Nintendo DS Success: What Does it Mean to You and Wii?
When it first launched a few years ago, the Nintendo DS was hardly a hot item. Early titles for the handheld were limited to games that desperately tried to take advantage of the "dual screen" technology from which the system inherited its name. The DS' first year was so brutal that I regretted referring it to a relatively broke friend of mine, who found himself limited to Gameboy Advance titles.
That's all changed. Although the initial DS was a bulky behemoth of silver, Nintendo has successfully re-released the handheld in a smaller, lighter rendition that more closely resembles the dynamics of its popular Wii console. Recent games like Mario Kart DS, New Super Mario Bros., and others have revitalized the system as well, with Nintendo developing first party hits (what else is new?) that have trumped a lazily-supported competing handheld from Sony.
The result? Research and marketing analysts are now predicting that the DS could eventually surpass the PlayStation 2 in becoming the top-selling console of all time. With estimated sales of the portable market in the range of $10 billion for this year alone, Sony's ubiquitous home console is hardly safe from Mario's mini medium.
The meaning? Although the DS' success speaks volumes about Nintendo's marketing of an otherwise dated technology, it also gives hope to the Wii. While the DS clearly struggled in its first months after release, the dual screen has become a feature rather than a gimmick. The handheld is also evidence that a system boasting far less graphical muscle than the competition can not only survive, but succeed.
It's certainly difficult to classify the Wii's opening period as anything but a success, but considering the far tougher competition in the home console world, it will need the kind of support the DS enjoys. As Nintendo struggles to establish a Wii online multiplayer community with the same features claimed by its handheld, there's hope that flashy marketing and a unique approach to gaming can triumph, once again.