updated 11:42 pm EDT, Sun June 3, 2012
More standard controller aimed at core gamers
Nintendo is letting details on its forthcoming Wii U console trickle out in the days leading up to the Electronic Entertainment Expo; and now the company has revealed a revamped online strategy for the Wii U. The forthcoming game console will offer a range of connected features, centering around the "Miiverse" social and content network.
The Miiverse will function as a sizable expansion of the Wii's existing Mii Plaza. The "Mii universe" will show Mii characters gathered around game icons and allow players to message players they don't know. The message system will include a "spoiler" checkbox, preventing players from revealing information on games when a player doesn't want it.
The console's messaging system will also enable players to send images and drawings to one another, likely using the Wii U's new tablet-style Gamepad controller. In addition to the tablet controller, which has undergone some alterations since its initial unveiling last year, Iwata showed off a new "Pro Controller," one very similar in design to the Xbox 360's controller. The Pro Controller appears to be geared for the core gamer demographic, however it lacks the Gamepad's touchscreen for social features accessed directly from the controller.
Nintendo is betting big on the novel interface for the Wii U, and the console's anticipated debut later this year is expected to figure greatly into the company's future. The first-generation Wii debuted to phenomenal sales and greatly expanded the gaming market thanks to its casual appeal. In the last year or so, though, sales for the Wii have flagged, with lackluster performance blamed on the system's aging hardware and a lack of big name titles. Nintendo's financial fortunes have suffered as the Wii's popularity has waned, and the company posted its first annual loss in April.
Should the company make good on all it has promised for the console, the Wii U will have greatly expanded capabilities over its predecessor. Nintendo has already announced that the Wii U will feature digital downloads for select titles. Also, a leaked internal video for Rayman Legends showed that the console's tablet controller will feature near-field communication (NFC) capabilities.