What is it about a new gadget that makes us spend billions of dollars each year, especially when it’s a mere upgrade to something we already have? Earlier this year, Nintendo released an update to the already massively popular Nintendo DS Lite handheld gaming system, called the DSi. The DSi bolsters an slightly larger screen, 3.25 inches instead of the DS Lite's 3. The DSi also comes with a built in camera (0.3 megapixels) with every picture coming out like you took it in a misty fog. Another major “upgrade” is the DSi’s ability to play audio files and browse the internet. Nintendo doesn’t tell you that you have to convert all of your music beforehand (to MP4 format) and the internet browser is about as fast as Richard Nixon admitting to Watergate. So I beg the question, why is the DSi outselling every other gaming console out there to date? What is it about meaningless upgrades that amaze the human race?

It’s no secret that the economy is in crisis mode, and the video game industry has felt it the same as everyone else. This explains the decrease in sales across the board, except for the DSi. In the month of April, when the DSi was launched, it moved over 1 million units in the United States alone. The power of Nintendo had struck gold once again. Compared to April of 2008, Nintendo doubled their shipments of the popular handheld from 414,800 in ’08 to 1,040,000 in ’09. It’s safe to say that Nintendo is not feeling the effects of this downturn.

For much of the past few years, Nintendo has owned the market for video games. This is evident by the sales of the Wii, DS, and now the DSi, and it’s not just hardware either. Nintendo’s Wii Fit and their best seller, Wii Sports have produced huge results for the mega-money maker. As you can see, Nintendo attacks the market from all angles, not just one like other video game companies do. Whether they are giving us an “upgraded” handheld that no one needs, an alternative to exercise (Wii Fit), the RPG version of Madden (Pokemon), or just another add on that will cost me $30 per Wiimote…we love it! Perhaps we should refer to Shigeru Miyamoto as “King Midas” from now on.

As we are now starting summer, Nintendo is quietly preparing to dominate the video game market again with the release of the Wii Motion Plus bundled with Wii Sports Resort. I am confident that the “tennis elbow” (Wii edition) coupled with carpal tunnel will make its triumphant return to soccer moms, stay-at-home dads, and active grandmothers everywhere.

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