There is one secret to the Wii to be revealed around launch and it is going to be "big", according to Nintendo of America´s president Reginald Fils-Aime.
GamePro confirmed that Reggie said that at a recent GameStop event, where store managers learned more about the new Nintendo console.
I can confirm that there was a GameStop retreat and Reggie did in fact say there will be another big Wii revelation around launch time.
Only recently, Perrin Kaplan promised "a couple of other surprises, (...) more details on a couple of different things" that would particularly please the hardcore gamers.
"Bigger than the controller"
It feels good to be back in the Wii speculation saddle. Let me remind you that this author was given some indication late last year that there is another secret that is bigger than the controller unveiling. Naturally, I cannot name the source. I can say, however, that this source is as reliable as it gets.
But let us examine the context in which this quote should be interpreted, going back to the earliest rumours about the console that was codenamed Revolution.
Since this blog´s inception, there was a steady flux of hints as to what the last secret might be. Long-time readers will remember that this blog started with the assumption that the angled Wii stand was a hint at some technology that required the console´s front to face up to the player.
We talked about Augmented Reality, found out that it could be sold at a mass-market price and even came across some proof that a Japanese gaming company had invested in cutting edge 3D technology.
More recently, though, there were no longer any indications that we really should be expecting something big. Publishers like EA have hinted at more humble secrets like touch sensitivity. And particularly my interviews with Nintendo executives were sobering.
Shigeru Miyamoto told me in March of this year:
Whenever we are talking about secrets, the secrets created in order to let people feel like I can touch it, I want to play with it. That’s all regardless of their past gaming experiences. The secrets are always there for them to feel that this is a machine; I really want to play with it.
Satoru Iwata told me at E3 that the speaker in the controller and Wiiconnect24 were the last secrets:
That - and Wiiconnect24, which we recently announced. We have not yet announced details about this. Well, maybe you are underestimating the power or potential of Wiiconnect24 now. After all, Wii is a console that can be connected to the internet 24 hours a day with minimal consumption of power. In the near future we can reveal what it can do an then you can understand many secrets behind the Wii machine.
That and Kaplan´s recent comments about some ´details´ all seemed to downplay a last secret. This made me believe that my own source may have been exaggerating.
Back to believing
Now I feel that the information I was given may indeed have been correct all along (or more correct, at any rate). After all, the source is very, very reliable. And Reggie may be a marketing buff. But he knows, more than anyone else, that you cannot build up hype and not deliver on it.
We may argue about whether that last secret is, indeed, bigger than the controller. It may very well not be. Note that Reggie did not use this comparison, so we should not really expect this. But if Reggie says ´big´, it will be big.
A ´big´... what?
So what could it be? Having lost faith in the "bigger than the controller" comment, I have gone on record believing it to be something to do with the online experience. And GamePro agrees:
"I'd think it would most likely be specs related (since Nintendo is still hush-hush about what the Wii actually incorporates). My second theory is that the revelation will be about Wii's online capabilities," editor RiceBurner writes.
But what could possibly be big about online? And how can Wiiconnect24 please hardcore gamers? We know that the Wii is likely to mirror the friend codes system the DS uses. Though popular with non-gamers, this does not please the hardcore crowd one single bit. The service could be free of charge, of course, but that is hardly what we have in mind when we think ´big´. While there are still details to be divulged about Wiiconnect24, I do not think that Reggie is hinting at mere online capabilities.
Small can be ´big´
I have gone over the wealth of comments we have mulled over since June 2005 and what struck me the most is a comment by Square Enix president Yoichi Wada
We would like to strongly support Nintendo’s next-generation networking plans. The Revolution may embody a new platform beyond a portable or console, which makes possible a new structure in the network gaming system, changing the ways communities are built and supported. This is the kind of direction we’ve envisioned, and we will challenge ourselves to provide immersive interactive content in response to what Nintendo offers.
I believe that we have taken the Wii´s size for granted, not realising just how small the console really is. It is only as big as 3 DVD cases stacked. It is tiny. Its size almost breaks down the distinction between a portable and a home console - and Wada´s comments put some significance in the Wii being so strikingly small.
Interestingly enough, Wada mentions the portability aspect alongside the online functions. This may be hinting at the console doubling as some kind of portable messenger or even some kind of make-shift cellphone. But I strongly believe that Nintendo is firmly focussed on the Wii becoming a gaming machine. While I cannot offer you any concrete answers, of course, I will go on record that I believe Reggie to be hinting at something that relates to the console´s size, which makes Wii a semi-portable gaming device.
EDIT I have come across an aspect of the Wii system menu that may, in fact, support my hypothesis that the console may be semi-portable. IGN Weekly Episode 30 starts with a run-through of the menu. Eight minutes into the clip, Matt opens the ´Internet´ and ´Connection Settings´ tabs. The menu offers you a choice between three different connections, as pictured below.
Now, why would you want to store various connections in a console unless it was meant for the road? In fact, the menu looks eerily reminiscent of the DS´ connection menu. This may indeed hint at my theory as to what the big secret may turn out to be.
EDIT Though perhaps unrelated to Reggie´s comments, Engadget reports about an upgraded Wii to be released next year:
According to UK mag EDGE, the big N's preparing to release a premium Wii console in Japan next year featuring, you guessed it, DVD playback. Of course, it's not totally out of the question (at least the discs are the right size), and it wouldn't be the first time Nintendo's released a console only to surprise us with a new and improved version a little down the line.
EDIT The above has been confirmed. Nintendo told Games Industry:
There are currently plans to release a version of Wii in Japan featuring DVD playback. There are currently no plans to bring this model to Europe or the US.
Thanks to: Kamen24