Cross Generation Console Wars Part 2: Wii vs Xbox

September 11, 2013

Wii, the console that revived Nintendo’s dominance in the home console business, versus the Xbox, Microsoft’s first attempt to get into the console market. Which one is better?


The Wii was released in 2006, 5 years after its predecessor, the Gamecube.
Much like the Gamecube, the Wii’s hardware sports a PowerPC CPU and an ATI GPU, both chips having full backwards compatibility with Gamecube code. The Gamecube’s Optical Disc technology was further improved to allow 4.7GB single layer discs and 8.5GB dual layer discs, a much better improvement over the Gamecube’s 1.4GB mini DVD-like discs, without loosing compatibility for the older Gamecube discs. Hardware wise, the Wii is essentially a simple upgrade of the Gamecube (some people go as far as calling the Wii a Gamecube 1.5), but software wise the OS is much more complex than the Gamecube, mostly due to the use of a NAND chip to store upgradeable system files rather than a read-only BIOS. The Wii’s biggest upgrade from the Gamecube was the controller, a motion sensor controller capable of detecting movements in 3D space. An innovation that made the Wii the best selling console of the 7th generation. Aside from this, the Wii is the only home console in its generation incapable of outputting HD content in HDMI, although it is compatible with component cables. This makes the Wii see like a mix of two generations, making the hardware look 6th gen and old, while the software and innovations make it look 7th gen.

The Xbox was Microsoft’s first home console, released in 2001, soon after the Dreamcast’s demise. While not much is known as to why Microsoft suddenly entered the console wars, and how development started, there are more than enough reasons to believe that the Xbox was initially developed by Sega as the Dreamcast 2, and that Sega sold out the system to Microsoft when it got out of the hardware business.
The Xbox had basically all the Dreamcast lacked: two analog sticks, DVD drive, Hard Drive, and more power. Microsoft also helped with the development of the Dreamcast’s OS by supplying a modified version of Windows CE, which makes you wonder why would Microsoft help the competition if it was going to enter the console market? this leads to believe that the Xbox was not thought up to exist until the Dreamcast’s demise, and that development of the console was short and quick. This might explain why they reuse some Dreamcast features, like the memory card being connected to the controller rather than the system, and why the Xbox was essentially a glorified PC using an Intel Pentium III CPU and nVidia NV2A GPU.


We all know what types of games are popular amongst the Nintendo community: Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Kirby, etc. And the Wii is no different, but unlike other Nintendo consoles, the Wii was famous for games that made exclusive use of the new controller technology for more realistic gameplay: Wii Sports, Wii Party, Wii Fit, etc.
With this said, here are the best selling games for the Wii:
– Wii Sports
– Mario Kart Wii
– Wii Sports Resort
– Wii Play
– New Super Mario Bros. Wii
– Wii Fit
– Wii Fit Plus
– Super Mario Galaxy
– Super Smash Bros. Brawl
– Wii Party

On the other hand, the Xbox set out to be a direct competitor of the PS2, and as such, most Xbox games are also available on the PS2, except a few new titles that have really made history, mostly Halo and Fable. The problem is, not even these tittles were Xbox exclusives, they were also available on PC, making buying an Xbox pretty much useless. Here are the best selling Xbox titles:
– Halo 2
– Halo: Combat Evolved
– Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell
– Fable
– Project Gotham Racing
– Grand Theft Auto Double Pack
– Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
– Counter-Strike
– Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
– Need for Speed: Underground 2

Winner: the Wii
While I feel Xbox games are better than Wii games, the fact that they are not exclusives is a downside and makes buying the system pretty much useless, add that to the fact that people never grow tired of Mario games, and you have the reason why the Wii wins in this category

In this category I mostly compare controllers and their functionality.

The Xbox controller was highly criticized for its huge price, so much that it was given the title of the Biggest Controller by the Guinness World Records in 2008 and the second worst controller by IGN. The controller was then redesigned to a smaller, lighter version, which “fixed” the huge size of the original, making it a lot more comfortable and usable. But aside from its bulkiness, the controller was praised for it’s shoulder buttons, and the placement of the joysticks was far better than the PS2 for some people.

