Nintendo working on Wii's successor for a pending announcement and 2012 release?

Bill Loguidice's picture

Well, it was only a matter of time. Many of us have been noticing the dearth of major Wii releases for 2011. In fact, my own observation went a bit further, in that while the Wii received many quality first party titles in 2010, it didn't receive anything that would require a significant monetary or time investment befitting a typical AAA title (because, let's face it, many of these were just 2D-style side scrolling games). That's why the recent news (here, among many other places) of a possible Wii price drop and the potential for a Wii successor announcement in the next month or so - with more details at this year's E3 - was not really all that surprising. It's really the only logical way to explain how Nintendo can trump even if its own classicly lethargic release schedules with what it has been doing - or not doing as the case may be - in regards to new product on the Wii. It would also explain why the relatively modest 3DS launch would have been such a drain on the company, since their resources were divided between that and the Wii successor.

Certainly the price drop is a typical move for a product in this stage of its lifecylce and is one that the competition has parlayed to some advantage as well. However, I feel that the launch of a possible next generation successor to the Wii in 2012 - let alone its potential pending announcement - is extremely premature. Here's why:

  • Though overall sales have dropped considerably, Nintendo could have easily continued to milk the Wii for more sales with a combination of successive and properly timed price drops and a few big first party titles here and there
  • If, as some of the rumors suggest, the Wii successor is only roughly as powerful as the 360 and PS3, it puts Nintendo in the exact same position they're in now with the Wii when the inevitable 360 and PS3 successors are released--presumably as quickly as 2013 if Nintendo releases in 2012
  • By announcing and releasing so early, Nintendo would give both Microsoft and Sony (who are of course each working on their own next generation platforms) plenty of time to copy all of the Wii successor's best features and then trump them. This is not something a company in a solid first place should do.

In any case, what are your thoughts on this? Too soon for Nintendo? Right time? Let's hear it!

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Matt Barton
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I guess it's as good as time

I guess it's as good as time as any for them. Almost everybody with disposable income (sigh) has a big HD TV, so it's only natural that they'd want an HD Wii to take advantage of them. It seems like the sort of modest step that will appeal to Nintendo's demographic. Indeed, the weakest consoles for Nintendo tended to be the biggest leaps technologically, such as the N64.

Nintendo is quite comfortable lagging behind in terms of power and filling its pockets with the kiddie, fanboy, and casual markets. Those are considerable, so I don't blame them. If they ended up with a $600 system that blew the 360 and PS3 out of the water and could compete squarely with their next gens, it would probably hurt more than help them. When Microsoft and Sony do release their next gens, it's not like Nintendo's audience will give a damn about how much "better" they are.

I just wish Nintendo would team up with Fisher Price and get it over with. I have never liked the fact that the Wii stuff looks like medical devices.

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Nous
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factual rumours

Interesting, maybe inevitable to some extent, but let's not forget we still have no idea what exactly they will announce (if anything).

One thing I want to point out is that it's not so much that Wii sales have dropped over the past couple of years. It's the RATE at which they've been dropping - extrapolate the sales curve into the next 18 months, throw in the inevitable price drop (once or even twice in that same period), calculate the total loss of profit due to these two factors and account for the increasing loss of customers to the other two consoles as well as tablets and smartphones, and you may just begin to realise that Nintendo needs to do something about it sooner rather than later.

If an official announcement takes place this year, say at or before E3, then I agree it does seem a bit premature especially if the actual console won't be relased until late in 2012! However, if they are worried about users migrating to 360 and PS3 then this kind of announcement now probably makes sense - there's more to gain by keeping Wii users loyal to the platform in anticipation of its successor than to lose by having people delay a Wii purchase in order to go straight to the next big thing by Nintendo.

The danger of course is that, given Nintendo's insistence on maintaining high margins combined with their relative inability to engineer higher-spec machines at a lower-than-Apple/Sony-cost (because hardware is simply not Nintendo's core competence), we might end up getting a roughly PS3 equivalent at a higher price point (perhaps with a gimmick thrown in for good measure) - a bit like the 3DS is basically Nintendo's version of the PSP 6 years later and twice as expensive! So, assuming the PS3 will be down to $199 by then (18 months from now) it's likely whatever Nintendo comes up with will sell for $299-$349 while being within the same performance range.

We'll have to wait and see ... it does look like my original prediction holds true though: it looks like sometime in 2009 or 2010 Nintendo realised it makes little sense for them to fight Apple/Android/etc for casual users (increasing competition, diminishing margins, no specific competitive advantage) and instead decided to turn around and reclaim the audience they lost to sony and microsoft!

