After weeks of shuffling around the issue, Nintendo has offered a solution to broken wrist straps that plague its Wiimote controller, the unique remote-control style pointing controller for its Wii console. Consumers can now order replacement wrist straps from an online form, located here on its website, www.nintendo.com.|
Designed to allow for gameplay that involves freeform movement from players, the Wiimote comes with a wrist strap to guard against players dropping or tossing the controller out of their hands. However, there were breakout reports and somewhat sensationalist coverage from the media of flying controllers. Players were apparently using a full range of motion and losing their grip on their controllers, letting them loose and crashing into walls and television screens. The cord that keeps the wrist strap attached to the bottom of the controller was seemingly too thin and brittle to withstand the force of some players' motions, and completely snapped - rendering the wrist strap useless.
A website cleverly named wiihaveaproblem.com surfaced a while ago, magnifying these issues with YouTube videos of players injuring themselves and smashing remotes through television screens. Skeptics wondered how these players just happened to have the video camera turned on during these mishaps, but the damage from this phenomenon - along with complaints from consumers - has irreversibly magnified the issue for Nintendo.
Gamers and the media have been somewhat divided on the subject. The common cry from disgruntled consumers is that Nintendo is responsible for delivering a defective product. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has responded to this by saying, "Players are getting a lot more excited than we'd expected" while playing Wii. Yet, others cite the countless commercials and promotional videos that depict excited players using a full range of motion when playing the sports games in Wii Sports, jumping behind couches wildly when playing Call of Duty 3 or Red Steel, and mimicking violent slashing when playing Zelda as influential in misleading consumers to reach that level of excitement. Others in the gaming media also acknowledge this point, but also emphasize that - with their extensive experience using the controller in order to preview and review countless games - they've never once had an issue with controller tossing or broken wrist straps. Another point of contention could be the fact that the Wii Sports manual clearly tells players to "Swing Gently" for each sport.
Yet, the general argument that rises above them all in this whole mess is that the banter seems to be that whatever the case may be, the wrist strap is meant to be there as a so-called "idiot-proofing" mechanism - but is clearly not doing its job as such. Amidst its warnings and pleas otherwise, Nintendo could be seen as having quietly admitted fault when photos emerged on the web of thicker, stronger wrist-straps were seen from newly distributed Wii consoles in Australia and Europe. Now, we've got the replacement form.
Home videogame console launches, like many consumer electronic product launches, have been commonly prone to snafus. Last year, in 2005, the Microsoft Xbox 360 November launch saw some consumers seeing the "red ring of death" - a red warning light on the console signaling a hardware error of some sort. Dissatisfied consumers were in an even more fierce uproar when replacement shipments took longer than they should have. Months earlier, during the Sony PSP's first months in existence, the analog "nub" and the Square button on the unit's face were notorious for working improperly and - in the case of the former - falling off completely. In November of 2004, Nintendo's own Nintendo DS launch saw an onslaught of dead pixels. In fact, earlier this year, Nintendo's revision of that hardware - the DS Lite - went through its own growing pains as the hinge holding together the two main pieces of the unit started cracking violently for some users.
Furthermore, with the most recent launches, those being the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii, issues in addition to Nintendo's wrist strap problem have surfaced. Not only did Nintendo have to contend with broken straps and physical injuries; it had to answer the irate calls of consumers whose consoles were "bricked" - or rendered completely useless - by a downloaded firmware update to add functionality to the consoles. Sony has its share of problems - though not quite as show-stopping - with compatibility issues between its Playstation 3 and certain high-definition TVs which saw people unable to sync their 1080p display resolution with their audio equipment.