A comparison of the original fat controller and the redesigned version.

The Wii controller on the other hand was a new world. Not only did it have a shape never seen before, but it was mostly based on motion gaming rather than traditional buttons. This was the best selling point of the Wii, but was also the most criticized feature in the system aside from its last-gen hardware. Gamers were split in opinions about this new controller, many complained that it was hard to handle, the battery life was horrible (and the fact that it used AA batteries rather than built-in rechargeable batteries didn’t help much), and the lack and positioning of the buttons deemed many games unplayable. All this criticism by some fans made Nintendo create a new type of controller: the Classic controller, and some games allowed the use of a Gamecube controller, for gamers who prefer playing games as they have been doing for a long time. The downside is, many games still required the motion controller, so this was not a definite “fix”.

Different ways to play with the Wii. Most games only use the motion controller, but games like Super Smash Bros Brawl allow you to use any of these methods.

Winner: tied.
Both controllers have their downside, and while the Xbox’s “fixed” controller does a better job, we can’t forget that there’s still a lot of people who like the Wii’s motion controller and it was the mayor selling point of the system.


When it comes to market share we know the PS2 dominated its era, while other competing consoles greatly lacked behind, here are the units sold of each consoles:
– PS2: 150 million
– Xbox: 25 million
– Gamecube: 24 million
– Dreamcast: 10 million
This leaves the Xbox with around only around 10% to 15% market share.

On the other hand, the Wii was the dominating console in the 7th generation. But unlike the PS2, it didn’t surpass the other console by such a big margin. Here are the units sold of each console:
– Wii: 100 million
– PS3: 75 million
– Xbox 360: 78 million
This leaves the Wii with roughly around 40% market share.

Winner: the Wii.
Not only did the Wii sold 4 times as many copies as the Xbox, it also had 4 times as much market share, making it the clear winner of this category.

Back in the old school a console could do nothing more than playing games. All this changed when the PS1 popularized playing audio CDs and games on the same apparatus, and later the PS2 impulsed this initiative by allowing gamers to also play DVD movies on their system, having an all in one place device (back then digital stuff wasn’t so popular, movies where mostly watched in DVD format and most people tend to have both the console and a DVD player hooked to the TV, the PS2 changed this).

When it comes to media capabilities, the Xbox far surpassed any console, and even any device, of its time. Allowing you store multimedia in the internal hard drive, as well as ripping audio CDs, playing video DVDs, and downloading content from Xbox Live.
With this said, the Xbox became the player’s choice when it came to games + media functionality as it far surpassed any other console to date.

The original Xbox allowed you to rip audio CDs to the hard drive,a s well as playing video DVDs and other content downloaded from Xbox Live.

On the other hand, the Wii’s media functionality was basically nonexistant. The system at one point was designed to read video DVDs, as the proprietary laser Nintendo created was nothing more than a modified DVD laser (and this became even more certain when hackers were able to play Gamecube backups burned to standard mini DVDs), but the idea of the Wii reading video DVDs was scrapped, perhaps Nintendo didn’t want people to know that the Wii can read standard DVDs just fine. Playing CDs was also impossible on the system, and the lack of any good storage media such as a hard drive made playing digital media impossible. Neither the SD card slot nor the USB ports were used to play multimedia either. basically the Wii was designed for games and games only, much like classic console, really classic consoles. Compared to the PS1, the Wii is in the stone age when it comes to media other than games.

Even though Gamecube (and subsequently Wii) discs are essentially modified DVDs, and both systems are fully capable of reading standard DVDs, we still haven’t seen a single system update that makes the Wii capable of reading Video DVDs directly. We can’t even put the SD card slot and USB ports to good use with what Nintendo gives us.

Winner: the Xbox.
Not only was the Xbox the most capable media console of its time, but the fact that the Wii, a 7th gen console, had no media functionality at all, makes the Xbox the clear winner of this category.


