September 13, 2012, 12:30 PM — Nintendo announced its Wii U launch plans for the US today. November 18th is the launch date (that's a Sunday launch date, as is typical for Nintendo releases). The Wii U comes in two flavors. A Basic package that contains a White Wii U and controller and has 8 GB of storage space will sell for $299.99. A Deluxe package contains a Black Wii U and controller, and bumps the storage up to 32 GB and also adds a pack-in game (Nintendo Land), a charging stand for the tablet controller, a stand for the console and membership into a points program that'll offer rewards for frequent purchasers of downloadable content.
Although Nintendo shared info on a few new games today, the big reveal was Nintendo TVii (their spelling) which initially struck me as a service similar to Google TV. With Nintendo TVii you can (using the tablet controller) search for TV content across Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Video On Demand, as well as on your DVR and live television. Once you find something to watch, you can start it playing via the controller and then as the show plays, use the controller as a second screen to talk about the show to your friends, recap what's happened earlier in the show, and things of that nature.
There are a few questions I have surrounding Nintendo TVii. First, the presentation used the word "DVR" but on-screen we kept seeing "Tivo" which begs the question of whether or not only Tivo DVRs will be supported.
Second which cable providers will support live TV? Microsoft's Xbox 360 currently supports live TV from Verizon's FiOS network, and On Demand TV from Comcast, so those two providers are likely candidates for Nintendo TVii but what about all the others?
[Update: Engadget spoke to Nintendo director of strategic partnership Zach Fountain who told them that Nintendo TVii would work with "all" cable and dish carriers in the US and Canada. So there you go. Nintendo has pulled off what Microsoft either couldn't, or didn't want to, do.]
Or am I over-thinking things? Perhaps when you're using Nintendo TVii you'll have your television set to show live TV and your Wii U tablet is just acting as a remote. In that case partnerships could be much easier to achieve since many cable providers already offer 'remote' apps for smartphones. Though then how would you see content from streaming services like Netflix? No, content has to be flowing through the Wii U, which means streaming live TV through the console, which means some kind of buy-in from providers.
As to the 'second screen' aspect of Nintendo TVii, some stations are already experimenting with this sort of thing using an iPad or Android device, and Microsoft will roll out Smart Glass which offers the same kind of thing this fall.
I'm sure all will be revealed in the next few months.
Nintendo finished the show with another look at games. They claim 50 titles will arrive during the "launch window" which extends until the end of March. Highlighted games included Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Skylanders Giants and Bayonetta 2 (a Wii U exclusive). Of course they also showed off Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Brothers U which were both confirmed as launch titles
So gamers, what do you think? Is $300 a fair price? Are you going to pre-order or wait to see how things shake out? Any of those titles excite you? Leave a comment!
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