The Nintendo Wii U has turned many heads since its announcement, despite the fact many details about the actual system still haven’t been revealed. Though the console continues Nintendo’s tradition of giving its hardware head-scratching names, the controller reveal nonetheless has us excited about the system’s potential. As features are slowly being ironed out into confirmed details, we’re beginning to truly see what the Wii U will be like when we get our hands on it next year.

There’s no doubt that watching a movie after a long day at work is a good way to unwind. If you’re looking forward to playing on a movie on your future Wii U and, say, moving it on to your controller’s screen when you have to make a run to the kitchen, you might want to stop yourself right there. During an Investor’s Q&A session this week, Nintendo SEO Satoru Iwata has confirmed that the Wii U will not support playback of either DVD or Blu-Ray movies.

“The reason for that is that we feel that enough people already have devices that are capable of playing DVDs and Blu-ray, such that it didn’t warrant the cost involved to build that functionality into the Wii U console because of the patents related to those technologies.”

Taken together with the news that Wii U will use a last-gen processor, it’s clear that Nintendo is doing everything possible to keep the cost of the system down. This cost-saving strategy shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as the Wii U will be entering a competitive market where both the Xbox and PlayStation 3 cost less than half the price they used to. If Wii U were to come out at a much higher price, many consumers may choose not to buy it after comparing prices. That said, Wii U pricing is still unannounced, though Iwata has been dropping some hints. Still, consumers will be waiting with baited breath — we all remember what it was like when Sony first shouted “Five-hundred-and-ninety-nine US Dollars,” and no one wants to hear that kind of news again.

The original Wii didn’t feature any kind of playback support for DVD, though it was supposed to have been addressed a year or two after launch. This never happened, but it was discovered that you could locally hack your Wii to enable DVD functionality through homebrew. Nintendo will likely have much tighter security on the Wii U, so don’t be expecting a quick and easy fix when you want to pop in a DVD.

Infamous industry analyst Michael Pachter also had some less-than-stellar things to say about Nintendo’s new kid on the block, which mostly had to do with pricing concerns:

“The most impactful ‘reveal’ at the show was the Wii U, which, in our opinion, is arriving two years too late. Depending on pricing, the system will be either a phenomenal success or a phenomenal failure, as competitive bundles for Xbox 360 with Kinect and PS3 with Move are likely to be priced below $300 by the time the Wii U launches.”

While many of the things he’s said in the past have been tough to defend, one thing he mentioned here was pretty-well spot-on: the Wii U’s success will likely hinge upon a good pricing strategy to compete with the bundle packages from Microsoft and Sony. Whether it plays DVDs, Blu-Rays, or nothing at all, the Wii U is a serious competitor with some serious competition.

Iwata, during the investor’s meeting, was also eager to move conversation away from movie playback to Nintendo’s new and fresh online outlook. While the original Wii wasn’t known for ease-of-use when going online, it’s already been confirmed that the Wii U won’t have the hassle of friend codes. It’s definitely a step in the right direction, and we’re happy to see Nintendo is growing more comfortable with giving the players the option to interact with the online world.

“As for social networks, after examining the penetration and adoption rate of social networking services like Facebook, etc., we’ve come to the conclusion that we are no longer in a period where we cannot have any connection at all with social networking services. Rather, I think we’ve come to an era where it’s important to consider how the social graph of the social networking services can work in conjunction with something like a video game platform.”

While Iwata went on to say that Nintendo has a policy of adapting to changes, including social networking and VoIP, he stated that nothing concrete could be said during the meeting. In the next few months, we should expect the social networking partnerships to be solidified and confirmed — we know they’re coming.

What do you think about the Wii U not including DVD or Blu-Ray support? Is social networking an important feature for game consoles?

Source: Kotaku, Gamasutra, Andriasang

tags: Nintendo, Wii U