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  • Wii U News

    by Published on November 3rd, 2012 21:22
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    Nintendo has revealed that Wii U will run a NetFront browser (NX v2.1), along with specs for the software.
    The browser will be capable of running either on your TV or via the Gamepad screen, and will support single-touch screen functionality. Multi-touch won't be supported.You will not be able to download/save or upload videos or pictures, confirms Nintendo. The browser will also not support plug-ins, such as flash, although it will support HTML 5 and, according to benchmarks, it outperforms current consoles and even Internet Explorer 10 on PC by a significant margin.
    AAC codecs are among those support for sound, while video formats and codecs include H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC Video) and MP4.
    Nintendo also confirmed the browser's multitasking support with games, so you will be able to "pause a game, launch the browser to search for tips on the game you're playing, and then re-enter the game right where you left off", it says.
    Nintendo has confirmed a Wii U release date of November 18 in the US, and a Wii U release date of November 30 in Europe. The company has set the US Wii U price at $299 for the basic model, while the UK Wii U price starts at £230.

    by Published on November 2nd, 2012 22:24
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    Having debuted its debut UK trailer late last month, Nintendo has aired its first Wii U commercial in the US.
    As you might expect, the colourful short concentrates on explaining the functionality of the device and attempting to show the various gameplay options that the second controller offers.
    The Wii U launches in the US in a little over two weeks on November 18th.It then arrives in Europe and Australia on November 30th before making its Japanese entrance on December 8th.
    Here’s the video:

    by Published on November 1st, 2012 22:40
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    One of Nintendo's goals with the Wii U is to win back hardcore gamers who turned their noses up at the casual-friendly Wii. With the Wii U's touchscreen-sporting Game Pad, Gearbox Software president Randy Pitchford thinks Nintendo at least has the right hardware for the job.
    "This is the best controller Nintendo's ever made for making an FPS," Pitchford toldJoystiq recently. "This is the best controller Nintendo has ever given us for playing hardcore games."
    Pitchford added that the Game Pad is perfect for Gearbox's current Wii U project, Aliens: Colonial Marines. The screen itself will be used as a motion tracker similar to the ones seen in the actual Aliens movies. As for Game Pad functionality being mirrored on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with those systems' second-screen features (SmartGlass and PS Vita cross-play, respectively), Pitchford was skeptical, saying not all implementations of the Wii U pad would work well on the competitors' technology.
    "With the Wii U, [Nintendo] committed themselves to this promise," Pitchford said. "So the link is direct, fast, and immediate. Things like SmartGlass and Vita, they appreciate the value of the promise so they're making the promise. But they're not in with such commitment."
    Aliens: Colonial Marines is set to launch February 12 on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. The Wii U edition is scheduled for the system's "launch window," which Nintendo has extending through March 2013.
    by Published on October 31st, 2012 00:16
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    Nintendo is pushing its digital distribution efforts with the Wii U, today announcing an incentive program to get gamers downloading content for the new console. Those who purchase the deluxe Wii U hardware package (which costs an extra $50 but includes 32GB of internal storage instead of 8GB) will get a 10 percent rebate on goods downloaded from the Wii U eShop.
    The example given by Nintendo is that a game like New Super Mario Bros. U purchased in the eShop for $59.99 would earn 599 points. For every 500 points earned, Nintendo will give users a code for $5 in store credit for the Wii U or 3DS eShops. Nintendo will launch a website for the promotion in December that will allow users to see their points balance and receive codes to be redeemed for credit.
    Points will be earned for all digital purchases on the Wii U deluxe hardware through 2014, as well as download codes for full games purchased through standard retailers. Codes will then have to be obtained from the site by the end of March 2015, with those codes further redeemed for the actual eShop credit by the end of June 2015.
    The Wii U launches November 18 in a basic white set ($299) and a black deluxe package ($349). Beyond the differences in system color and internal memory, the deluxe package also includes a copy of the NintendoLand minigame collection and stands for the console and controller.


