nintendo on their ship? If you actually do have the scary answer to that question, it should answer a lot of others. Neither is it Nintendo's job to try and out-Facebook Facebook, nor to out-sony Microsoft. Nintendo also does not stick to 10 year visions of their platforms, if need be, they replace after five years taking aggressive risks.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Klaus Preisinger on 24th October 2013 10:56pm

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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago
Every PS3 and 360 was not sold with a bundle. I would discount Kinect Adventures for example though. You're also overlooking digital sales. Xbox for example makes a huge amount of its profit on Live sales, not only subscriptions but games.

Yes, I know there's already a PayPal. But if that were the case, then Amazon would not have just started their own clone of it. If you force people using your system to use your payment system, which can alos integrate with exterior ones for the purposes of "loading", you can still skim every transaction.

And this is exactly what I mean about the games community not understanding the exterior. Do you know what the single biggest expense the cable company has outside of programming? Cable boxes. They spend half a billion dollars a year on them. Supporting them, developing new ones, fixing broken ones. They cost them about $300 EACH to make and buy, and that's before all the ancilliary costs over a lifetime. Inside 3 years, the X1, and probably a year or two later the Ps4 will be able to function as your cable box, even as a "motherbox" like in the new xfinity system. So yes, it's very much worth their time and money to give you an Xbox instead of a gift card, and worth Microsoft or Sony's while to provide units at cost to them. I think we can reasonably assume that Sony and Microsoft's costs, since Sony is losing and MS is in profit are around $450 a deck. The cable companies want to push everything to apps ASAP and get out of the hardware business. That's why Google sold off Motorola's cable box division for peanuts, even though they had their own cable aspirations. THis is what I mean by the "home hub experience". Not marketing speak. It's what is here right now. Your cable box routs your phone, your TV, your internet, everything your do in the house. And there's a whole ton of new services that are just starting to be offered like home automation and security (Xbox , snap front door camera!). How many people use their PS3 as their exclusive playback device for media? A lot. The innfrastructure wasn't even close to being there for Pippin, and CDI and 3DO could only play back VCD, which didn't commerciall exist in North America beyond a few token releases. The cost of supporting your cable boxes, yes despite the stupid fees, is at least a short term break-even proposition, and a long-term profitable one. Why do you think they were so eager to get in bed with Microsoft in the first place? Look for the HDMI-in to be one of the first things to go on the X1 Slim, assuming all this plays out as it's looking to (though I expect there might be a dongle to replace it to retain compatiblity with non-IP based cable systems).

Gabe Newell is a billionare or close to it. I think we can reasonably judge from that. We alo know that virtually no PC game gets sold that isn't from EA or Ubi that their sticky fingers aren't in.Another good example are iTunes digital copies. Every time you .activate one, Apple gets paid last I heard about $0.60. Total cost of them letting you download the movie? About $0.03.

Nintendo makes for Nintendo hardware IS marketing talk. Nintendo will do just fine on whatever hardware they're on. I'm not judging reality by the internet, and instead by pretty standard sources like "what kids want for Christmas" polls by major services, and surveys and panels I myself have conducted. If you hand the kid a 3DS and an iPad and ask which one they want to keep. They go for the iPad. If you ask the parents why they don't buy the kid an ipad it falls into "he'll break it" or "too expensive" the vast majority of the imte. As I said, Nintendo is fine today/ Twenty years from now, they're in a lot of trouble, and they show no sign of leaving that path

@Klaus. I'd say Nintendo is chasing as well. Check out the 2DS. I expect this is a test on the new form facto their next handheld will take, as they try to make a tablet themselves.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago
I specifically said bundled titles like Kinect Adventures shouldn't count. And you're also only looking at Surface RT, and not Surface Pros, which are actually doing quite well. Surface is a bomb with consumers, and they should have been selling it to enterprise from the get-go, which they are now doing and targeting.

Your $8 billion figure comes from a disgruntled Sony employeee. While I agree that they didn't make a lot, check this out

Sony's losses probably add up something like the common myth that Superman Returns lost money. It didn't until a bunch of studio accountants dumped almost $100 million of 20 years of failed Superman projects onto its shoulders.Just like the myth that Man of Steel made money on its theatrical run (it didn't, the movie by all accounts went significantly over budget and the marketing spend was huge. By the time you take out all the distro fees, the 3D conversion and such it was basically a break-even) Sony's losses likely include hundreds of millions of dollars in the CELL processor foundry and buying out Toshiba on it to the tune of close to $700 million at the time.A billion dollars of hardware R&D, and a billion loss on the hack attack, and you're close to the 4+billion they claim sony has spent on PS3. Likewise, the billionish that MS had on RROD, and both consoles would be comfortably in profit.

I don't know if you live in the US, but let's get some things clear as far as cable boxes here go

You cannot buy a cable box that will work. The cable company will not sell you one. Those that you find on ebay and such are either stolen, or found after the $3-500 fee (depending on whether your box is vanilla or DVR) is paid to the cable company. Some companies like Comcast even regionalize their boxes, so one from California will not work in New York. The best scenario these will give you is extremely basic service on the analog tier (clear QAM, similar to the cable boxes built into TVs. If you get a device compatible with cableCARD like TiVO, you still lose out on the guide, VOD, DVR and other functions, and have to bring your own (which TiVO provides, for guide and DVR, but no VOD, PPV, or other extended high security services). If you don't believe me, call your cable company, or just google "buy my own cable box". You CAN purchase your own cableCARD and have it activated, at least on Verizon, but are again locked out of the real goodies. The reason why those boxes are so cheap on ebay is because they're paperweights.

Samsung disagrees with you by the way, they just introduced a media box with a built-in cable CARD interface and standard smartTV capabilities. YES the cable companies want to make it all apps instead of physcial boxes, but that's where the X1 comes in. SmarTV is a limited, system on a chip design for maximum efficiency. An Xbox 1 or PS4 is an endlessly updateable and programmable beast of a machine that you're not going to have to replace every time you have a new service, and with enough horses to run whatever you want fast as you please. With Blu-ray players, cable boxes, and other solid state stuff you cannot go very far off the feature beaten path without needed a whole new device.

WiiSports- Wiimote is bluetooth and can connect easily to any phone or tablet
WiiFit, is bluetooth and can connect easily to any phone or tablet
Nintendogs can work on any touchscreen device
Brain Train: Ditto.

I tried the games you suggested on the WiiU as well. There was nothing in there that couldn't be easily ported to another device and/or wasn't gimmicky. Hell the Batman AR thing was more groovy than any of those in terms of offering something the other versions couldn't (but could with an App). If Nintendo and apple were to merge, wouldn't it be "their" hardware too?
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