Word on the street is that Nintendo is preparing to launch a new game console at E3 in June, which would be rather surprising, given the fact that the Wii isn't even five years old and is just three quarters through its anticipated lifecycle. Sales, however, have collapsed and Nintendo needs to support a game system that has changed the way we understand video games today.
Should we be surprised that Nintendo is now rumored to be planning a new game console? If you listened to Nintendo's official corporate voice, certainly. But those rumors have been floating around since E3 2010, when Nintendo countered the massive refreshes of the PS3 and Xbox 360 with a range of new games and disappointed its fan base. Remember the big deal about Epic Mickey? It never could have been epic enough to take on Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Kinect. It was fairly clear that Nintendo had missed the next phase of video gaming; there was no solution to its problem to attract third-party developers, and its gamer base was left with a potential upgrade option to a rival console. As successful as the Wii was, it had flaws that are being exploited by the PS3 and Xbox 360. This new Wii carries the hope to make the Wii competitive again.
1. Don't give us a Wii 2
As silly as it sounds, we actually think it is too early for a Wii "2." The Wii has created a massive customer base of more than 60 million people around the world, and 35.5 million just in the U.S.
Nintendo needs to leverage its customer base. We are hearing that the new Wii could be backwards compatible with the original Wii, which would be an essential feature of this console. In fact, we would anticipate a Wii 1.5 rather than a Wii 2. Hopefully, this new Wii will be a solid upgrade with a few new ideas, but leaves the overall concept of the Wii alone. There are plenty of people who still enjoy the Wii. Following Microsoft's radical controller idea would be the wrong way to go and would be against Nintendo's philosophy to introduce completely new ideas.
This is an obvious new feature. The current HD penetration calls for HD game consoles. The old Wii just can't keep up with its rivals in this space, which makes its games and interface graphics look silly and outdated. Whatever it is called, Wii 2, Wii 1.5 or Wii HD, high-definition gaming is a must for the new console.
Lack of support for third-party developers has been a major letdown since the introduction of the Wii. Nintendo has a strong focus on software, but it lacks major titles that could attract a hard-core gamer base that provides evangelists for the Wii. Initial concerns voiced by analysts last year turned into reality: Wii owners aren't buying as many games as Nintendo would have hoped. The big blockbusters are on Nintendo's rival platforms these days. A new Wii will have to come with much greater third-party support as Nintendo needs to expand its focus from the general gamer to the enthusiast gamer as well.
4. Controller evolution
There seems to be a lot of focus on a potentially new controller with an HD screen. We are not quite sure how this could be a concept that is enhancing video gaming in front of a large-screen TV, but we would agree that at least a touchscreen device would be an interesting evolution of the controller. Of course, Nintendo could also go after Kinect, but it is clear today that Kinect isn't quite the device Microsoft promised it to be yet as it requires a lot more resolution to play in tune with what we perceive to be high-definition gaming. Years will go by until Kinect will be able to match the accuracy of a Wii or Move controller. If a new Wii is on the way, we would bet the farm on a new look at the existing Wii Remote that will be simplified, more accurate, and intuitive, as well as easier to use.
5. DS integration
Another obvious feature: Include all those DS players in the main console experience. Every Wii could work as a hotspot to easily connect with DS handhelds. There is a huge DS fan and gamer base out there -- and integration with the Wii could not only open new store opportunities for Nintendo, but extend the idea of social gaming that could allow DS gamers to use their DS units as game interfaces.
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