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Nintendo CEO: Wii U will have ‘flexible’ online system, no Blu-ray, and one controller

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Image used with permission by copyright holder

A week after E3, buzz about the Wii U certainly shows no signs of slowing. Nintendo has published a translation of CEO Satoru Iwata’s E3 Q&A with analysts. The five pages are quite a read, but Iwata clarifies where Nintendo is coming from with its upcoming Wii U console, what audiences it plans to target, and some of its difficulties with the 3DS and Wii as of late.

We’ve compiled three of the most interesting answers below, which touch on Wii U issues including its online capabilities, lack of a DVD drive, and why Nintendo is only focusing on a single controller.

One controller

In short, yes. When asked what Nintendo’s plans are for bundling the controller and if the Wii U will support more than one touch controller, Iwata seems to indicate that the company’s next console will indeed be a one touch controller experience. “What I can say is that we are also thinking, as you imagined, that with one console you would get one of the new controllers as a complete set…Regardless of the technical question as to whether or not we could do that (use two of the new controllers), for the time being, we will focus on what we can do with a single new controller with the system.”

“In the future, we may look at what other opportunities there are for gameplay and, how having two of those controllers might create fun or interesting new styles of play, but of course in doing that, it would require a consumer to purchase an additional controller,” continued Iwata. “Therefore, we would need to carefully consider how we could create such an experience and, potentially, how we could ensure that there would be enough value within that experience for the consumer to accept that cost and make that purchase.”

DVD and Blu-ray

The Wii U will have neither. “Wii U does not have DVD or Blu-ray playback capabilities,” said Iwata. “The reason for that is that we feel that enough people already have devices that are capable of playing DVDs and Blu-ray, such that it didn’t warrant the cost involved to build that functionality into the Wii U console because of the patents related to those technologies.”

Wii U’s online “approach”

When asked about Nintendo’s online approach, Iwata was quite vague, but hinted at a less structured online platform than Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Sony’s PlayStation Network, where publishers could better create their own unique experiences.

“I think, in general, the online environment is changing quite rapidly,” explained Iwata. “So, what I have come to feel lately is that the idea of saying, “we are going to create this style of online structure and that we would like you, the developers, to fit into the online structure that we are creating” is perhaps already out-of-date.”

“I think that Nintendo’s past console business has often included this idea of a set and fixed online structure. So, I think that, going forward, the question is really to what degree Nintendo can create a more flexible system for its consoles. And, what we found at this point is that, as we discuss the online structure with different publishers, the things that the different publishers want to do are in fact seemingly rather different. Our current direction is how we can take the desires of the third parties and create a system that’s flexible enough to enable them to do the types of things that they might want to do.”

Iwata then commented directly on voice over IP and social networking services like Facebook, explaining that Nintendo needs to look into these features, but wants to leave it up to publishers just how and where they are implemented.

Unfortunately, we won’t learn more until later this year or early next. While we are fans of Xbox Live and Sony’s PSN (when it’s not being hacked), it will be interesting to see exactly what Iwata means by a “flexible” system. Hopefully it involves some kind of central network and the end of those dastardly friend codes.

(Image via Reuters)

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Jeffrey Van Camp
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