[Games] It’s Coming – Wii 2 Set for E3

Image by Ramen Junkie

Image by Ramen Junkie

So as I reported some time ago, the momentum behind rumours of a replacement for Nintendo’s Wii are starting to gain traction. Several reports have emerged in the last few days quoting “insiders” as saying the new machine will be unveiled at E3 this June.

The timing certainly makes sense. The Wii has been on shelves since 2006 – an age in any previous console hardware cycle. Admittedly none of Nintendo’s competitors are thought to be close to launching new consoles, but with both Move and Kinnect giving gamers the opportunity to marry motion control with modern HD graphics the Gamecube powered Wii is starting to look very last-gen.

Likewise Nintendo has been gradually scaling back the release schedule of Wii game – with virtually no decent titles on the horizon, especially first-party releases. It would also make sense for the new device to follow hot on the heels of the 3DS. The Wii and 3DS don’t have much to do with one another, but a new console with proper connectivity the handheld would help drive sales of both devices.

There’s another even more compelling reason to believe Nintendo will be the first of the major manufacturers to blink and release a next-gen machine. Of all the “big-three” Nintendo is the least likely to want to push the technological boundaries. Since delays to the N64 cost them their market lead to Sony, they’ve refocused as a company that values gameplay over graphics, simplicity over specifications. The Gamecube got buried because it tried to compete on power with the PS2 and failed. The Wii succeeded because it used older technology and radical new design to massively undercut the price of the PS3 and 360 while offering a unique gameplay experience.

That means Nintendo can’t afford to be last. Now they’ve lost their monopoly on motion control, if they wait for Sony and Microsoft to take the lead in the next generation of hardware, they’ve never recover. Nintendo won’t invest in technology that will put the PS4 and next-gen Xbox to shame, and its current user-base won’t be impressed by that kind of digital willy waving anyway.

Launch now, with new hardware that moves the game on slightly beyond what 360 and PS3 can manage – bring something new to the party in terms of control and Nintendo can convince its tens of millions of Wii owners to upgrade in the two or three years before Microsoft and Sony respond with their own hardware, which will probably be the equivalent of a whole generation more advance in terms of raw power.

The window of opportunity is open now for Nintendo in the home console market. The Wii has a huge installed base, but is fast looking antiquated next to Kinnect and Move. Those systems though have yet to prove their worth. Neither has a killer app, and there’s no clear evidence that Wii owners are abandoning their consoles to jump on board Sony or Microsoft’s version of the motion-control bandwagon. If Nintendo acts now with a new HD console, capable of 3D that at least matches the kind of power we’re used to seeing from other current-gen platforms it can steal a march on its rivals and keep hold of that key casual segment of the games market. If it delays, it could be buried.

For all those reasons and more, you shouldn’t hope to see the new Wii at E3, you should bet your house on it.

PS Kotaku has written a great article highlighting what they want to see in the Wii 2. There are some great suggestions in there, but I’ll eat my hat if they all come off.

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Categories: Games

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