Iwata: "Nintendo is not working on a next-generation console"

Game giant president tells Japanese daily that the Wii is a lower-graphics console by choice, sheds light on online plans.

Iwata-san, leader of the Nintendans.
Iwata-san, leader of the Nintendans.

Though many game pundits have called the face off between the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii the "next-generation console war," one of gaming's leading lights does not see the conflict in such terms.

"Nintendo is not working on a next-generation console," said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata in an interview with Japanese news service Nikkei Business' Tech On! spinoff. "'Next-generation' implies that the console is an extension of previous installments. We believe that extending our current line will not lead to larger markets and could possibly even lead to smaller markets."

In the Tech On! interview, Iwata further distanced the Wii from other next-gen consoles with some familiar arguments. He said the increasing complexity of gameplay has put many novices off, and that the Wii was going after said novices with an interface that "would appeal to anyone."

As proof, Iwata cited the success of the DS as a reason for the Wii controller's existence. "When Nintendo opted for the dual screens for the DS, more people were shaking their heads," he said. "Yet the market turned out favorable to the DS...I feel that this had led to more people looking upon our new [Wii] controller favorably."

Still, the decision to go with the so-called "Wii-wand" form factor was a difficult one. "Some of our staff disagreed with changing it," said Iwata. "Yet after some hands-on time with the prototypes, we knew we had a working formula."

Iwata also told Tech On! that mass appeal was the main factor behind the decision to add a speaker to the Wii-wand. "We introduced it fairly recently," he said. "Households sporting 5.1 channel speakers will certainly be able to enjoy realistic sound, yet not all homes have such audio equipment."

Potential Wii-owners will likely be most interested in Iwata's comments on WiiConnect24, the Wii's online network. Unlike Xbox Live, which makes users download demos, WiiConnect24 will automatically deliver Wii and DS demos to any connected console--presumably at the user's discretion

"Let's say your Wii is connected to the Internet in a mode that allows activation on a 24-hour basis," explains Iwata. "This would allow Nintendo to send monthly promotional demos for the DS, during the night, to the Wii consoles in each household. Users would wake up each morning, find the LED lamp on their Wii flashing, and know that Nintendo has sent them something. They would then be able to download the promotional demo from their Wiis to their Nintendo DSes."

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