Wii Vs. PlayStation 2: Discontinuation and the Media Bias

Both great selling consoles, both well loved by the media?

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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  • ThePokeMaster

    Are you seriously comparing the Wii to the PS2?
    Just because the Wii sold 100 mil doesn’t necessarily mean it should be regarded at the same level as the PS2.

    Don’t get me wrong, the Wii IS a real console and had some really great games, but they were very few and far between. The PS2 has a much bigger legacy. It’s on another level.

    Also, Wii sales had dropped quite a bit. It would not have hypothetically outsold the PS2. PS2 was more new at the time of its existence, while the Wii relied mostly on the motion control novelty. A novelty that has worn off. I’ve had family members who never owned a gaming console by a Wii, play it for a year and then forget about it.
    Casuals can buy a lot of console units, but core gamers buy a lot more games. Hint: Those 100 mil units WERE NOT sold to 100 mil Nintendo fans and core gamers. I expected the latest entry of such a legendary IP like Legend of Zelda to sell a lot more than 3 and a half million copies with an install base as big as the Wii’s.

    The quote says that PROBABLY no other Nintendo home console will match the success of the Wii. And it is not a far-fetched statement at all. Nintendo, at its highest point, did not sell as much as the Wii. The second best selling Nintendo console is the original NES with over 60 mil units. All other Nintendo consoles gradually sold less and less.

    This article just sounds bitter to me and the author needs to get over it. I didn’t see any slamming by the media. Maybe the Wii didn’t do enough for most people to win a place in their hearts. Unless you just want them to fake to make you feel better.

    • http://aussie-gamer.com/ Tynan Muddle

      How can you say that it’s okay for the professional media to say “we are sad about PlayStation 2 going away” only to say 6 months later “Wii was not a real console anyway, so whatever”?

      These aren’t bloggers, they’re owned by AOL and other massive media companies. They have a duty to be unbiased or at the very least level headed and treat all news as equal.

      Truthfully, I would be just as shocked if they were “shedding tears” over Wii’s discontinuation — they are professional media, not fanboy forum bloggers.

      • ThePokeMaster

        Uh no, I’m not ok with that.

        How many publications actually said that the Wii “was not a real console”, literally?
        Because saying something like it may not have earned the respect of “real” gamers (in quotations) is a very different thing.

  • Kamille

    Wii was one of the worst consoles ever made. And for its time it was more like a highly contagious disease that people wanted just because it was the trend. Like smoking marijuana when you’re young.

    On the other side we have the PS2. This console is one of the best consoles ever made in the history of video games. It had the biggest and most varied library of games that anybody could have ever dreamed of. Persona 3 & Persona 4 were a couple of its last games, what console has ever received such quality games while on its deathbed? The PS3. It runs in the family. XD

    • http://www.facebook.com/donalyn.dovalebrown Donalyn Dovale-Brown

      Xenoblade, Last story- say hello..

    • Nintenjoe82

      All consoles get their best games at the end of their lives. The Wii will be remembered longer and better than PS2, like it or not. The Wii wasn’t as good a console for traditional games (and it represents masses of wasted potential) but it did more to change an industry than the PS2 ever did. Both consoles held the record for bad games in their respective generations but the Wii gets the stick for it because its success upset the Sony and MS fanboys that run the gaming press these days!

    • http://aussie-gamer.com/ Tynan Muddle

      People tend to forget that PS2 was riddled with crappy sport games and casual shovelware. The difference is that we didn’t have a word for “casual games” back in those days. There were simply “must have games” and “all the rest”.

      • Axe99

        Shovelware was still referred to in the PS2 era – it’s just that the PS2 had so many non-shovelware titles it was far easier to avoid. Shovelware is a function of install base.

  • AdamVj23

    Brilliant article, Tynan. The amount of animosity against Nintendo is nothing short of disturbing. Whether it’s a simple news post, sales round-up or even a review, the majority of so-called “impartial” sites seem to be rife with unjust negativity and a general bitterness towards Nintendo.

    As you so rightly stated, Nintendo is the only company on the planet that exclusively focuses on video game hardware and software. Yet, despite this, all we hear is the death knoll ringing for a publisher who was, arguably, solely responsible for reviving a dying industry. We should be celebrating Nintendo’s existence, not patronising them at every opportunity.

    Neither Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo are infallible, of course. But I honestly cannot understand why Nintendo is continually ridiculed by the mainstream media and gamers alike. I see it everyday: one subtle dig here, one overlooked achievement there.

    Nintendo, I for one hope you never change.

    • http://www.facebook.com/donalyn.dovalebrown Donalyn Dovale-Brown

      Exactly!

