The hottest rumor in the tech industry was confirmed by Nintendo Monday: we can expect a new Nintendo Wii unit, that will support high definition graphics, next year.
The current Wii unit, which was a smashing success, has sold more than 86 million units in five years. Of late, though, the Wii-mote motion sensor technology that helped fuel its popularity has been copied and surpassed by Microsoft (hands free Kinect) and Sony (PlayStation Move), and both companies offer HD graphics via their current console systems.
Nintendo announced via a news release that it will demo a playable version of the system at the E3 Expo June 7-9 in Los Angeles. Bloomberg quoted Nintendo President Satoru Iwata as saying the system will “propose a new approach to home video game consoles.”
Satoru said “it’s difficult to make 3D images a key feature, because 3D televisions haven’t obtained wide acceptance yet.”
So where does that leave us?
Well, along with the hot rumors of Nintendo’s new system have been similar rumors of a new Nintendo game controller. Just as it set the industry on its ear with the Wii-mote -- which allows you to use it to mimic real-life motions like throwing a ball or swinging a club -- several tech sites have reported on a new 8-button controller.
The new controller, reports say, would be 6.2 inches big -- bigger than those XL Android cell phones out there -- have two analog sticks and a camera. The new system would support the new controller as well as the old games and old Wii-mote joystick.
Using that big controller, gamers would be able to send and receive wireless data to the console, snap photos to put into games. It’s similar to what we saw years ago with Sega’s Dreamcast system. Imagine playing, say, Madden football and instead of the game play options coming up on the screen, allowing you and your opponent to see them, they would only pop up on your controller.
Having that kind of depth would add true realism to all games, and it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine that the controller could be a handheld gaming device of its own, though that might compete with the company’s 3DS hand held system.
And where does that leave Sony and Microsoft? The PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 are getting a little long in the tooth now and there’s been no official word on an update. Rumor mills have speculated Microsoft plans to support 360 until 2015 but that doesn’t mean it will wait to produce a new console until then.
I can’t imagine those two giants would let Nintendo hit the market with a new whiz-bang gadget and get major developers behind them, delivering versions of games that Sony and Microsoft couldn’t match.
Should be an interesting next 12 months in the gaming industry.