Grandpa would sooner die than get sick of playing that same level on Wii Sports.

And so it appears Nintendo’s big push to go after non-traditional gamers may have severely bruised game sales.

Months ago, the Nintendo Wii, the company’s newest gaming system which uses motion-based controllers, was sitting at the top of the $18-billion-a-year video game industry. They had done the impossible and got moms, dads, grannies, trannies, grandpas and children of all ages to buy a video game system.

The disappointing part has started to trickle-in this month. An article in the New York Times today looked at the cold hard facts behind geriatric wii-ing:

The average Wii owner buys only 3.7 games a year, compared with 4.7 for Xbox 360 owners and 4.6 for PlayStation 3 owners, said a Wedbush Morgan analyst, Michael Pachter. “It reflects the broadening of the demographic,” he said. “Nintendo’s market doesn’t feel the same sense of urgency to buy every game that’s coming out.”

Those are the facts, and it’s coming as a pretty big shock to Nintendo. They had all assumed that these Grannies and Grandpas would be lining up at 6am for the newest Super Smash Brothers release.

That game sold great in the first couple of weeks, but analysts attribute that to anticipation from hardcore Smash Bros fans. The rest of the Wii owners sat at home and played Wii Tennis again.

Before the Nintendo crowd lose all their market edge completely, they are rolling out some new games paired with marketing strategies that they’re hoping will get older crowds into the closest GameStop ASAP. The first of which will be Wii Fit, an exercise game that will get the biggest budget for marketing in Nintendo’s history. Pachter, the analyst from the NYTimes article, added:

The money will not be spent wooing young men. “Wii Fit is just not aimed at hard-core gamers,” Mr. Pachter said. “It’s definitely aimed at the Oprah crowd. I bet they sell a million units a week for every pound that Oprah says she lost on it.”

Wow, so you’re saying this game has the potential to sell 500 million units?! I wonder how many teenage kids are going to have to fight off their mom for the controller. And could Oprah potentially start a game-of-the-month club?

New York Times: New Wii Games Find a Big (but Stingy) Audience, April 21, 2008
BusinessWeek: Gaming Trends: The Big Players of 2008, March 24, 2008