    by Published on October 30th, 2012 22:46
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    Nintendo is deliberately slowing the release of first party Wii U titles to help extend the console’s sales into 2013.
    That’s the admission of boss Satoru Iwata who has told investors that the machine is guaranteed to do well at launch – the challenge, he believes, is maintaining any potential sales spike.
    “If you look at how pre-orders are doing at the moment, it is not an exaggeration to say that Wii U is sure to sell well in this holiday season,” he stated. “But we realise the biggest challenge is to make sure that Wii U sells well even in the next year after the holiday season, and we are working on that too.
    “Nintendo tends to release too many titles at the launch of a hardware system and as a result suffers a drop in new games for quite some time after launch, and for the Wii U launch, we are being very careful not to let it happen.”
    Instead, Nintendo is letting third parties shoulder more of the responsibility for generating hype during the launch window with Nintendo ready to pick up the baton and roll with it into the New Year.
    “Fortunately, third-party publishers overseas are launching many titles for us this time, and we were able to push back the release of some of the titles that we had originally intended to release as launch titles until next year,” he added.
    “We will continue to supply software to provide new content that consumers will talk about even after January. The combination of these two things is what we think will keep our momentum going after January next year.”

    by Published on October 29th, 2012 22:39
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    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has reiterated his company's strategy in an era when smartphone devices are increasingly prevalent.
    Speaking to investors at a financial gathering last Wednesday, Iwata declared that "no dedicated gaming systems are worthy of existence unless our games give consumers unparalleled fun".He made the claim whilst responding to a general question on smartphone games, in which he suggested that quality of content is the best way Nintendo can battle the rock-bottom prices of iOS and Android apps.
    Iwata also said Nintendo survived the advent of mobile phone gaming at the turn of the century, and that the same feat would be achieved again.
    "When i-mode for cell phones started in Japan, many people said that, as application software including games worked on cell phones, everyone would play games only with their cell phones because they are practical items they always carry, which would eventually eliminate handheld gaming devices," he began.
    "We were asked about this matter many times and answered that we would try something that cannot be done on cell phones. After that, we were able to see the positive result of the Nintendo DS system.
    "On the other hand, it can be said that the fact that Nintendo DS was able to demonstrate the new potential of touch screens, and as a result, created our new rivals called smart devices, I really feel that history is repeating itself."
    In the same investor Q&A the Nintendo president said he expects Wii U to be profitable in the next fiscal year.

    by Published on October 29th, 2012 22:29
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    Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata has said the firm is working on a new Nintendo Direct broadcast that will clarify details for the Wii U's Miiverse feature.
    Nintendo is yet to fully unveil Wii U's online capabilities - despite the console's launch being just weeks away - but an upcoming Nintendo Direct video will seek to paint a clearer picture."'Miiverse' is a new network service which connects those who play games, and we plan to start it at the same time as the launch of the Wii U system," said Iwata in a recent investor's Q&A.
    "As it would take me a long time to elaborate on 'Miiverse' here, we are currently preparing a Nintendo Direct video to explain about it in detail before the launch of Wii U," he confirmed.
    He went on to elaborate a little on further MiiVerse details, explaining that Wii U games will not require specific development to support Miiverse.
    "Without any specific development work, all Wii U games are supposed to be able to invoke 'Miiverse' without being shut down and utilize basic functions of 'Miiverse'. Further development work in a game could create more opportunities for communication and empathy among users," said Iwata.
    He went on to reiterate Nintendo's plans to expand Miiverse to other platforms, including non-Nintendo devices. "As 'Miiverse' is not confined to dedicated gaming platforms and will be available on smart devices in the near future, we hope that, even on a train where many people are using smart devices, you will know how your gaming friends are enjoying their games."
    Elsewhere in the Q&A, Iwata told investors that its Wii U business will not become profitable until the next fiscal year.

