Nintendo Wii Wins Top Video Game Critics' Award

Video game critics on Wednesday honored Nintendo's Wii console and Electronic Arts' upcoming "Spore" video game for bringing fresh ideas to the $28.5 billion industry that has been criticized for relying on films for inspiration and on game sequels for sales.

Critics crowned the Wii "Best of Show" after game enthusiasts at the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) waited hours to get their hands on the Nintendo Co. Ltd. machine due later this year. They raved about how its new controller allowed them to play sports games like tennis and football much in the same way they are played in real life.

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"It's a great story and it's something different," said Geoff Keighley, co-chairman of the Game Critics Awards, an independent group of journalists from 37 North American media outlets that cover the video game industry.

"It proves that you don't necessarily have to spend $20 million on a big blockbuster game to stay competitive and get attention," he said, referring to the rapidly rising cost of developing games for Sony Corp.'s upcoming PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Xbox 360.

Creating games for the Wii is expected to be far less expensive than for the PS3 and Xbox 360, super-charged machines that boast eye-popping graphics capabilities and cost about twice as much as Nintendo's upcoming console.

Wii also won for "Best Hardware" and Nintendo's "Wii Sports" title took home the prize for "Best Sports Game."

EA's (ERTS) "Spore" — last year's "Best of Show" winner — won "Best Original Game," "Best PC Game" and "Best Simulation Game."

"Spore" is the brainchild of "The Sims" creator Will Wright. The game promises to let players take a creature from its cellular beginnings all the way through to missions of interstellar conquest.

Other winners include Epic Games and Microsoft Game Studios' "Gears of War" and UbiSoft's "Assassin's Creed."

Keighley called the new pool of ideas a good sign for the industry, which has begun to show signs of fatigue as its audience tires of sequels and film-inspired games.

"It shows that this industry can create great ideas that are also great games. It's also great to see that publishers are willing to bet big with original property," Keighley said.