Breaking Down the Nintendo Wii 2 with Blu-ray Rumor

The launch of PS3 Slim in September forcibly pushed Nintendo Wii from its comfortable top-selling perch. What was once the darling of the economically viable console world became far less relevant in an instant.

Nintendo is forced to accept a future in as early as 2010 where Microsoft and Sony could take a huge bite out of Nintendo’s base by releasing their in-development motion control systems for Xbox 360 and PS3 respectively. When this happens, the playing field will be more level from a functionality standpoint yet favor the high definition consoles capable of outputting more complex and cutting edge games.

The brass at Nintendo have not been shy about talking about exploring high definition support for a future Wii console. Now the first rumor suggesting this will happen has surfaced, and it goes a step further by suggesting Wii will become more than a gaming platform.

MaxConsole is suggesting their source Artik has a mole inside the French arm of Nintendo who has spilled the beans on Nintendo’s plan to update the Wii. Here is what he is offering.

  • The Wii 2 system will feature a Blu-Ray drive with a secondary aim of stopping piracy.
  • 1080P and lower resolutions will be supported, for blu-ray movies and games.
  • The release date is scheduled for third quarter of 2010.
  • The release will be worldwide and on the same day for all countries.
  • A scheme will be available in which it is possible to trade in the original Wii for a cheaper price on the new Wii 2.
  • Wii 2 will be announced 1 month prior to release

Let’s break each one of these down.

1080p support and a Blu-ray drive
Blu-ray drives are becoming more cost effective year after year and its inclusion with a new Wii would make sense for copy protection and “modernizing” the console. It would be an even bigger win for the Blu-ray Disc Association who still struggles to sell the format to casual audiences content with DVD. In fact, it makes as much sense as putting DVD into the PS2.

Nintendo is already showing signs of diversifying Wii’s abilities beyond a gaming console to keep pace with Sony and Microsoft. New Wii Channels keep popping up unrelated to gaming with the biggest being the Wii TV Guide Channel in Japan. This would be a great fit for a potential Wii 2 in the US.

3rd Quarter 2010 Release
Barring any setbacks, Microsoft is expected to roll out Project Natal and Sony its motion controller wand accessory for the 2010 holiday season. Nintendo has been absolutely mum on their next big development and unleashing a new and improved Wii is the best defense against the offensive storm that is brewing.

Worldwide Simultaneous Release
This is logistically tougher for Nintendo than a staggered release but certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. It would surely make for a global spectacle.

Trade-In Program
This one is tougher to take in stride. There are millions of Wii consoles out in the wild and Nintendo would surely lose a lot of money taking them back in. Unless there is more to this.

Hypothetically Nintendo could offer say a $100 trade-in value for a working Wii towards a pricier Wii 2. They could then donate or resell the old Wii’s while homes fill up with the new Wii’s. Penetration of new Wii’s into households would be much faster with a program like this in place.

Late Announcement
My initial reaction to this was “BS” but then I took a step back and looked at PS3 Slim. Sony waited until within less than a month of that console upgrade before announcing its arrival. I view Wii 2, as rumored in this leak, to be more of an upgrade than an all-new console. A graphical upgrade with Blu-ray, yes, but I doubt there will be any major changes to the Remote and Nunchuk control scheme. The late announce bolstered by word of mouth worked for Sony. No reason why it would not work here either.

It’s way too early to say whether this rumor will pan out and we’ll be looking at a true Wii HD in late 2010. Based on a simple analysis, nothing it presents is too far fetched for us to write it off at this time.

– Dan Bradley

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