    by Published on October 29th, 2012 22:03
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    It's been said that gamers buy Nintendo consoles for Nintendo games, but the Mario maker is hoping they'll be happy with fewer first-party titles than normal for the Wii U's launch. In a post-earnings Q&A with investors released in English today, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said Nintendo is trying to avoid a post-launch release slump by rationing out its first-party Wii U titles.
    "Nintendo tends to release too many titles at the launch of a hardware system and as a result suffers a drop in new games for quite some time after launch, and for the Wii U launch, we are being very careful not to let it happen," Iwata told investors. "Fortunately, third-party publishers overseas are launching many titles for us this time, and we were able to push back the release of some of the titles that we had originally intended to release as launch titles until next year."
    "Nintendo tends to release too many titles at the launch of a hardware system..."
    Satoru Iwata

    However, Iwata believes third-party publishers will step in to help address the need for high-quality software in the interim.
    "I think that the ratio between first-party titles and third-party titles this time will be drastically different from then," Iwata said. "The first-party ratio was very high at first for both the Nintendo DS and Wii systems, and this trend has continued until now for Wii in Japan. For Nintendo DS worldwide and Wii overseas, the third-party ratio gradually increased as time went by. I expect that it will be high at a relatively early stage for Wii U."
    Iwata also addressed the company's growing digital business, saying he expects revenues from full-game downloads to be "totally different" from when they were limited to Virtual Console and WiiWare sales, and added that Nintendo should disclose an outlook for digital sales so investors can recognize it as a growth area for the company. Continuing on the topic of digital revenues, Iwata said Nintendo is being selective with how it rolls out downloadable content into its games. While New Super Mario Bros. 2's new levels have received a good response according to Iwata, he said the company will only pursue DLC for games where it will help build long-term relationships with its consumers.
    "For example, some might say that it would be unbelievably profitable to provide paid add-on content for Animal Crossing: New Leaf, but we were concerned that a game in which you enjoy yourself more by the power of money would not be suitable, and we decided to avoid such a feature after an intensive discussion with the development team," Iwata said.

    by Published on October 28th, 2012 01:00
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    It isn't unprecedented, exactly, but the announcement made by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata earlier this week concerning the Wii U's pricing was momentous nonetheless. "Rather than determining a price based on its manufacturing cost, we selected one that consumers could consider to be reasonable," he stated during the firm's latest financial briefing - or, in short, Nintendo is set to launch its new console at a price lower than its cost of manufacturing.
    "Today's market, flooded with smartphones, tablets and other perfectly game-capable devices, simply won't support a profit-making, high cost console"

    This is a compelling sign of just how difficult market conditions have become for Nintendo. For years, the company has been pulling off a pretty remarkable trick - competing with bigger rivals like Microsoft and Sony, and even beating them, all while refusing to be drawn into the business model of selling hardware below cost. Other hardware manufacturers routinely launch their hardware at loss-making price points, recouping investment through software sales and betting that manufacturing costs will fall faster than price cuts (not a bet that always pays off, at least not at first). Nintendo does no such thing. It makes a profit when you buy a console, and makes more profit every time you buy a game.
    Or at least, that's how things used to be. The first big crack to appear in Nintendo's dam came with the price cut to the 3DS in early 2011, which brought the system's price tag below its cost of manufacture only a matter of a few months after launch. By all accounts, Nintendo's high unit sales and talent for dropping manufacturing costs has now reined this situation in, with the 3DS back at or below break-even, but a precedent had been set. Now the Wii U will break with Nintendo's traditional business model entirely, launching from the outset at a loss-making price point.
    I have no doubt that such a move was debated hotly in Nintendo's Kyoto boardrooms, but in the end, it's reality that has won out. Today's market, flooded with smartphones, tablets and other perfectly game-capable devices, simply won't support a profit-making, high cost console - and some of Nintendo's critics would do well to recall that Sony and Microsoft will also be announcing deeply loss-making next generation hardware in due course. This is how consoles are sold; the wonder, in some ways, is that Nintendo has held on to its ability to sell at above cost for such a long time.
    "People have been buying up the Yen in bulk, driving up value relative to other currencies, and making life very hard for export-driven companies like Nintendo and Sony"