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Nintendo Blazed the way and

Nintendo Blazed the way and is still with 3D.. but sadly in the end it hink its going to prove part of there undoing. the Wii, its a HIT not doubt about it.. but its sorta a One hit Wonder, it sold a huge amount, and quickly. The problem is we all have one now, its not a problem child like the 360, no resales, its not too expensive like the PS3... I always had a poor attach rate for 3rd party software (i think that more to blame on the quickly made shovelware than anything).

The really sad part.. the 3DS was huge on release, but current numbers show its dying quickly.. as in n-gage QUICK.. of course all the places saying this have no "hard" numbers.. but they are all retailers. It sure seems to soon to put the nail in the coffin of the 3DS, but many pretty reilabile places are (mostly non gameing ). I see in japan its already selling less then the old PSP, that in instelf may not sem like much.. but its a FIRST for a nintendo handheld... and even worse , such a new one.

And the really sad part its not just Nintendo, I was just (yesterday) in my local used games store here.. a month ago you paid $140 for Used Kinect, $70 for Move used.. and they had 1 or 2 of each.. now they have at least 15+ kinects and 10+ Moves.. Kinect is $90 and Move is $45... They even have bundles, units with 5-6 games for the price of one new one.. Sure gald I sprung for full price on both a few motnhs ago plus the games (not). They even have 3 3DS already... I was very tempted...

I really think phone and tablet gameing is going to make some big changes in console gameing real soon..

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Wii NG

So, let's see, my guess (or more, correctly, my realistic expectation based on ZERO information) would be Xbox 360/PS3 1.5 with a basic controller feature set that more or less matches Move/Kinect on the important points (meaning, yes, a camera, with at least rudimentary infrared tracking) and a more refined and robust version of the online integration hinted at in the 3DS. I'd also expect maybe a 64GB SSD for storage (again, for something that will be coming out in late 2012, this is not unreasonable, and capacity will be less of an issue if we assume some streaming content, rather than all stored content).

Now, the X factor (and something we can't really speculate on) is what hook/gimmick Nintendo would implement. Their last two systems have had unique (or at least, differentiating) feature-sets, so they'd have to present SOMETHING along those lines. What that could be would be anyone's guess. Certainly motion controllers were around prior to Wii, so we could have speculated on that. So, that begs the question, what technologies are around NOW that may not be mainstream, but might be usable in a gaming-centric console? Perhaps the controller might implement the NGP's rear touch panel to get some multi-touch action integrated? So what else along those lines might we consider?

Definitely a $299 - $349 price point. They almost NEED to be at that price to proclaim "next gen" and to further differentiate the Wii as the budget system of choice...

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clok1966
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incorrect
clok1966 wrote:

The really sad part.. the 3DS was huge on release, but current numbers show its dying quickly.. as in n-gage QUICK.. of course all the places saying this have no "hard" numbers.. but they are all retailers. It sure seems to soon to put the nail in the coffin of the 3DS, but many pretty reilabile places are (mostly non gameing ). I see in japan its already selling less then the old PSP, that in instelf may not sem like much.. but its a FIRST for a nintendo handheld... and even worse , such a new one.

Opps i misread that, the 3DS sales have dropped dramiticly in JAPAN... not the US, pretty hard for them to in a week or so... My mistunderstanding was all the US retialers where chiming in... not on thier numbers but Japans numbers... just wanted to correct myslef.

Nous
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not just japan
clok1966 wrote:
clok1966 wrote:

The really sad part.. the 3DS was huge on release, but current numbers show its dying quickly.. as in n-gage QUICK.. of course all the places saying this have no "hard" numbers.. but they are all retailers. It sure seems to soon to put the nail in the coffin of the 3DS, but many pretty reilabile places are (mostly non gameing ). I see in japan its already selling less then the old PSP, that in instelf may not sem like much.. but its a FIRST for a nintendo handheld... and even worse , such a new one.

Opps i misread that, the 3DS sales have dropped dramiticly in JAPAN... not the US, pretty hard for them to in a week or so... My mistunderstanding was all the US retialers where chiming in... not on thier numbers but Japans numbers... just wanted to correct myslef.

3ds sales seem to be down in all territories, not just japan!

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Nous
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Gimmicky

I agree, it's impossible to predict what kind of gimmick they'll come up with next! Could be just about anything really.

Not sure what you mean by PS3 1.5 .. do you mean a not-quite-next-gen spec but still halfway there type of thing?

