November 16, 2011, 7:59 AM — Sometimes I come across rumors that just seem so odd and out there that I just have to share. Today is such a case.
We know Nintendo's next home console, the Wii U, is coming next year. I'm guessing late next year but there's no official date yet. And we know that Nintendo hasn't always been on top of things when it comes to connecting their consoles to the Internet. (Friend codes, anyone?) The Wii U is supposed to be different; it's supposed to embrace Internet gaming and socializing.
In the meantime, over here in the Western world, Electronic Arts is trying to set up a competitor to PC game download service Steam, called Origin. Thus far they seem to be struggling a bit since most gamers I know don't want online game stores to profligate because each one comes with its own client that you have to download and install. Of course Origin's struggles may end the day that Star Wars: The Old Republic ships and the only digital way to obtain it is via Origin, but that's a story for another day. Back to our rumor.
What if the chocolate that is the Wii U mixed with the peanut butter that is Origin? Would the two complement each other? EA brings its online expertise to Nintendo, and Nintendo helps bolster adoption of the Origin service. At least, that's what the rumor, which comes from Wiiugo says. Source? The network engineer friend of an EA intern. OK, so that's sketchy.
This could easily just be a ploy by the young Wiiugo site to get some attention (if so, it worked). To their credit they pitch the story as rumor, but think it sounds plausible.
My immediate thought was of Activision and other game publishers. Would they want to offer their titles digitally on the Wii U if the underlying system was run by Electronic Art's? I can't see Activision's lovable CEO Bobby Kotick going for that, can you?
But stranger things have happened. I'm also not sure it'd be a bad thing. Personally I'm getting tired of having to (generally) go out and buy a plastic disk before I can play a new console game. On the PC you can get almost everything digitally but on the consoles you're usually limited to smaller and/or older titles. (Sony throws us a bone on their Playstation Network every so often and offers simultaneous digital and plastic releases.)
If EA can help Nintendo bring out a console with an easy to use, reliable digital distribution service, I'm all for it. I'm sick of going to the store. I just want to sit on my couch and play games all day, darnit!
But I'll believe it, or at least start to believe it, when we start hearing rumors from more reputable sources.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.