Nintendo hinting at more hardcore future with new budget range and Wii bundles? Speculation time!

File this one under wishful fanboy speculation if you want, but there’s something potentially rather interesting about this story. Retail reports have it – in the absence of official word from Nintendo – that the big N is finally readying a budget range of Wii games, much like its traditional Player’s Choice line-ups on consoles of old. The same story talks of a cheaper Wii bundle with a new game packaged in.

Now I could be sitting at the bottom of the barrel trying to scrape my way out here, while simultaneously clutching at straws as a lifeline, but within the context of some of those recent Wii 2 rumours, the line-up in question makes me wonder if Nintendo is sowing seeds for a return to the hardcore.

Yeah, I’m referencing tenuous rumours against tenuous rumours. Go with me on this one.

$19:99 versions of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Wii Sportsand Super Mario Sluggers,as well asa new, cheaper, $149bundle pack containing not Wii Sports, but Mario Kart. Not a huge range to kick off the rumoured new Wii Select label (opens in new tab), but anIntriguing one given thatmost are hardcore Nintendo big-hitters of one respect or another. Interesting that the likes of the uber-selling Wii Play aren’t here, nor indeed any of the massive-grossing third-party casual stuff. Nintendo isn’t, you might remember, shy of including successful out-of-house games in its budget ranges.

So why the core focus? Could it be that Nintendo is trying a slight image shift, putting the emphasis on its hardcore properties in the run-up to the announcement of its new machine at E3? Certain rumour-talk of said Wii successor mentions a full-powered HD machine with more of a core gamer emphasis. All of this would certainly make sense in light of Nintendo’s E3 press conference last year, during which it completely ignored the casual market in favour of dropping hardcore Donkey Kong,Zeldaand 3DS bombs.

I speculated at the time that Nintendomight havespotted the bottom dropping out of the casual market just as Microsoft and Sony had jumped in to potentially over-saturate it with Kinect and Move, and decided to stay one step ahead by shifting back towards its traditional audience. Could this be a part of that quietly clever long-game, albeit a small and very subtle one? Or have I gone mad trying to squeeze significance out of a rumour on a slow news day? And is the lack of third-party casual fare just a result of external publishers having a hard enough time making money on the first-party-driven Wii as it is? As ever, your appraisal of this situation is appreciated.

May 3rd, 2011

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