Well, thanks for an actual intelligent discussion... so rare on teh intertoobz these days. Farmville and the like are just the same as those kinds of games always were, it's just more easily accessible to the average person. Games like that always existed but either needed a console or handheld (Harvest Moon, or even Animal Crossing) and as a result saw limited followings.
Animal Crossing has a decent showing: DS - 11 million units and Wii - almost 3.5 million. But I see your point considering Farmville claims over 70 million people playing. I don't see much in the way of Hollywood voice acting, amazing 3D visuals, cut screens, and detailed story in Farmville. Take note game companies, people play Farmville without all those elements! I still wonder what their revenue is like.
Nintendo could clean up by re-launching those titles in a place like Facebook... but they have always resisted that. Eventually they may be forced into this direction. Hop on with a media player vendor and create a real iPod alternative with Nintendo branded titles = insta-win over Apple.
I have no idea what Nintendo will do after Wii runs it's course. Then again, no one knew what Nintendo would do after the Gamecube. They managed to zig when everyone else zagged. Can they pull that off again?
Those $60 short games often have good production and gameplay, but they are short because of the enormous costs to make a game any longer... plus us gamers shot ourselves in the foot by glomming onto downloadable content packs and endless sequels. Make your game $60 and short with what normally be the rest of the game in multiple DLC packs for an extra $5-10 a pop and you suddenly got $100+ for the same game you normally would have sold for $50-60.
This is where gaming is truly in decline. Game companies wanted to become movie companies and look at the results! I blame the "hardcore" crowd. The result is that consoles are in decline. The way I see it is that most consoles have a "hardcore" stigma -- testosterone to the max. I don't remember the Atari 2600 having this "hardcore" stigma. On the contrary, I remember going over to a friend's house and playing Atari 2600 games with him and his mom!
It is all interesting to me to watch play out simply because I was on the other side for so long. I also only wrote fully independent articles and reviews which meant I wouldn't take the standard bribes and payments for glowing reviews. It's also why I'm not afraid to speak out in forums like this. I have no dog in the fight, so it's purely academic anymore.
It is very interesting. I have never owned a console until I bought a Wii. I am *not* a hardcore gamer, but so far I am having a blast playing New Mario Brothers and Mario Kart. It makes me wonder if I missed out when the NES was king.