[Update: April 25th, 2011 - Nintendo has now confirmed that they'll be showing a new console at E3 this June.]
Last week we first heard some solid-sounding rumors about Nintendo revealing a new home-based gaming console at this year's E3 show in June. Nintendo hasn't budged as far as confirming or denying these rumors (of course) but that hasn't seemed to stop the flow of unofficial information.
So, keeping in mind all of this might be false information, let's see what we've got.
IGN posted a treasure-trove of info yesterday. Let's start with a name or two. IGN says the code name is Project Cafe and for a final shipping name, Nintendo is leaving the "Wii" name behind and considering "Stream."
I don't want to read too much into a rumored name, but you'd think a console called Stream would have pretty strong Internet connectivity, wouldn't you? That's an area Nintendo has really been lax on in the past. Pure speculation on my part but I just wonder what, if anything, will be streaming to this new console? Video? Gameplay? A strong online multiplayer component?
IGN says Stream (I'm going with that name for now) will cost $350-$400 and is being made by Foxconn who plan to ship from the factory this October. Now the first rumors said this was going to be a 2012 device. IGN speculates that Nintendo might just build stock for an early 2012 release date, something I predicted as a possibility in my E3 piece last week. We shouldn't totally discount a holiday 2011 launch, but that seems very, very aggressive to me.
The Stream will be more powerful than an Xbox 360 or a PS3, which seems fairly obvious. You don't bring out a new console that can't outperform tech from 5 or 6 years ago. I'm not sure why so many gamers seem amazed at the idea that a 2012 console should out-perform a 2005 console.
The other big area of discussion has surrounded the design of the Stream controllers. For controller chat let's refer to Kotaku's Stephen Totilo who says, in addition to motion-based controllers like the current Wii Remote, the Stream will have a twin-stick controller with a 6.2" touch screen on it. This controller will also have a camera and 8 hardware buttons. (It sounds a bit like the controller will resemble the Sony NGP, doesn't it?)
Totilo speculates on some uses for such a controller, and as he notes we've seen a primitive form of this kind of thing back on the Sega Dreamcast. But it would be nice to have a 'local' touchscreen for controlling a game on the TV across the room. I'm thinking about sorting inventory in an RPG, for instance, while you use the dual sticks to control your onscreen avatar in the world.
That said, I hate to be a skeptic but how are they going to pack in this wireless touchscreen controller and keep the price of the console down to $350-$400? Does that sound like a challenge to anyone else? I suppose a lot would depend on whether the touchscreen was capacitive or resistive, what the resolution was and basically how much power was on-board. Hmm, maybe the Stream name comes from the console streaming gameplay to the controller, rather like OnLive can stream gameplay to a very low powered computer?
Again, this is all fairly wild speculation, but it seemed like a fun topic to ease into Easter weekend on. At this point I'd just love to hear Nintendo confirm that they are indeed bringing a new console to E3.