It’s official: the Nintendo Wii is no longer being sold to retailers in Japan. The end is nigh for the little white box that could.

Of course, this isn’t the first console in history to be discontinued. In fact it goes without saying that every video game console ever made has been — or will be — discontinued at some point. But Nintendo is Nintendo and as the worlds’ media stands by awaiting their seemingly inevitable end, have you ever wondered if news of discontinued consoles is being reported fairly?

I have, and considering the world has waved goodbye to two huge consoles this year — Wii and PlayStation 2 — I thought it would be interesting to put the reports to the test.

PlayStation 2 is probably the worlds’ most enduring home console, enjoying a 13 year stint in retail stores before it was put to bed in January 2013. We can now compare directly how the media reported the news of the PlayStation 2’s discontinuation with Wii’s. Both systems have sold over 100 million units since their release. PlayStation 2’s seven year advantage has graced it with 50 million extra unit sales. In fact, if you divide the console sales by how many years they’ve been available for, Wii has outsold PlayStation 2, one could argue.

Surely, the reporting of the discontinuation is as even handed as the consoles’ marketplace performance, right?

That’ll do, Pig.

The first report that shows up in Google is Joystiq’s account of the PlayStation 2 discontinuation, reported on January 7 2013. Here’s what they said about PlayStation 2:

Sony boasts total software sales for the console of over 1.5 billion, in addition to more than 150 million PS2s sold. Rivals Nintendo and Sega barely shifted more than 30 million units of the GameCube and Dreamcast put together. It’s unlikely we’ll see a console dominate its generation so resoundingly ever again. Out of respect for the countless hours of gaming goodness it provided us, we at Joystiq are tearfully doffing our hats in memory of that little black box. That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.

Ah, the smell of unbiased journalism. Oh wait, they’re actually crying about it. Perhaps they sent off Wii with the same “doffing” of their hats?

There’s still no indication that supply lines in North America or Europe have been altered, but we’ve reached out to Nintendo to find out precisely what the dealio, yo.

In any event, this means that there are now a finite number of Japanese Wii units in existence. We anticipate that the remaining new Wii units will undoubtedly be pitted against each other in a ruthless battle to the death – or a lot more people will be buying used Wiis, whatever.

As you can see, this particular publication shows indifference and probably understandably so. After their emotional farewell to PlayStation 2, it was probably inevitable that a second consoles’ end wouldn’t spark the same grief.

Wii console

We recommend you buy… PlayStation 2

Engadget is next and they committed a cardinal sin in the world of jounalism: they recommended you run out and buy a PlayStation 2.

It’s a sad thought, but let’s remember the good times — the PS2’s various iterations have been entertaining gamers for 12 years, and with over 150 million units purchased worldwide it’s become the best selling console in history. We’re not sure if the PS2 is still shipping to other regions, but its retirement in Japan is probably the beginning of the end globally, so we’d recommend you pick one up now if you intend to explore that extensive back catalogue one day. The PS2 era may be drawing to a close, but its legacy will live on and it can now rub controllers with the other greats in console heaven — we still miss you, Dreamcast.

A decidedly less emotional Engadget reported the Wii’s discontinuation with less fanfare, suggesting that people go out and — heaven forbid — buy a Wii U if they can be bothered.

That was quick. Just a few weeks after it became clear that Nintendo would stop manufacturing the Wii for Japan, the company has quietly listed the console as “discontinued” (upper right) on its Japanese website. From now on, local gamers wanting a Wii fix will either have to pick up the backwards-compatible Wii U or hunt for leftover stock at retailers. It’s not quite the end of an era when both the regular Wii and Wii Mini remain available in other countries; with that said, we wouldn’t count on the last-generation system hanging around for much longer.

Thankfully there was somewhat less gushing and more information when it came to Wii but surely if you’re going to come out and tell people to buy PlayStation 2 while they can, a similar recommendation from the publication for Wii should be in order, no?

Real Gamers

The Escapist Magazine took an escape from level headed reporting when it gushed over the PlayStation 2, a practise that is showing a trend.

