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Wildly Exaggerated: Wii're Not Gonna Take It.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wii're Not Gonna Take It.

Fun fact about me: I like to ask for awesome things for my birthday, receive them, then tell myself I'm not allowed to open them until I do some God-forsaken chore. As a result, I don't start raving about birthday gifts til months after the fact.  Personal record: the Neato XV-11 I received in early January and finally unboxed IN JULY. (The chore was cleaning my room. I still hadn't done it, but more than 7 months just seemed ridiculous.) (Also: the Neato XV-11 is highly recommended.) Anyway! This year I asked for a Wii! And I got it! In January!

Naturally, I did not open the box until 2 days ago (when I finally got rid of the chest of drawers which had substituted for an entertainment center for the past five years).

The Wii is part of my Master Plan for Living Room Domination, which is exactly what it sounds like: my personal mission to reclaim my living room from all the crap and junk mail that buries me over and over again. Sometimes I look back at the pictures I took of this place while I was still trying to decide whether to make an offer, and I sigh wistfully at all the space, the shiny floors, the unobstructed windows... It is my dream that someday I might show those pictures to someone else, tell them "that's my condo", and have them actually believe me. So in anticipation of opening the Wii, I culled my electronics collection. I donated my DVD player and my VHS player (yes I still had one, though I hadn't touched it in 10 years), and gifted my Xbox 360 to my brother. My reasoning was as follows:
1. There is not a single Xbox game I have any interest in playing. I was just using the Xbox for Netflix, Hulu+ and DVDs. But...
2. I don't need the Xbox for DVDs, because I have a PS2. And obviously I won't be getting rid of the PS2. I lived 19 long, boring, tedious, joy-deprived years without Crash Bandicoot. I don't intend to lose him again now.
3. The Wii could do Netflix and Hulu+ and do it wirelessly ("Xbox 360: because everybody loves having ethernet cords running all over the damn place"), and there are quite a few Wii games I quite like. And it can play some old Nintendo games from my childhood! And the menu screens play soothing elevator music, which I also quite like! And if - God forbid - my PS2 should someday go on to a better place, the Wii could be THE home base for internet-based TV, games, and DVDs!


The Wii doesn't play DVDs. I'm sure I'm the last person on the face of the Earth to learn this, but give me a break - it was hard to justify buying one when I still had an Xbox and a PS2, so I'm just now getting around to it. When my beloved Flight of the Conchords Season 1 Disc 1 failed to play after the 3rd try, I sat down at my laptop and, chiding myself for asking such a stupid question, typed "Does Wii play DVDs?" Imagine my astonishment! My consternation! My disappointment! My RAGE! ...when I learned that no, it does not. I did some additional looking around and came across a number of articles claiming that the Nintendo corporation essentially felt that a DVD drive on the Wii would be overkill because "there are already so many other components that play DVDs", citing not only other game consoles and dedicated media players, but laptops, desktops, and...oh wait those are all the things that play DVDs. This is the Dumbest Corporate Decision since Suntory handed Kim Kardashian a Midori bottle and took her picture* (YES I AM STILL MAD ABOUT THAT), and I will give you both reasons why:
1. "We aren't gonna do this because other people already did it" is just bad business. That's like Pepsi saying "Nah, let's not introduce a crappier version of every single product Coca-Cola makes." It's unheard of! And I bet people will read this and say, "Um, I believe it's COKE that copies PEPSI, stupid Atlantan Coke freak." And I will say to them, "Oh GO DRINK SOME PEPSI TOILET WATER!" And they will threateningly brandish a Mountain Dew pop top at me and yell, "DON'T MAKE ME CUT YOU!" And I'll grab a frozen Coke and be all, "You try it and I'll give you a brain freeze you'll NEVER forget!" And then they'll be like, "Did you even see Pepsi's Superbowl commercial? Do you have any idea who you're dealing with?" And then Elton John and Flavor Flav will come running up, and the three of them will start coming at me like a West Side Story dance sequence to kick my ass, but then I'll snap my fingers and a bunch of bloodthirsty polar bears will rush them and when all the screaming dies down, the polar bears and I will sit down with a Coke and they'll put their paws on my shoulder and we'll watch the Northern Lights, BITCH!

What was I talking about? Oh right: the Wii. My point is that businesses are supposed to try for customer loyalty and a cornered market. The [theoretical] ideal Wii consumer is a person who says, "I'm buying a Wii, and I'm not buying any other console or media player, because the Wii can do everything I need!" Then you've got the revenue from the initial purchase and you have that customer cornered for any number of services you can dream up to roll out in the future! Instead, they said, "We won't make our product do all the things it could do, because people can buy someone else's product for that." Thanks man! That's a great idea! I'll just get an Xb...OH WAIT I NO LONGER HAVE ANY USE FOR THE WII WHATSOEVER. Business FAIL.

I guess my other point, to a lesser extent, was that we're supposed to have multiple products that do similar things. The fact that you can say "Mello Yello is Coke's version of Mountain Dew" or "Sierra Mist is Pepsi's version of Sprite" or "Aquafina is Coke's version of Dasani and by the way THEY ARE BOTH 'WATER'" is not "proof of a redundancy in the market". Rather, it is the purest form of American capitalism, tapping into our cultural DNA's tendency toward irrational "My Team is Better Than Your Team and...What Did You Say I WILL KICK YOUR ASS!" behavior and using it to screw all of us out of our money. Just like politics!

2. The Nintendo people are absolutely right - we have a lot of products in our homes that play DVDs. Until 2 days ago, I had a DVD player, an Xbox, a PS2, and 2 laptops, and all of those things could play DVDs. I guess that's probably why my mindset, here in 2012, is: if I see something that has a DVD-sized slot on it and can be connected to a screen, I assume it can play DVDs. Or at least, I used to make that assumption. But the Wii people took a world where one could reasonably say "Everything already plays DVDs!" and used that logic to create a world where we say instead: "Everything plays DVDs...except the Wii." Way to go, guys! Way. To. Go.

*Seriously, are crappy decisions the new "in" thing for Japanese executives?

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