‘Your & Our’ Thoughts On Project Café

Over the past several days I’ve written a series of articles on Nintendo’s mystery machine.  I’m not alone either, as virtually every videogame site in the world has chimed in with their opinions and ideas about the future console.  Even from within COE, several members have voiced their thoughts on where they think Nintendo will be heading with ‘Stream’ or whatever they decide to call the platform.  This article is meant to be your one-stop discussion destination.  If you have any ideas or thoughts about this new console, we want to hear them.  To begin, I’m going to talk a bit about what I believe Nintendo has in store for all of us with their latest offering.

To begin, a little background information.  For the past twenty years or so I’ve been blessed with insider information when it comes to the Big N.  That sort of fizzled away with the introduction of the DS and Wii.  Before that though, I was on top of my game.  I knew the N64 wasn’t going to have discs before almost anyone.  I knew a lot of the early details pertaining to the GameCube before they were finalized.  Heck I was even lucky enough to know about the StarCube, for those that are old enough to remember that name.  The point I’m trying to make is I don’t have any insider information anymore whatsoever.  Those days are long gone, and as such don’t take what I say here literally.  These ideas are simply those I have compiled together from reading a variety of other news outlets, and using my own common sense.  I really believe this is where Nintendo is headed, and after reading my thoughts you very well may be inclined to believe so as well.

We have no idea if this is the Stream SDK, but blurry pictures always make these sorts of article believable.

Nintendo has almost always been one generation behind in terms of technology.  That’s been true since the Nintendo 64 all the way until today.  Even the lovely GameCube was behind the times with the proprietary mini-DVD format, instead of using DVD-9 like everyone else was doing.  I think the same could be true for the Stream, as I’m going to call it from here on out.  What do I mean by that, only that I think Nintendo will once again place a lot of emphasis on areas outside of technology.  I do believe Full HD 1080p will be a selling feature this time around, but again, that only proves what I was just saying.  This should have been a selling feature for the Wii, not the follow-up.  3D could make it into the box, but it won’t be heavily pushed.  Regardless, I strongly believe that Nintendo will make full use of high-definition.  I also believe we could see some upscaling built-in for good measure.  Imagine playing Super Mario Galaxy in 1080p like that wonderful PC software that was released a little while back.  This would obviously be better because it would have actual Nintendo support.  I also believe WiiWare would be fully compatible and ready to go on launch day.  That’s right, official support for 1080p playback of all those NES and SNES classics.  Wonderful!

Does that mean Blu-ray will be a staple?  I’m leaning towards yes, only because the prices have come way down.  Technically I could see Nintendo sticking with DVD only because they seem to downplay all forms of technology, but personally I think that would be a mistake.  Release your new console with Blu-ray and we can all kiss those multiple disc releases goodbye.  Do I believe the machine will be a media hub though, actually I don’t.  Nintendo has never shown interest in doing that before so why start now?  Even the DS and the 3DS have unique features that some might consider multimedia, but these have been severely lacking in relation to what other companies are doing.  If Nintendo does have full media hub support, I’ll be shocked.

What does this mean for everything else, well I think we only need look at what Nintendo has done over the past several years to get an idea of where they’re going now.  Over the past five years Nintendo has been all about the casual market and “joining” players together.  Obviously not online though, oh no, that they dropped the ball on that…or did they?  Think of the Wii’s original announcement.  Do you remember how Nintendo touted the “always on” nature of the machine?  They said the Wii would be able to receive data even when you weren’t playing your games.  While true, that feature was extraordinarily underutilized.  They then incorporated something similar with the 3DS, being able to swap data with other players even if the machine wasn’t active.  Now imagine something like this, but much more advanced and deeper with Stream.  The name could quite literally mean everything about this new platform.  Imagine for a second that Ahmed and I are both building tracks in the eventual Mario Kart release, and we swap tracks back and forth with each other, even if said player isn’t online anymore.  Nothing overly fancy with that, just look at LBP.  That said, what if we were to hop on the following day and not only see each other’s tracks, but those from Nintendo and other players.  A seamless stream of content being pushed from one console to another, from a publisher to everyone’s console, or some variation in-between.  Have I got your attention yet?

What if Nintendo was able to create not only an “always on” and always active platform, but somehow combine the casual market with the hardcore market, akin to Facebook?  Facebook is used by so many hundreds of millions of people who if it were a country it would be the second largest in the world!  See where I’m going with this?

I think this will be Stream’s main focus, to create a social videogame platform that’s always on, always growing and always available.  I have heard this term mentioned in several articles over the past few days, and I fully agree with it.  If Nintendo is able to use the power of the Internet they could create something really special.  Here’s where both the name and the controller come into play as well.

Is this real, who knows, but let the speculation begin!

If that controller turns out to be the real one, then we got this. Let’s go back to Ahmed and I playing some random game.  What if he and I are friends, and no, there won’t be any more friend codes…you hear me Nintendo! Anyways, so we’re both friends, and I happen to head offline.  When I come back, I see all my buddies on the console dashboard similar to what you have on the PSN and Live.  Nothing overtly new about that, right…well hold your horses.  The big difference is, I can select anyone of these people and actually see, in real-time, what they’re playing via my controller’s screen.  Then I can simply invite myself in, and bam, I’m playing with Ahmed all over again.  I really think this is where we’re heading.  Streaming in and out of friend’s games, their content and so much more.  This could very well be Nintendo’s first push into the online realm, and it’s very plausible so long as they build the system around this.

