OW-WII: In the weeks since their U.S. launches, the buzz over Sony's virtually unattainable PlayStation 3 has given way to enthusiasm for Nintendo's slightly less elusive Wii. Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert used his Wii to stage a boxing match between himself and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while VH1's pop-culture pundits said last Friday that Wii was having the "Best Week Ever." Meanwhile, the Internet has been flooded with pictures of people who injured themselves or broke furniture while flinging the Wii's motion-sensing remote control. And The Wall Street Journal reported on a new ailment "Wii elbow" that has afflicted some previously sedentary gamers. One girl told the Journal that her right arm started feeling numb after she played the bowling and boxing games included in "Wii Sports"; others said the games have led to stiff shoulders and aching backs. Nintendo spokeswoman Perrin Kaplan said Wii "was not meant to be a Jenny Craig supplement. If people are finding themselves sore, they may need to exercise more."
NUMBERS GAME: So, how many Wiis and PS3s are out there anyway? Sony has been curiously quiet about the number of PS3s sold since its Nov. 17 U.S. launch, and analysts have speculated that the company fell far short of its goal of having 400,000 units available. Nintendo, meanwhile, said it sold more than 600,000 Wiis in the eight days following the console's Nov. 19 debut. "We've shipped retailers several times the amount of hardware the other company was able to deliver for its launch around the same time, and we still sold out," Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime gloated. And how many of the new machines ended up on eBay? The online auction site said more than 14,000 PS3s had been resold there through Nov. 24, at an average price of $1,186.39; more than 26,708 Wiis moved, at an average price of $412.53. By the way, the Wii finally landed in Japan last weekend and was greeted, predictably, by long lines and widespread shortages.
CAREER OPPORTUNITIES: Sony's problems getting the PS3 off the ground appear to have led to a shakeup in the company's video-game division. Ken Kutaragi, known as the "father of the PlayStation," was relieved last week of day-to-day responsibilities as the unit's president, although he remains as chief executive and chairman; Kazuo Hirai, the head of Sony's U.S. video game operations, will replace Kutaragi as Sony Computer Entertainment president. The AP's Yuri Kageyama points out that in Japan, a promotion to chairman is often a disguise for retirement or demotion, but the charismatic Kutagari is likely to retain some influence over the PlayStation's future. Sony Chief Executive Officer Howard Stringer called the PS3 "the most important product in the Sony Group" and said the management overhaul will "accelerate the expansion of our game business."
ALL IN THE FAMILY: The National Institute on Media and the Family has released its annual video-game report card just in time for holiday shopping. As usual, the watchdog group listed 10 games parents shouldn't buy for their kids, and the list isn't particularly radical; all the games are rated M (for "mature"), and everyone agrees that children shouldn't play M-rated games. In fact, some of these games ("Just Cause," "Reservoir Dogs," "The Sopranos") are so bad that nobody should play them. What is a little surprising is that the institute missed the chance to take a shot at "Bully," which has been the source of a lot of fuss this year but hit the market with a T (for "teen") rating. ("Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories," from "Bully" developer Rockstar Games, did make the list.) And we can't argue with the institute's "recommended" list, which includes such gems as "Lego Star Wars II," "Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2" and "Brain Age." Any list that encourages people to buy "LocoRoco" over "Scarface: The World Is Yours" can't be all bad.