Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Friday, April 22, 2011

More Wii 2 Rumors: "Stream"?

Concept of a Wii 2 controller... looks expensive.
Nintendo is trying very hard to make sure they are the talk of E3, and in a positive way. Normally they try to release very little prior to the show, in order to maximize the impact of announcements at E3. This year, though, we're already seeing a flood of rumors about the successor to the Wii... and it's still April.

The details concern price, availability, and the name of the so-called Wii 2. Sounds like early 2012 is the release time, which makes sense given how long it takes to develop software (assuming that groups have been working on it for a while already). There's a chance it could hit for holiday 2011, but perhaps only in Japan. It would certainly help create a buzz if they only had a relative handful of units available for Christmas, trying to inspire lots of press and people holding onto Christmas money in order to buy a unit in the first quarter.

Pricing that's being floated now is somewhere in the $350 to $400 retail range, which sounds about right if Nintendo is trying to put together hardware that exceeds the capability of the current competition without losing a boatload of money on the new console. A tricky balancing act, to be sure, and so they will probably hold off as long as possible before attaching a price tag in a public way.

The console would be capable of 1080P output, and probably 3D as well. Supposedly the size is about that of an Xbox 360, with the industrial design resembling a modernized Super Nintendo. (Does this mean we can look forward to purple buttons on the case?) Controllers may include a Wii style remote as well as the aforementioned controller with a 6.2 inch HD screen. I suspect there will be a minimal amount of hardware in the box in order to keep costs down, and you'll likely spend more than $100 extra to get the extra controllers you'd want.

Nintendo's new console will really need some killer software if they hope to generate excitement greater than the 3DS. How about a new version of Zelda, in 1080P? That would get a lot of fanboys drooling. Given the rumored price tag, Nintendo has to find ways to appeal to a higher-end audience, which perhaps is why the rumor is going around that Nintendo is in heavy talks for a Grand Theft Auto 5 for the new console. That would certainly change the tone away from Wii Fit.

The name of Nintendo's new console? Rumor has it a leading contender is "Stream". I guess that's what comes after you take a Wii... sorry, sometimes those puns just sneak out. Perhaps it means they will stream movies, or games, or maybe they are just trying to get a little more online pizzazz going. If Nintendo is really serious about boosting digital distribution, they'll want to include a hard drive or some other sort of mass storage option for downloads. That's a huge limiting factor right now in making the Wii a viable platform for downloadable content sales... there's just not room for much.

Meanwhile, the responses from Sony and Microsoft have been unofficial, but pretty much suggesting that 2014 is the earliest they are looking at for coming out with new hardware. Of course, they may change their tune if Nintendo is eroding their market share with their Stream. Right now there must be a great gnashing of teeth and pondering about how to recapture the news momentum at E3. Sony, at least, has the NGP to talk about, and will probably push that hard so you don't think too much about a new console to replace the PS3. What's Microsoft got? Good question...

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