Hey, I finally broke down and started a blog and what better way to kick off a blog than to talk about Nintendo's NYC Wii kick off event. It's a cold, rainy morning here at New York's Pier 59, but newly appointed Nintendo President Reggie Fis Aime is taking the podium. The conference is starting off slow, as we're getting the standard marketing bs about how awesome the DS is doing. Powerpoint slides are so exciting!
9:30 AM – Bombshell, Wii coming November 19, 2006 and for $249!
Reggie announces that the Wii is launching in America, November 19th, 2006, at $249. Reggie stressed that the Wii will come in one configuration, one color. Each box will contain a white Wii, one controller and one nunchuck, plus all the cables. Now Reggie just announced a new "audience expansion" game – Wii Bowling. Some guy is on stage demoing the game. Looks really cool, but unless it's under $20, I can't see myself purchasing. Reggie is back to talk about Wii Sports, it turns out it's going to be a single disk. The Wii will include Wii sports as a Pac-In. Wii sports will include Tennis, Golf, Boxing, Baseball, and Bowling.
So far the crowd is very interesting, at E3 press conferences people go ape over these type of announcements. Here in NY the attitude in the room was like, "ho, hum." Maybe it's becuase the audience here is strictly media (real media), and no real fanboys. Or maybe it's because it's a really crappy day that has dampened the mood in the room. But President Reggie didn't say "come on guys, it's Ridge Racer!" "Ridge Racer!!!"
Zelda and Excite Truck will be available at Launch. Madden NFL 07, Need for Speed Carbon, The Ant Bully, Call of Duty 3, Super Monkey Ball, Blazing Angels, Splinter Cell: double Agent, and a ton of other titles wil be available during launch.
President Reggie announced that games will cost $49.99. He announced a new menu system called "Wii Channels." He's talking about Audience Expansion and the DS again. The Wii Channel Menu will change the interface between TV Viewers and the Internet. The user will see a unique menu that will have 12 menus. The Wii Shop channel will be the Virtual Console. Games will cost 500 Wii Points for NES games, 1,000 Wii Points for SNES games, and 1,500 points for N64 games. 30 classic games will be available at launch. You can purchase 2,000 point cards at retail for $20.
Somone is demoing a channel called the Mii Channel where you can create avatars of yourself and your friends, or anyone else. The guy is showing us the character creation menu. Five minutes into this demo, I'm already bored with it and don't get the point. The Mii Channel almost seems like it'd be a virtual sims kind of channel. You can transfer your Mii's to your remote and they can also populate your games with these characters. Ok, now I'm kind of intrigued.
Now the guy is showing us the photo channel, which is a channel that displays your photos on your television. You simply take your SD card out of your digital camera and pop it into the SD slot on your Wii console. We are now watching a slideshow of the Nintendo office. The photo channel also supports video, and there are little puzzle games you can play with.
President Reggie is back to show us a couple of other channels. There's a weather and news channel. Hey a message board channel. "24 hour information can come to your console even as you sleep." There's an Internet Channel that will be based on the Opera Browser that essentially turns the Wii into a "free" web tv application. President Reggie calls this an "innovation," did he not hear of the failed WebTV experiment that started 10 years ago. Satisfy current players in new ways, reactivate former players, and expand the market, is Nintendo's mantra.
The Wii proposition – Revolutionary play, virtual console, biggest launch library, Wii Channels, Affordable Price. Ok Reggie is stating the obvious saying that "you all are dying to play the games." But before we get that, we have a Q and A. First Question is how much are additional remotes – the Wii remote will be $39.99 and the nunchuck will be $19.99. Zelda for the Game cube will launch December 11, 2006. Reaffirmed that the Internet capabilities will remain free and will ship 4 million units globally. For the Internet Channel, you'll have to pay for and download a Wii version of Opera. Not too enthused with the idea of paying for a browser.
No details announced regarding DS Connectivity. Metroid Prime 3 will be released in 2007 and not for launch window. Pokmon will be the first multiplayer game for the Wii and will launch in Japan. No American launch mentioned.
Overall not a bad showing for the big N, the games that will be available for launch, while not containing "eye-popping" graphics, do look on par with what the X-Box delivers and in terms of gameplay it'll definitely be unique. The great thing about the Wii is that it's forcing developers to think "outside the box." Not only because of the new control scheme, but they also have to take into account the Wii audience and Nintendo's mantra of creating unique play experiences.
The Wii still feels like it's going to be a stop gap console that will get redesigned and re-launched in a couple of years. It's also disappointing that Nintendo doesn't have a uniformed online multiplayer service. Their online console/channel is ripe with opportunities and for them not to include a multiplayer environment is strange.