While Wii sales (and reasons to play the Wii) have slowed to a trickle this year, this system still somehow manages to sell a respectable number of units each month, and is still the market leader by a wide margin. Nintendo is hoping to boost slowing Wii sales with some new bundles this holiday season, including bundles that package the system with copies of Mario Kart or New Super Mario Bros. Wii (protip: trade in that copy of NSMB for either Mario Galaxy, if you don’t have them already). But while Nintendo wants to get the word out about the value of these new bundles, they left out one important tidbit: these new Wii’s are missing Gamecube backwards compatibility.
With the already traditionally sporadic Wii releases slowing to even more of a trickle, and Nintendo’s continuing hesitance to release critically acclaimed “real” games like The Last Story and Xenoblade in the U.S., Nintendo isn’t doing much to fight against the stereotype that the Wii “has no games,” and by cutting Gamecube support, they’re removing any new Wii owner’s ability to go back and play older games to compensate for the lack of any worthwhile new ones.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Nintendo. If my parents didn’t buy me an NES back when I was in kindergarten I probably never would’ve grown up to be the nerd I am today, and with games like Super Mario Galaxy and the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (which is receiving rave reviews from the mainstream press, by the way,) I still wholeheartedly believe that as a game developer, Nintendo is still at the top of their game. But questionable business decisions like the removal of Gamecube support, the uncharacteristic addition of region-locking on the 3DS, and Nintendo of America’s refusal to give gamers the games they want, it’s hard not to feel disenfranchised with the company that I grew up with.
I own every Nintendo system (yes, even Virtual Boy,) but I’m seriously considering trading in my Wii after I finish Skyward Sword, simply because there’s seemingly no reason to hold onto it going forward into the next year. With the Wii U only backwards compatible with original Wii games, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gamecube titles show up on the Virtual Console service on Nintendo’s upcoming system in lieu of hardware based backwards compatibility. Sure, I’m sure casual audiences won’t mind that their new Wii can’t play 5-10 year old games, and as someone who still owns a working Gamecube and a launch (backwards compatible) Wii, the loss doesn’t personally affect me, but the removal of Gamecube compatibility from the Wii is another sad example of Nintendo’s recent habit of not giving their fans what they want.