I’d imagine you would have privacy settings akin to Facebook whereby upon initially setting up the console you can say who can jump in and out of your games from “friends, everyone, invite-only” or something like that.  You need to think outside the box in order to start thinking like Nintendo.

If Nintendo can combine the causal gameplay experience they mastered with the Wii, and somehow wrap it around this new idea of a social console, they could take the market by storm.  Just look at Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for an idea of how many hundreds of millions of people adore this kind of interaction.  That’s what Nintendo and Stream are going to be about, mark my words!

This also leads into the controllers.  I believe this entire platform is going to be about streaming content back and forth via the controllers, the internet and the console itself.  Having all your friends always with you, in this always on and always active Nintendo universe.  Who needs a media hub if you have something like this?

This only scratches the surface of what I think Nintendo is prepared to do with their new console.  The Wii had many limitations on both hardware and backbone, but if Nintendo were to remove those hurdles, they could do what I said here and create the world’s first social gaming experience.  They could add in a competitive edge should they feel the need, but just seeing what your buddies are up to, sending messages via the controller (which may even include a camera and microphone) and suddenly everything starts to get crystal clear on why Nintendo feels the need to release a new piece of hardware.  I don’t think Sony and Microsoft have even thought of something like this before, at least not to this degree.  This is where Nintendo is heading, connectivity and social experiences.  Bringing gaming to the hardcore, the casual and everyone else they possibly can.

Now I ask you, is this a console you would be interested in?  What else do you think Nintendo has up their sleeves?  We now know this console is coming, and within the next two months you’ll know everything so now’s the time to get your voice heard.  Don’t be late to this party, as the fun’s only just beginning!

9 thoughts on “‘Your & Our’ Thoughts On Project Café”

  1. I love the idea of seamless content because as you mentioned, that’s where Nintendo has been heading with the Wii and 3DS. If the system itself has the ideas of LBP within its foundation, it could do wonders.

    Also, that other idea of seeing your gameplay on the controller screen while I’m playing my game….never even thought of that. That sound excellent! Too good to be true, but still possible.

  2. I like the possibilities! Whoever if there is one thing we can count on nintendo for it is… disappointing us. I am going to be sceptical until I see it… It’s got to be a multimedia center. Great coverage btw everyone in these last weeks :)

  3. Jarrod I think you’re spot-on in terms of Nintendo’s overall strategy. Core gamers everywhere are going to bicker and moan after E3 because they’re not doing Xbox Live or emphasize 3D gaming, etc etc. But these people seem to always conveniently forget that Nintendo is no longer about being ‘me-too’. The fact that Nintendo has never cared to follow every new tech or trend is evidence way back even in the SNES era. The Genesis was a more powerful machine, but Nintendo’s boxes have always striven to provide quality software experiences.

    They dropped the ball big time with the core audience and Wii. Not because the games were bad per se, but were basically GameCube releases with slightly sharper visuals. Mario Kart is just about the only game that took advantage of WiiConnect24 and NWC.

    The controller is absolutely going to be the key of this new machine, just like it was for Wii. I certainly expect, and think gamers deserve, a more quality online experience…but I think you’re accurate in saying that Nintendo is simply doing their own thing. I also imagine that the streaming functionality could spark a bold, new wave of word of mouth marketing. Imagine being able to enjoy trying a friend’s game that you don’t have for like three days or something. A replacement for renting so to speak. The possibilities for this strategy are endless if executed well.

    But of course, I’m waiting for the official details…..which given how busy I am now, isn’t too tall a task :)

  4. Thanks Justin, and great comments everyone. Don’t feel shy in revealing what you all think will be featured in the new system. I didn’t want this to be one-sided. There’s no fun in that.

  5. I’m also most curious as to how these supposed SDK images were leaked. Nintendo is one of the most tight-lipped companies on the planet, and it seems way too convenient that blatant visual evidence of their designs popped out for the public eye. I mean seriously, how can you fake stuff like that? At this rate, Cafe is going to be the next PSPGo at reveal time ;)

    And another humorous note…is it just me, or must the controller be more powerful than even the 3DS in some regards? Sure it won’t sport stereoscopic graphics, but the 3DS isn’t in HD is it? Very curious…

    1. It’s possible that the images are fake, but the rumors of the specs and info are getting stronger by the second….the internet almost always gets these things right. After all, these people leaked NGP info before its official announcement right down to the detail.

      Regarding your last point, that’s certainly a very interesting statement. Didn’t even think of it that way…HD screen certainly means it’s more powerful, but keep in mind that as Pat said, the controller presumably can’t do it alone. It needs the power of the console to stream content to it, so the HD’s screen function is to have a pixel-perfect stream from the TV. This was one of the biggest faults of GBA-GCN connectivity. With Zelda: Four Swords Adventures for example, Nintendo needed to keep the console graphics simple so that the GBA screen looks comparable.

  6. Whatever comes of this, I’m fairly certain Nintendo will still find ways to surprise us. I’m just hoping I like the direction they take and that initial software looks impressive. Look at the 3DS. That system looked extremely promising, but because of a lack of software the system is having an extremely tough time in the marketplace right now. It did gangbusters numbers in the launch week and has slowed down to a crawl every since. This just goes to show that you cannot release a new piece of hardware without quality software to back it up. You would think Nintendo would have learned something from Sony and Microsoft. They had better learn from the 3DS launch that Stream will not survive unless it has some great software available on day one.

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