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.
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.
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!