Nintendo’s popular Wii game console will displace Microsoft’s Xbox 360 as the new-generation game machine, iSuppli said Thursday.
The market researcher forecasted that the global installed base of Wii game consoles will rise to 30.2 million units in 2008, up from 18 million in 2007, putting it ahead of the Xbox 360’s projected 25.7 million units.
The Wii is already riding a wave of popularity that saw it win the greatest growth among new game consoles last year, according to iSuppli figures. There were only 3.2 million units in people’s homes at the end of 2006, jumping to 18 million at the end of last year. The Xbox 360 retained its lead as the console in most homes last year by edging out the Wii with 18.2 million units, while the PlayStation 3 lagged rivals with 10.3 million, up from 1.8 million per year earlier.
iSuppli did not include older game consoles or handhelds in their report.
The market researcher chalks up Nintendo’s success to a strategy of offering a lower-cost game console targeted at everyday people, rather than an expensive console with the latest graphics aimed at video game lovers. The main difference between the Wii and its rivals is the wireless controller and sensors that detect hand motion and speed. The innovation puts motion into gaming, because users swing the Wii controller to hit virtual baseballs and golf balls on their TV screens, go bowling and fight in boxing.
The Wii currently sells for $249.99 in the U.S., according to electronic retailer Best Buy’s Web site, while the Xbox 360 costs $349.99 and the PlayStation 3 $399.99.