Microsoft and Sony are rumored to be preparing to unveil their next gen consoles (the as of yet untitled NextBox and Ps4) at the next E3 convention. Nintendo already announced last year that they were going to reintroduce the Wii-U because too many people got confused and didn't realize it was a whole new console. The Wii-U is set to release this year around August. Since the rumors have been spreading about Microsoft and Sony's possible unveiling, fanboys have wasted no time professing doom and gloom for Nintendo. (BTW: I really think Microsoft should call their next console the Kinexbox)
Now, I'm a Nintendo fanboy through and through, but can I just remind people that even IF the Ps4 and NextBox ARE unveiled at this upcoming E3... they aren't going to be ready to ship to the consumer this year. At most, they'd come out next year, and probably late next year too. Unless Microsoft and Sony have been really good about keeping secrets (snicker) the chances of them being at the same development read-point as Nintendo is pretty slim.
What does this mean? Well from where I sit it means two things. First It means Nintendo is going to have a window of opportunity where they will be practically the only new console on the scene. They will also (finally) be able to accept cross-platform games from the 360 and Ps3, meaning less goofy low-budget knockoffs of popular games. It's still unclear how the launch of the Wii-U is going to impact the market. Nintendo is hoping to both win over the "hardcore" audience AND transition current casual Wii owners over to their new platform.
Second it means that Microsoft and Sony will get a good glimpse of both the hardware limitations of the Wii-U and how Nintendo markets it. If the paranoia surrounding the Wii's launch is any indication, I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft and Sony slap some variation of a Wii-U feature onto their consoles at the last minute to make their devices more enticing (kinda like Sony adding 6-axis support for their controllers even though it cost them rumble at launch).
As a Nintendo fan I feel a bit uneasy about all this. On one hand I want Nintendo to succeed, but on the other hand I question some of their business strategies. The name "Wii-U" is rather confusing and many people don't even think it's a new console. They just think it's an add-on to the already existing Wii. Also, if Nintendo is trying to win back "hardcore" audiences, why on earth are they calling it the Wii-U? The superficial "hardcore" audience that nintendo is going after are the same people who've already pre-determined that the name Wii itself is a sin to be avoided and associate anything casual with that name. Yes there are some big ticket titles like Batman which will be on the Wii-U... but I don't know if it will help win back the "hardcore" audiences.
There is also the worry about price. Since the Wii-U is going to be either graphically equal to, or better than, the Ps3 and 360 a lot of people are speculating that the Wii-U is going to be super expensive. Not only that, but the new controller features a HD ready touch screen. So naturally people are speculating that the device is going to be super expensive and professing doom and gloom because of how bad our economy is right now. Thing is... I think Nintendo is smart enough to figure a way to keep the price down. They've always done so in the past, so why would they stop now?
My theory is this. The device has ONE controller, the Wii-U touch screen tablet controller. While the device is compatible with the Wii's motion sensing controller, I think one of the key ways to avoid a high price is to simply not include one. After all, most of the people they want to convert over already own a Wiimote. When the Wii launched they didn't include a classic controller on the grounds that you could use your gamecube, right? Cutting out an additional wiimote controller would help reduce the cost quite a bit.
The device is also not going to be DVD or Blu-Ray ready. Nintendo has been very clear on this front, especially since Blu-Ray is owned by their competitor Sony. Not having a Blu-Ray player built in will help greatly reduce the price and licensing fees they would've had to pay. Not to mention, in this day and age with Netflix and streaming, having a Blu-Ray player built into the device isn't as much a necessity as some people seem to think it is. Using myself as an example, I noticed that my DVD collection stopped growing and even shrunk the minute I got an iPod and was able to both stream and download my movies.
The one thing which COULD be a price issue is an internal hard drive. When the Wii was released they were cutting costs left and right and I don't think they anticipated how big of a deal DLC and the Virtual Console would become. While they did eventually fix the issue by allowing SD cards, I don't know if they'd make the same mistake twice, especially since they're trying to cater to the HD hardcore crowd. I have no idea what sort of internal memory they're going to include, but if it's not enough memory I'm sure they'll find some way to include SD cards or memory sticks. I sincerely hope they don't resort to using proprietary memory cards like Sony's Vita does.
One more thing to keep the cost down... I know the tablet is meant to be a touch screen device on it's own... but Nintendo has been very keen on stressing that it streams data to the pad, meaning you can't take the pad too far away from the device before it stops working. If this is true then that means that a lot of the processing power for the touch screen controller could be done by the Wii-U itself and the data only being streamed to the screen. If that's true then there wouldn't really be a lot of expensive parts needed to make the controller, which would of course keep the cost down.
Alright I've kinda rambled on long enough. I don't know what else I wanted to say about this other than I think I'm gonna be pretty close in anticipating how Nintendo handles their next console. I'm sure there are a lot of technical details other people could explain in the comments below, and I fully acknowledge that I am not 100% up to date on a lot of things. Feel free to discuss this further.
Listening to: Anamanaguchi - Dawn Metropolis
Watching: MLP: FiM
Drinking: Water. I love Water!