Nintendo's Wii may be the world's most popular game console, but Sims creator Will Wright says it might not be a game console at all.
Wright told Industry Gamers at this week's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco that the Wii offers "very fun experiences" but that those experiences are markedly different from the ones on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.
The Wii "is like these fun toys to pick up and start playing in five minutes," he told Industry Gamers. The console "is more into what I would call the toy market, because most of the Wii games I've enjoyed felt more like toys than like games."
The Sims creator also touched on something that many Nintendo critics have been saying for quite some time: the Wii is for a younger crowd. Since hard-core gamers would likely pick up an Xbox 360, Wright noted, Nintendo needed to "lean younger."
Wright didn't say anything we haven't already heard about the Wii. On numerous occasions, critics have said that the Wii is more toy than game console. And Microsoft and Sony have been saying for years that the Wii isn't actually a rival.
Back in 2008, Sony CEO Howard Stringer told Bloomberg that he "didn't see the Wii as a competitor." He brushed it aside, calling it an "expensive niche game device."
Around the same time, Aaron Greenberg, Microsoft director of product management, told Gamasutra that his company also didn't "really see the Wii as a direct competitor."
Regardless of what Sony and Microsoft say, Nintendo has marketed the Wii as a game console in direct compeition with Xbox 360 and PS3. The boxes all sit next to one other on store shelves. Their prices are similar. Even the games are made by many of the same developers.
Deciding whether the Wii is a toy or a game console is decidedly subjective. What constitutes a toy? It's a question that can't be easily answered. But it's one that invariably sparks an interesting discussion.