Ah Nintendo, the little games company that took off over the fence and hasn't looked back since. To say that Nintendo's recent success is surprising would be a massive understatement.
The have managed to tap into an audience that Microsoft and Sony can only dream of trying to reach - it really is quite amazing.
Of all the big players, Nintendo is in the enviable position of not actually needing to worry about releasing a new console - after all, when you're selling Wiis faster than stores can stock them, why bother spending more money on another console?
Having said that, we believe, given Nintendo's past hardware release trends, that a Wii 2 (or 1.5) may come sooner than expected- Nintendo Console Releases:
- Nintendo Entertainment System (1985)
- Game Boy (1989)
- Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1991)
- Nintendo 64 (1996)
- Nintendo Gamecube (2001)
- Nintendo DS/Lite/DSi (2004-2008)
- Wii (2006)
Sales since launch: NES: 61 million, Game Boy Family: approximately 200 million, SNES: 49 million, N64: 32 million, NGC: 21 million, DS Family: 77 million, Wii: 34 million
Predicted next move: 2010
Nintendo has shown that it's not afraid to tweak existing products - just look at all the Gameboy and DS iterations. This approach sees small innovations added to existing hardware. It's entirely possible that the Wii will receive similar treatment, particularly given that it falls somewhat behind the 360 and PS3 in terms of HD compatibility.
The Wii 2 will undoubtedly include DVD support, higher resolutions and more memory. Possibly a camera, microphone (although the recent Animal Crossing game introduces chat already) and much better online integration. So really, we're expecting a Wii upgrade rather than a fully fledged console.
However, and this is the kicker, Nintendo are never entirely predictable. When they revealed the Wii, most people thought it was doomed to fail. In many people's eyes it has, but it certainly hasn't from a financial perspective. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has been quoted thus when asked about Nintendo's next console (taken from several interviews):
"We are always preparing for the next hardware. We are under development... But the hardware is a kind of box that consumers reluctantly buy in order to play our games... Every hardware needs some revolutionary features. This time around, it happened to be we had a revolutionary user interface. Will it be the same for the next generation?
I really can't tell... It's natural for the current customer to expect Nintendo is going to once again do something different. If the people are expecting so many different things from Nintendo, it's going to be difficult for us to go beyond that expectation again."
So a Wii 2 is definitely in production, Nintendo aren't sure if they want to/need to surprise people anymore (rolling in money will do that to you) and...they'll probably just release an upgraded Wii like we're all expecting them to.
The question Nintendo need to answer is will the so-called casual gamers actually be interested in an upgraded version of the Wii? After all, old people and families are hardly going to care that much about HD resolutions and DVD playback - they just want to use this Wii Fit thing everyone's talking about on Today Tonight.
It really then becomes a case of trying to claw back the loyal gamers, many of whom now believe Nintendo has abandoned them in search of, well, profit. Nintendo can continue to sell bucketloads of consoles, as well as concentrate on their handheld output, and still be in a very comfortable position.
We think that they will upgrade the Wii, possibly even release another console sometime down the track. But for now their focus is on riding this current wave of success - and really, who can blame them?
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