Nintendo Announces Wii Successor for 2012; Will Unveil New Console at This Year’s E3

     April 25, 2011

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Over the past several weeks, there’s been heavy speculation from gaming sites that Nintendo would unveil Wii 2 (not the official name) at this year’s E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) for a 2012 release.  While Nintendo states that their policy is not to comment on speculation and rumor, they have now commented on speculation and rumor by announcing that the company will be unveiling the successor to the Wii at this year’s E3 and the system is set to be released in 2012.  No further details are available, but the model at E3 will be playable.  Nintendo president Satoru Iwata tells Reuters, “We would like to propose a new approach to home video game consoles,” which really doesn’t mean anything, but Iwata said it definitely doesn’t mean 3D since most folks don’t own 3DTVs.

Hit the jump for the press release as well as my thoughts on Wii 2.

nintendo-wii-01Back in 2006, I applauded Nintendo for forging a new direction in the home console market and instead of simply boosting graphics, they wanted to, as Iwata says now, create a new approach to home video game consoles.  Unfortunately, this approach was hamstrung by several factors:

1) Third-party developers want to make games for all consoles and you can’t do that when Microsoft and Sony’s consoles run better graphics and have their controller inputs mapped on a traditional controller.  The result is that major new release titles will hit the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, but bypass the Wii or the Wii will get a dumbed-down version.

2) The Wii’s motion controls never lived up to their promise.  With the exception of Wii Sports and its sequels, most developers really didn’t know how or weren’t able to create a one-to-one controller input which is why there’s no amazing Harry Potter or Star Wars game for the console.

3) Nintendo absolutely dropped the ball in the realm of online gaming and irriated users with ridiculous “Friend Codes” rather than devoted gamertags and the online incentives that Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network provide.

But the Wii has been successful because it appealed to kids and the casual gamer with games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit.  However, sales of the console have dipped over the last two quarters and that’s probably because it lacks the software to keep it going.  New games are the lifeblood of a console and the Wii relies almost entirely on Nintendo for must-own games, which are few and far between.

So it’s not much of a surprise that Nintendo wants to launch a new system, but I feel that it will be too little too late in terms of bringing back its audience.  Presumably, the new model will boast better graphics and a better controller, but by starting its life-cycle in 2012, it will only have a couple years before Microsoft and Sony unleash their long-awaited follow-ups to the 360 and PS3.

Obviously, I’ll have more to say on the console when it’s shown at E3 this June, but I think Nintendo is falling for a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

Here’s the press release:

To whom it may concern:

Re: Wii’s successor system

Nintendo Co., Ltd. has decided to launch in 2012 a system to succeed Wii, which the company has sold 86.01 million units on a consolidated shipment basis between its launch in 2006 and the end of March 2011.

We will show a playable model of the new system and announce more specifications at the E3 Expo, which will be held June 7-9, 2011, in Los Angeles.

Sales of this new system have not been included in the financial forecasts announced today for the fiscal term ending March 2012.

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