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How the Wii is creaming the competition

Business 2.0 Magazine tells the inside story of how Nintendo outfoxed Sony and Microsoft and got itself back in the game.

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- A year ago it looked like game over for Nintendo's storied console business. The Kyoto-based gamemaker--whose Nintendo Entertainment System ushered in the modern age of videogames--was bleeding market share to newer, more powerful systems from Sony and Microsoft.

Even as the videogame business grew into a $30 billion global industry, Nintendo saw its U.S. hardware sales shrink to almost half of what they had been nearly 20 years earlier.

Today, as anybody within shouting distance of a teenager knows, Nintendo is the comeback kid of the gaming world. Instead of joining Sony (Charts) and Microsoft (Charts, Fortune 500) in the arms race to pack their consoles with ever-higher-performance graphics chips (to better attract sophisticated gamers), Nintendo built the Wii--a cuddly, low-priced, motion-controlled machine that broke the market wide open by appealing to everyone from grade-schoolers to grandmas.

Unorthodox? Maybe. Effective? You bet.

The Wii is a pop culture smash of such dimensions that Nintendo still can't make consoles fast enough. Even so, it's outselling Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360--at least since January. (The Xbox had blowout pre-Christmas sales.) And while its competitors lose money on every console they build, expecting to make it back selling high-margin games, the Wii was designed to sell for a profit from the get-go.

By John Gaudiosi, Business 2.0 Magazine

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