    It's worth thinking about the factors which have driven Nintendo's decision - which have, in effect, backed the company into such a corner. The wider market picture is definitely a part of it; this Christmas, Nintendo will not just be competing with rival game systems, but also with iOS, Android and Windows Phone / Windows 8 devices aplenty. Christmas lists (and birthday lists, and shopping lists of all kinds throughout the whole year) only have space for so many devices. Nintendo has always had a wide view of its competition; many years ago, it already understood that it wasn't necessarily competing with Sony so much as it was competing with "watching TV" or "playing board games" or "going out". Now it understands that it must jostle for mindshare with devices like the iPad, the Nexus 7 or the Galaxy Note. They don't do the same things as a Wii U, of course, but Nintendo of all companies can see that they're still powerful competition. Moreover, since Nintendo's software prices remain very high compared to the low-cost or free-to-play business models which dominate on phones and tablets, device pricing is a vital weapon in this battle.
    That's the factor we're all going to talk about, inevitably, because Nintendo's newly aggressive stance on pricing matches up with an ongoing industry narrative - the squeezing of dedicated consoles by powerful multifunction devices. However, we should be careful not to overstate that side of the argument, because the fact is that while Nintendo is undoubtedly feeling heat from the changing market, it's only a mild glow of warmth compared to the sweltering, searing heat wave that is the perilous state of the Japanese export economy.
    Oh god, you think, this sounds dull. It is - far more dull than an exciting narrative about a former reliable pillar of the industry being felled by advancing technology and market change. It has the benefit, however, of being quantifiable. Nintendo reckons it lost ¥23.2 billion due to Yen exchange rate problems over the past six months - that's about $290 million. That figure only hints, however, at the sheer lack of options which Nintendo has on pricing due to the strong Yen. On its balance sheet, the value of every Euro or Pound the company earns is only about 60 per cent of what it was a few short years ago; the value of every dollar has pretty much halved. Local consumers can't ...
    by Published on October 28th, 2012 00:58
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    On face value, a shortage of day one Wii U stock will be frustrating to all retailers and publishers hoping for a smooth launch day and plenty of hardware and software sales.
    But the truth is that, managed right, a tighter flow of hardware can avoid any money lost to overstocks or hasty price cuts and bundles.
    Do we really want a repeat of the 3DS launch, which overestimated what the launch weekend would offer? While that format has hit its stride now, can anyone in the trade really say they want to relive what happened in March last year?
    No, what we want is another ‘Wii moment’, that hard-to-hit sweet spot between supply and demand.
    Nintendo’s honesty in the stock situation this week is at least preparing the trade for what we really want to happen: for a new machine to prove popular. It’s a long time, after all, since this industry has had to cope a console shortage.
    Of course, some people with vested interests want you to think that there will be no such thing as a console shortage.
    Apparently, demand has been ruined by tablets and online games, and consoles are on the way out.
    They might have a bit of a point. The word ‘Xbox’ being quietly repositioned to mean a broad online offering, not just a physical box is one example in their favour. SingStar transforming into a free offering is another.
    And next week, we’re dedicating a huge chunk of the magazine to the free-to-play market and how it is having an impact at the heart of the industry.
    But I still can’t help but think the draw of something quirky, or innovative, or simply something you can touch will never lose its appeal.
    It’s this lowercase-f X factor that Nintendo always banks on that drove the smartphone boom, and is helping matters closer to home. Skylanders, for instance, had a strong opening weekend last week, with decent sales likely to come. Even video games’ fair-weather profits-first friend
    WH Smith is stocking the game’s collectable action figures.
    I think the free-to-play set – either unfamiliar, lacking understanding, or being simply uninterested in console and physical goods – fail to understand this. And that will always be a strength that video games and physical retail have, when handled right.