That was the beauty of Wii Sports‘ motion controls. The decision to make Wii Sports the rare sports game that required almost no button inputs might very well have been the secret of its success (and the Wii in general).

From the moment of the Nintendo Wii’s conception, Shigeru Miyamoto wanted Wii Sports to serve as the console’s “flagship title.” The game was intended to be approachable by anyone regardless of their prior video game experience. That bold design decision came to life in the form of controls that naturally simulated the act of holding golf clubs, baseball bats, and tennis rackets. Essentially, anyone who played live sports or even saw them on TV would feel at home with Wii Sports’ control scheme, which lowered the barrier of entry.

In fact, while Nintendo’s rival consoles at the time, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, targeted hardcore gamers, the Wii cast as wide a net as possible and attracted a demographic otherwise ignored by the gaming industry: seniors. Wii Sports was an easy sell for them since it was quick to pick up and learn, especially if the elderly gamer didn’t have the finger dexterity for a DualShock 3. That wasn’t all the game could do for the elderly or even people with disabilities. Studies have demonstrated that titles such as Wii Fit and Wii Sports had potential as a rehabilitation tool, and some senior wellness blogs espoused the advantages of using Wii Sports to keep senior citizens in shape.

On their own, those studies may have only been so appealing, but when they were based on a game that could be played (and genuinely enjoyed) by grandparents, grandkids, and everyone in-between, they contributed to the growing cultural idea that the Wii (specifically, Wii Sports) was something you had to have in your household to keep up with the Joneses. Actually, that widespread sense of FOMO may have ended up being one of the biggest contributing factors to the Wii’s success…

The Wii Was a “Party Machine” and Wii Sports Was the Centerpiece

Marketing can often spell the difference between success and failure for a video game (or any other piece of media). If a company gets the word out by spending thousands of dollars (often millions of dollars) on advertisements, more gamers will probably buy the product. Well, at least that’s the popular idea behind how marketing typically works. There are other times when simple word of mouth is even more effective than a full marketing blitz. That strategy helped P.T. become one of the biggest cult sensations in gaming history, and it helped Wii Sports reach a level of success no individual Nintendo game will likely ever top.

In 2008, GameSpot interviewed Nintendo’s then-president Satoru Iwata about the Nintendo DS and Wii. During the Q&A session, Iwata claimed that the secret behind the Wii’s popularity was, surprisingly enough, the American culture of house parties. In his own words, his American friends constantly told him that the Wii was “the ultimate party machine.” Apparently, Wii owners would invite friends and family over to their houses to play the Nintendo Wii, and they would often gravitate towards Wii Sports.  The resulting fun would convince houseguests to purchase their own Wiis, which also net them copies of Wii Sports. From there, the cycle would continue with new groups of friends. The popularity of the Wii fed into sales of Wii Sports and vice versa.

Source: Den of Geek

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