Summer is officially over which means consumers will start turning their attention towards the next must have item for this year’s holiday season. As we get ready to welcome the next generation of gaming, Nintendo is once again at the forefront of releasing their latest hardware before competitors Sony and Microsoft. This morning in New York City, the Kyoto-based company officially announced the successor to Wii, Wii U, which will see a very Black Friday friendly November 18th release in the United States and on December 8th in Japan.
According to various sources, the Wii U will retail in two different packages. The $300(USD) Basic set will contain a white Wii U console with 8GB storage capacity, a Wii U gamepad, AC adapter and high-speed HDMI cable while the $350 black Deluxe set contains everything in the Basic set in addition to 32GB total storage capacity, extra memory, gamepad charging cradles and console/gamepad stands. Both consoles will be backwards compatible with existing Wii games, controllers and peripherals.
Nintendo’s history of innovation speaks for itself but skeptics will immediately suggest the Wii U price points are overindulgent for a console that is debatably still firmly rooted in the current generation of gaming. Speculation points towards the notorious Wii U tablet-controller retailing for a jarring $172(USD). While this may be considered an impractical investment for the average or casual gamer, the technology behind the Bluetooth-enabled Wii U tablet-controller is outstanding. The gamepads primary features include its impressive 6.2 inch touchscreen display which can be controlled with either fingers or a stylus. The screens functionality has a dual purpose to either supplement gameplay with additional functionality or directly stream gameplay from the actual console, making a television display all but optional. The controller also contains a front facing camera, dual analog sticks, gyroscope, built in microphone and full high definition video at 60 frames per second.
Nintendo also hopes to compete with Apple by announcing their own on-demand streaming video and TV service called NintendoTVii. The service is expected to be accessible by console via the Wii U tablet controller’s built in browser to control and watch all of your favorite television, sports and movie content with support for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Streaming. One of the biggest criticisms of Nintendo was that it could never figure out how to utilize the Internet and online functionality in its hardware. From what was shown at the unveiling in NYC this morning, Nintendo could have critics and maybe even some iTunes loyalists themselves sure to be eating crow with a bold leap into the growing pool of media on-demand platforms.
The good news is that NintendoTVii is included with either Wii U package at no additional cost or monthly fee. While it’s a no brainer that you can expect a new Super Mario Bros as a Wii U launch title, it also looks like the Wii U will have much better third party software support than its predecessor, but will the $300-350 price point and $172 tablet-controller fiasco completely turn off consumers during the holiday season?