I'm asking because the index numbers indicating console generations are on a logarithmic scale. Basically what that means is that any v2.0 would have to be an order of magnitude (at least) better than the previous one in order for any PERCEIVED difference to exist at all. In that sense, for something to be perceived as being halfway next-gen it would have to be about 5 times faster / bigger / better *at a minimum* - which I find highly unlikely in this case given the implied price point (remember, this is Nintendo we're talking about).

I fully expect the spec to be in the same ballpark range as the 360/PS3 with no noticeable perceived difference from what we already have. Even if it's slightly better than 360 (say, 50% - which again I highly doubt) that would not be noticeable at all in practice - and the generation index on the logarithmic scale would be 1.05 , not 1.5.

For the record, the PS2 was at least 20 times "better" than the PS1 and the PS3 at least 20 times "better" than the PS2 in terms of raw performance and capabilities (i.e. spec).

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Bill Loguidice
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I'm not talking in such

I'm not talking in such quantitatively strict terms, Nous. I'm basically saying that there would have to be some perception that this Wii 2 is technologically better than what either 360 or PS3 can do to make them seem a bit musty (i.e., last generation). Merely matching what the PS3 does is not going to cut it. The latest rumors are that the Wii 2 (or whatever it is called - it most likely won't have Wii anywhere in the name) will release in June 2012 in Japan and that it will only be ever so slightly more powerful than the Xbox 360 (and will have a controller with some type of color touchscreen). Not only is the advance notice that they're giving Microsoft and Sony excessive if that were true (meaning giving them more than enough time to copy/better any significant features), but that type of technological power won't cut it one year from new for what's supposed to carry them through another console generation.

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Bill Loguidice
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Project Cafe

From IGN (http://wii.ign.com/articles/116/1162045p1.html):
"According to our sources, the new Nintendo controller will feature dual analog sticks in addition to standard d-pad and trigger buttons. It'll mirror a Gamecube controller in general function but not in specific form.

French website 01.net has published additional details (via Develop), that say the touch capable screen on the controller is 6 inches in size, but we were unable to confirm the accuracy of the report. Additional details about the console's hardware specs could also not be confirmed.

Players will actually be able to stream game content to the controller screen from the console. It's unclear at this time what type of content it will be, whether it's full games you can take with you on the go, mini-games or applications. "

Following that to its logical conclusion, I suppose it could be argued that if indeed it can mirror what's on the console, it would be a way to play console games and/or watch streaming video services without tying up the TV. That's not unprecedented as the iPad can for instance wirelessly stream to the $99 Apple TV box, so doing the reverse wouldn't be impossible. That still gives us a controller that's too advanced for its own good in terms of being at a practical price point, though. They would be saving money by creating a box with Xbox 360-level tech in mid-2012, but then we're talking a crazy uber-controller with "HD" screen, camera, analog sticks, etc. That's the OPPOSITE of keeping things simple, though, something I'd be surprised Nintendo would want to get away from considering the success they've had with the concept with the Wii.

I think the rumor machine is having fun with us all, because so much of this just doesn't add up...

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Nous
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Generations

Well, that's fine. All I'm saying is that in terms of actual spec/performance/capabilities, for any perceivable difference to exist there has to be a difference of at least an order of magnitude. This is just how it is. If something is 10 times better the end user will simply perceive it as an "incremental improvement" or what we'd call "version 2" or "next generation". If it's only 50% or 100% better the user will hardly perceive much of a difference at all - certainly none that he would deem as a generational gap. The kind of spec that would offer that kind of an improvement is simply impossible within any reasonable price range, ESPECIALLY when we're talking about a Nintendo product (with Nintendo being both unwilling to sell at a loss and incapable of engineering products that are better and more cost effective than Sony or Apple for example).

Similarly, for a 1.5 type of improvement to be perceived, i.e. enough to make the PS3 look "old" relatively speaking, the spec would have to be many times better, at least 5 times if we're talking about it being potentially halfway next-gen. Again, that would push the price way up so I don't see it happening either. Not with Nintendo at least.

I'll go one step further: even if they do match the PS3 100% they will still not be able to sell it for $199 (which will most likely be the PS3's price at that point). Nintendo just can't make hardware cheaper than Sony (or Apple) and , more to the point, Nintendo does not seem to be willing to sell hardware without ensuring extremely healthy profit margins. The way to do that is have something that is almost comparable to what's out there (i.e. comparable but NOT equal spec) and at the same time try to introduce a gimmick or a different angle that they can market convincingly in order to justify a much higher price tag (higher than what the 360 and PS3 will have at the time, that is).

The real question is what that gimmick might be, and we just don't know that.

P.S. That sounds to me like Sony's "remote play" functionality where you can use your PSP in order to stream media and play games that run on your PS3 remotely, on your PSP. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_Play

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