|Nintendo reveals Wii U Gamepad|
Monday, 04 June 2012 15:00
Nintendo got a head-start on the flurry of announcements due to come out of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this week, showcasing the final version of the new Wii U controller and detailing a new social and online strategy.
As tablets continue to shake up traditional gaming, the new controller – named the Wii U Gamepad – marks an attempt by Nintendo to bridge the gap between traditional Wii motion game play and gaming on tablets.
The Gamepad, unveiled by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata on Sunday, boasts a pressure-sensitive touch-screen as well as traditional buttons and a gyroscope and accelerometer. The Gamepad also has a built-in NFC reader/writer – Nintendo is expected to detail the different use cases during E3 this week.
In short video clips included in the Web cast, Nintendo showed how the Gamepad could be used to continue game play while the TV is being used for something else. When being used together with the TV screen, the Gamepad was also shown to add a different dimension to game play, with different views and added functionality.
"Some people may wonder if Wii U is a simple evolution of Wii or something completely different. I think maybe the best answer is both," said Iwata.
A key feature of the Gamepad is a home theatre remote application that allows users to use the device as a remote control for the television. According to Iwata, the Wii U Gamepad makes the relationship between family and game machine, game machine and TV, and TV and Internet richer.
Another announcement made during the live-stream was the new Miiverse online service, which acts as both a social and content network for Wii users.
“It's a network communication system that is as native to Wii U as the Wii U Gamepad,” said Iwata, adding that it can be activated at any time even during gameplay. Iwata acknowledged the concept of a video game player network is not new, but added that he believes there are features that make Miiverse distinctive from competitor networks.
“In typical fashion, communication between the Miis can occur with simple text messaging; however, we believe the touchpad on the Gamepad will make some difference. Not only does the touch-screen make the typing simpler, but you also may find that having this screen right in your hands makes reading messages easier,” said Iwata, adding that Nintendo sees the small screen on the Gamepad as a social window.
Miiverse also features a video chat function, and allows users to share pictures and other content. The network will also be made available across devices – including smartphones and tablets.
A Reuters report quotes wholesale trader at Iwai Cosmo Securities, Hajime Nakajima, as saying: “Nintendo is falling behind its rivals in the online gaming area. The idea of entering the field is good, but the question is whether the company can generate profits.”
After revealing the Wii U a year ago, Nintendo stock has more than halved, and is currently well below its level when the Wii was first launched in 2006. This has led to speculation that Nintendo realises the need to look beyond traditional hardware sales to online content delivery to drive revenue. The company will need to play catch up as it begins to compete with rival networks such as PlayStation 3, Xbox and even iTunes.
The gaming giant is set to make further announcements at E3 on Tuesday and Wednesday. The presentations will be live-streamed via the Nintendo Facebook page.
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