Sadly, the beloved console’s age is finally catching up to it…

It’s difficult to understate the importance of the PlayStation 2 in its prime. Not only did Sony secure several important early exclusives (including Grant Theft Auto III and Metal Gear Solid 2), the system came with backwards compatibility for PS1 titles, ensuring it had a massive catalog available at release. Perhaps more importantly, the PS2 launched with full DVD playback support, making it a tempting option for non-gamers seeking to make the switch from VHS players. All told, the PS2 sold over 150 million units and encompasses a library of over 2000 games.

While the PS2 is still being produced for the rest of the world, that’s unlikely to continue for much longer. The console still sells millions of units annually, but those figures are steadily dropping, especially with a new console generation on the horizon. On the bright side, the system isn’t terribly priced these days, so anyone wanting a unit still has time to get one before they disappear for good. At that point, I imagine millions of players around the world will have a brief moment of silence for the many games that have come and gone.

PlayStation 2 is beloved, apparently. It must be — 150 million units over 13 years doesn’t come lightly. But Wii has hit 100 million in just 7 years, surely it’s still loved?

Just a few weeks after Nintendo announced that production of the Wii would “end soon,” the axe has fallen – and the end has come not with a bang or even a whimper, but just a tiny little notice in the upper right corner of the Wii website.

The Wii had a good run, and although it may have never earned the respect of “real” gamers, it sold more than 100 million units after launching in 2006 and at one time struck fear into the hearts of both Sony and Microsoft. Give that its successor, the Wii U, hasn’t managed to even approach that level of success and, with all due respect, probably never will, it really is the end of an era.

Ah, so not only did Wii fail to become a real console, Nintendo will never produce anything that will match its success. Sorry, Nintendo 3DS, you don’t count apparently.

With all due respect, that is just a ridiculous thing to write especially when you consider the PlayStation 3 has only hit about 78 million worldwide sales.

PlayStation 2 console

What we can see here is that, in general, the PlayStation 2 is getting much better treatment in the media than the Wii. With Sony’s console, the media has painted the discontinuation as an emotional turning point for the gaming society. With Nintendo’s, the notion of taking Wii off shelves is something to be scoffed at: a largely irrelevant that no one is going to care about.

The truth, of course, is that in both cases we all still have our PlayStation 2 or Wii somewhere in our homes and in our lives. Some store their old consoles in the closet, others keep them powered up and operating for years on end while others still take to eBay at opportune moments to cash in on their horde.

Whatever the case, console discontinuations aren’t new and the only sad thing about the process is how the media use it to spur on a baffling narrative that somehow Nintendo is ultimately doomed or that despite it being the only company on the planet that exclusively focuses on video game hardware and software, it’s an irrelevant joke of a publisher that has no idea what it’s doing.

While it will ultimately be an unpopular move to highlight the few of many publications that clearly display this behaviour, I do think it’s important that the industry identifies where all the negativity comes from and why it’s coming from those places and most scarily, how subtle is it. Crying about one console while slamming another is immature for these huge media corporations and should not be condoned. After all, we turn to these publications for news about the entire industry not to be sold a product. These are news outlets, not shopping malls.

It’s probably fair to point out that the three examples listed above were chosen because they were the easiest to find: all examples had both a story about PlayStation 2 and Wii. Some of the others, such as IGN, had one but not the other. It’s also clear that Wii’s discontinuation has much more media coverage than PlayStation 2 did, and most of it is negative in the sense that most of the reports doubt Nintendo’s ability to follow up Wii’s success in the future, or point out Wii U’s sales shortcomings.

None of any of the PlayStation 2 coverage I found had anything negative to say about Sony or the console itself.

How do you feel about the way video game news is presented in the larger sense? Is there room for improvement, or is there merit to subtle bias?

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Ty is the founder, Editor-in-Chief and nice guy of The first console Ty owned as a kid was the Sega Master System II which he used to enjoy games like Alex Kidd, Sonic the Hedgehog and Mickey Mouse. Since the early days, Ty's hobby became an obsession and over the years he has amassed a huge collection of video games from all manufacturers.

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