US Vice President Dick Cheney once called energy conservation an optional "personal virtue." However, over in the UK, it may soon become the law. A recent report in the London Times reveals that the British government may soon outlaw standby switches on electronics, which allow them to be partially powered down, in an effort to curb energy use among its citizens. According to a government energy review, standby machines use 8 percent of all domestic electricity in the UK.
So what does that have to do with games? Well, if passed, the measure would complicate the online component for the forthcoming Wii console. When Nintendo unveiled the next-gen machine at its 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference, the game giant played up the device's WiiConnect24 download service. Company president Satoru Iwata made much of the fact that the console would be "always on" and would automatically download demos and other new content in standby mode while gamers slept. "We're aiming for a console that's new every day," said Iwata.
The WiiConnect24 service is predicated on the assumption that the Wii will be turned on 24 hours a day, either fully powered or on standby. That means that the new British law would effectively hobble the service's automatic download features, since it would require the console to either be turned on or off.
Given that most other European countries have no such anti-standby button measures on the books, Nintendo may have to tweak WiiConnect24 specifically for the UK market. But will it? That has yet to be determined, as Nintendo reps had not returned requests for comment as of press time.