    • http://aussie-gamer.com/ Tynan Muddle

      You know, I would almost forgive the apparent “media agenda” if it were something new. But for as long as I can remember, Nintendo has been the media whipping boy.

      Maybe that should be my next article, but I remember the SNES days, the media were slamming Nintendo for “forcing parents to upgrade to a new console” and “no longer supporting the NES”. Nintendo were “doomed” because they stuck with cartridges for Nintendo 64.

      They were equally doomed because GameCube didn’t do online, and because Nintendo DS had too many screens, and because Wii wasn’t HD and now because Wii U doesn’t make you coffee or something (seriously, what’s the problem with Wii U again?).

      It’s bizarre. I thought it might have something to do with the fact that they are a Japanese company. Maybe American’s don’t identify well with Japanese companies… but that doesn’t really explain why Sony get away with blue murder…

      • AdamVj23

        Hear, hear. I alluded to the whole ‘Nintendo can’t do right for doing wrong’ view in this article, albeit with a strict focus on third-party publishers. I think you’ll enjoy it. – http://www.awesomegames.co.uk/do-third-party-publishers-hate-nintendo

        Honestly, the amount of flack the GamePad receives is completely unnecessary. All the positive elements of the controller tend to be rudely ignored. In fact, every game for the system thus far has been chastised for not “taking advantage of the GamePad” when most reviewers don’t even know what they want from it anyway.

        Recently, I saw widespread indifference to the recent system update which let you play Wii Games on the GamePad screen – a feature which I absolutely love. So many sites’ main focus was, “Oh, but you need to use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk – you can’t play it on the GamePad. What a waste of time!”

        It’s just another example of Nintendo going above and beyond for the consumer – gamers – only to be shot down. Seriously, what were they supposed to do? Reconfigure every Wii game just so you could play it on the GamePad? Sad thing is, we both know that even if they did, people would still find something to pick fault with.

        Basically, unless Nintendo’s next home console manages to solve world hunger, the Big N is doomed.

      • http://www.n-handhelds.com/ Michael Vincent

        The coverage hate for Nintendo is beyond astounding. I don’t know if that is their objectivity, but part of is saying that they are doing that for page views, for clicks. Write a “Nintendo doomed” article and the “horde” of fans will come rushing on the comment section to disagree. Some of these comments, I have seen, can even become stand-alone 500-word articles. Apple journalists seem to target Nintendo a lot these days. The guys at Techcrunch are a fine example, , though a regular columner there wrote this fine article that I can recommend for every Ninty fan to read. http://techcrunch.com/2013/10/13/what-games-are-the-nintendo-difference-still-exists/

  • Clint

    As Jabberjaw would put it, “No respect!” Man, Nintendo needs to make a Jabberjaw game.

  • macirex

    In the heart of most gamers (mine included) the Ps2 was the perfect console, it`s understandable why it is hailed as such, lets just check some of the merits:
    - It had a surplus of good games that no other console will ever be able to reach. It had games of every genre and suited different people taste.
    - It lasted one and a half generation of console lifespan which only the NES is capable of claiming. Some friends of mine skipped the current generation completely.
    - First DVD console and thus the very first DVD player most people got.
    - It was the first successful backwards compatible console.
    -There was at least 2 or 3 great releases every month!
    - First console which could stand vertically.
    - The damn thing was sexy in my eyes…

    Wii merits:
    - Motion control
    - Family oriented

    Both failed at online gaming… but at least the ps2 did not have friend codes.

    I don´t think there will ever be another console like the ps2… that´s why is hailed as legendary…

    • http://aussie-gamer.com/ Tynan Muddle

      Well, that’s fine. I think it’s great that so many people love PlayStation 2.

      But these aren’t bloggers, they’re professional journalists. They shouldn’t have “tears in their eyes”. Or if they do, they shouldn’t write about it.

      That’s all this article is trying to point out. It’s okay to love PS2. It’s not okay to shout your devotion from the roof tops while slamming or being completely arrogant about another console.

      What if a journalist came out and said “I love PlayStation 3 so much that every game I review from now on will have 10 extra points allocated to it if it’s on PlayStation 3″, would that be okay? Of course not.

  • Rosalind Harris

    This is just more example of the media bias against Nintendo that we see pretty much everyday. I think that there are lots of great games on both consoles, and lots of terrible games. I think that because PS2 is so old, people are already experiencing the nostalgia factor, and saying that every game on the console was amazing (just like every song in the 70s is better than today’s music, haha). But as you said, these are personal opinions, and they have no place in professional journalism.

  • butt-hurt much?

    You sound kinda butt-hurt

  • Teepo

    Wii was a shovelware dumping ground and only served to hold the industry back. It’s not really surprising that people have more love for the console that just had better games.