In my last blog post, I took a look at what the next DS might be and what I'd like to see from it. With this post, I'm gonna take a look at the next Wii and where Nintendo should go with that. This is very much a continuation of the DS post for reasons you'll see in a moment, so if you haven't had a chance to read that yet I'd definitely recommend checking it out here
. With that out of the way, let's do a hypothetical spec run down. Because those are always fun. Just like the Wiimote, I highly doubt we'll see this thing sold in a box with the next Wii. WiiU Successor:
Fall 2017 - $300/$400
-CPU: 2x quad core x86-64 AMD APU
-GPU: AMD R7 400 series (shared memory)
--Expresso & Latte processors from WiiU for BC
-Memory/Storage: 8GB DDR3, 1TB HDD + SDXC Miscellaneous:
-802.11ac, BT 4.0, Ethernet, 4x USB 3.0
-Included wireless Infrared Sensor Bar
-Optical discs 25/50GB (SL/DL) in size
-Core bundle comes with new Pro Controller
-Premium bundle comes with DS successor Controller Inputs:
-Concave analog sticks (2x)
-Analog stick buttons (2x)
-Plus d-pad (8-way)
-Face buttons (4x)
-Shoulder buttons (2x)
-Analog triggers (2x)
-Function buttons (3x)
-Accelerometer, gyro, compass
-NFC reader on controller
For those of you who have been keeping up with the "Fusion" rumors and some of the comments Nintendo have been making about tying together consoles and handhelds in some way, this more or less follows that line of thinking. As such, I think it would be very wise for the next Wii and DS to both use the same core operating system, one designed for ARM and one designed for x64, on top of using a unified account system and online infrastructure. Not only would this make development and support easier, but it would tie the two devices together and help them promote each other, thus bringing you further into the Nintendo ecosystem and buying more games. Do I think Nintendo is going in this direction? Yes. Will it look anything like this? No.
But the ties need to go beyond the UI and the online systems. There's been a lot of debate over the role of the GamePad and what Nintendo could have done differently with it. Some argue that selling it separately would mean no developers would support it. Others counter by noting that outside developers still dropped WiiU even with the bundled GamePad. So here's my solution: make the new DS and the new GamePad one in the same. Rather than asking people to spend an extra $100 on a console for a special controller, why not let them use that handheld as
the special controller if they want to?
If you launch the new DS a year ahead of the new Wii (assuming Nintendo plays its cards right), you could be looking at 5-10M people who already own the new Wii's controller before the thing is even released. For them, the barrier of entry is suddenly much lower than it otherwise would have been for these second screen experiences. And since the next DS would likely sell way better than any peripheral ever would, the debate over developers wanting to support something that not everyone has is significantly mitigated. And if they don't have one yet, you still sell the premium version of the console that comes with this DS at a discount. About as good as console/handheld connectivity has ever gotten with Nintendo.
Would everyone have the new DS along with their new Wii? No. And that's honestly how it should be. Not everyone wants a companion device, and that's totally fine. That's why you'd still ship with a cheaper controller only SKU. But to expand the potential second screen installed base even further, why not allow consumers to use devices like the Tegra Shield, Wikipad, Archos Gamepad, or any other Android or Windows device with a controller attachment of some sort too? It wouldn't be a DS, but it would be another justification for publishers to use those second screen features on the next Wii without Nintendo forcing an increased barrier of entry cost on everyone
I don't think the Wii-DS connectivity should just go one way, however. Having the DS enhance the Wii with second screen experiences is great, but why not let the Wii enhance the DS with your television? Video out for portables is something that's been toyed around with in the past (the Game Boy Player and PSP Slim spring to mind), but it's never a great option. You're either tethered by a wire or you're using a second controller, which would completely defeat the point for something like a DS. It is
a controller, and that's what it should be doing: controlling. So why not let your Wii play your DS games? Doing video out from your DS shouldn't take a $250+ mod. Why not use your Wii for that?
The unified account system is a major part of what makes this possible. If you have the physical game cart in your DS or you have a digital copy in your purchase history, you can download and play a version of that DS game running in an emulator on your Wii natively outputting in high definition. Not only would the game look better than any video out solution, but you'd still have the DS unit and the bottom screen to play these titles how they were meant to be played, all with near zero latency. In short, it's like the WiiU GamePad but in reverse.
Looking beyond the dual screen stuff, I think Virtual Console is something that desperately needs to be addressed with these new systems. Not only are prices desperately in need of a drop (NES/GB - $3, SNES/GBC - $4, N64/GBA - $6, GC/DS - $10), but everything needs to be 100% cross buy. That means across console/handheld lines along with generational ones. The double dipping needs to stop, already. If the next DS becomes the indie machine I think it will be (alongside the Nintendo retail exclusives of course), than optional cross buy needs to be enabled for eShop games as well. To play this same NES ROM on both WiiU and 3DS, it cost $10. What gives, Nintendo?
And let's get to the elephant in the room: the third parties. When the WiiU launched, it should have had every major retail third party release that came to the PS3 and 360 the second half of 2012. Of the ones it got, most were overpriced or inferior to their console counterparts. This can't happen again. If Nintendo needs to offer to take on the porting cost themselves, so be it. If the next Wii launches in 2017, every PS4 and XB1 game releasing that holiday needs to be there. Third party games bring in licensing revenue, and that's how you keep a console afloat until the installed base is big enough where you can live largely on your exclusives. That's also how you avoid three straight fiscal year losses. Nintendo would be wise not to do that again. Having basically the same internal hardware as your competition will definitely help with that.
There you have it. My vision for Nintendo's hardware future. Not sure how much of this will come to pass or if this is even something they're interested in doing. But to me, this would help the next Wii and DS start strong and stay healthy. I don't see Nintendo ever repeating the Wii/DS dominance they had in the previous generation, and it's probably unlikely they'll ever have a hyper competitive SNES-Genesis style generation again either. But they can be profitable, and they can keep their fans happy making the quality experiences they've been known for. That's all you can really ask for from Nintendo at the end of the day. I'm sure Nintendo wants nothing more than to get back to this. I do too.
So, what do you think? Am I crazy, or is this not a completely terrible idea? I'd love to hear your thoughts below, and if you like what you read please give this a heart/upvote. Thanks =)
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