The Xbox’s design was criticized, much like its controller, for its bulky size, as well as overheating issues, problems with the DVD drive failing to read discs and small capacity of the internal hard drive coupled with the fact that it’s hard to replace it without voiding the warranty. What made the Xbox so big was mostly the oversized DVD reader, and the use of a 3.5 hard drive instead of a 2.5 one. This could be to cut prices on the system, 2.5 hard drives weren’t as cheap as 3.5 ones, but this doesn’t exclude its small capacity (4GB). As mentioned, the system also suffered from overheating, mostly caused by bad ventilation, and even if the system didn’t break you still had a very noisy fan. Unlike the PS2, which also suffered from a noisy fan, the Xbox never got a hardware revision, so original Xbox fans gotta put up with all these problems.

ok, ok, I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea.

The Wii is completely different, being as powerful as the Xbox, it’s a lot smaller, does not overheat and the fan makes no noise. The DVD drive is also much stronger, as well as having much faster read rates than standard DVDs. The system can be placed horizontally or vertically, unlike the Xbox having to be always horizontal.
The Wii has no internal capacity (no hard drive, no flash memory, nothing except the NAND for the firmware), but it does have two USB 2.0 ports and a SD Card slot, something the Xbox lacked, although as I’ve mentioned in the FUNCTIONALITY category, there is not much use for these ports (at least, officially).

Winner: the Wii.

Compared to other consoles, even more powerful ones, the Xbox is a monster.

Just as the previous iteration of Cross Generation Console Wars, in this one I take users’ opinions into consideration, doing so by making a poll in /talk’s offtopic thread, . Here’s the result of the votes:
– Wii: 7/13
– Xbox: 6/13

Although the Wii wins this one, it’s not by a large margin as it was with the NES vs PS2 article. Some of the comments are really nice in expressing their opinions, like jc_gargma’s comment:

Wii, no contest.
The Wiimote made mane titles even more wonderful, like Mario Party. It also had full gamecube backwards compatibility (games, controls, and memory cards,) which made it viable to buy even early in its life. The addition of Miis as personal avatars were cool, and it was nice to be able to use them in various games that were fun.

Xbox was the worst console I ever owned. Laughably oversized controller, pointless proprietary memory card, controller cables that on the slightest tug split on the system saver crease, payment required online play.
And for technical problems, oh, failing to render most games at a playable speed, constant disc read errors, freezing, overheating, RROD.
The only thing this system had going for it was the neato green goup system UI, and DOAXBV.

– jc_gargma

or fate6′s comment:

I have had both and have modded both
I like the Wii for having fun games that not only I could enjoy but so could the younger kids
but honestly I don’t like motion controls or the vast majority of the Wii games and in fact I only ever really played RE4 and Mario games

The Xbox on the other hand I really love because not only does it have my lost love Halo but what could be done with it was just plain awesome!
even today I still use it and no not for media even tho I put a 120GB HDD I had but for modding

I mostly use it for modding Halo 1 and 2 (RTH FTW!) but also I like that it had the better BLACK plus I like Forza over GT
You can use PC mods for Morrowind or GTA games and heck Fable was also modifiable

Yes you can mod Wii games but for me its just not the same plus like I said I don’t like motion controls >__<

I feel like I just typed a lot of nothing but mhee hope someone finds it useful :/

– fate6

or the more extensive comment by Tonakai, which you can read .

Some people thought it was a way too hard decision, so they preferred to drink a beer:

Hmm, the Wll or the Xbox thingy. Decisions, decisions, so difficult or not. I think I’d rather fancy grabbing myself a drink instead.

– Xian Nox

Winner: the Wii.
By a very small margin, the Wii came on top in people’s choice.

Winning 4 categories and tying up in one, the Wii comes out as the definite winner against the Xbox winning only one category and tying up in another.
The Xbox came short in the fact that most good games were multiplatforms, the design being somewhat flawed compared to the Wii, having no redesign that fixed these problems, and not selling nearly as much consoles as the Wii. On the other hand, the Wii had Mario games to support it, a new controller that attracted a lot of users, and a much smaller size.

The Wii is the Wiiner, ok that was bad…

If you liked the article, give the older one a try:

Cross Generation Console Wars Part 1: PS2 vs NES

and stay tuned for more.
I would also like your feedback, recommendations, what you like, what you dislike, etc, in the comments bellow.

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