I am not a gamer, but I have a Wii. And I hate to admit this, but most of the time it sits in the basement collecting dust. Now, when I was younger all my friends and I would play Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 for hours, just hoping to beat the next level. The trouble is with the proliferation of connected devices such as smartphones and tablets, it seems there are too many other devices vying for my attention these days.
That’s why when I first heard about the new Wii U at this year’s past CES, I became excited for the next generation of gaming. And now it is official. The new system will be in stores on November 18 for $299.99 for Wii U Basic and $349.99 for Wii U Deluxe.
With the gaming system, one of the big differences is the Wii U GamePad—a controller that has a 6.2-inch touchscreen that allows for viewing of gameplay on both the TV and the GamePad as well as traditional button controls and two analog sticks. It also features motion control, a front-facing camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, rumble features, a sensor bar, a stylus, and support for NFC (near-field communication).
Yes, NFC. NFC is included in many smartphones and can be used to enable innovations such as the mobile wallet. With NFC, the GamePad will be able to communicate wirelessly with objects that are held above it, allowing for new possibilities for games in the future. While the GamePad has support for NFC, the games with NFC won’t be available until next year. One example of a game that would lend itself well to NFC is Skylanders.
For Nintendo, this was the next logical step in gaming. If it wanted to remain competitive with tablets and other connected devices, it needed to bring those capabilities to its system.
But beyond the GamePad, Nintendo TVii is another interesting move for the gaming giant. TVii will allow users to find, watch, and engage with TV shows, movies, and sports programming from the Wii U GamePad, taking TV watching to a whole new level.
While the Wii U GamePad and TVii certainly put Nintendo in the running for one of the connected devices on top of this year’s holiday gift list, does the gaming giant have what it takes to continue to remain innovative in a world where a wide array of connected devices are taking over our homes, cars, and offices?
Certainly Nintendo has its eyes set on the future of gaming. For example, earlier this year, Nintendo was granted a patent for a software emulator that imitates the game from a handheld gaming platform on other devices such as smartphones or seat displays on airplanes. How can it work? The software emulator pushes the display that you would normally see on the console to a different screen such as a smartphone or a seat display on an airplane or train.
As the lines begin to blur between our TV sets, tablets, and gaming systems, it becomes more challenging as a consumer to decide which devices to have in our homes—and which devices to purchase for loved ones this holiday season. And so I ask you, will you buy the new Wii U? Or will you turn to another device altogether for gaming and entertainment in the home?