Nintendo May Consider A 3D Wii Console

Is it really any surprise? It shouldn't be. 3D is going mainstream, and that means entering product segments that it hasn't entered before. Like gaming. Sony was the first major gaming company to confess that they would be producing 3D titles and supporting 3D playback via the PlayStation 3, and now Nintendo seems to be following suit. The company recently showcased a new 3D version of the popular DS gaming handheld (the 3DS), but taking 3D to the portable sector may not be enough.

If 3D truly takes off, and worldwide 3D TV adoption soars along with the demand for watching 3D content in the home, Nintendo may feel the need to produce a 3D home gaming console. What's unique is that Nintendo has been completely dismissive of any talks of a Wii 2, or a Wii HD. The Wii has continued to sell well since its launch, so there's been no immediate need to think about an upgrade or a replacement. The only notable change we have seen to the Wii since it was launched in 2006 is the addition of a black color model and the Wii MotionPlus controller add-on. No "slimmer" console, no "upgraded" console, none of that.

So, why would Nintendo suddenly take seriously the thought of a 3D Wii? It's hard to say. The company has long since ignored the demand for a true HD gaming system; while the Wii does support component inputs, there's no 1080i game support at all, and the CPU/GPU is far too weak to push the same level of graphics as those seen on the PS3 and Xbox 360. So if they've managed to ignore that demand for so long, why even pay attention to 3D, which has yet to prove itself as a viable market path yet?

Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata was recently quoted from talks at E3, shedding a bit of light on those very questions: "If you display a 3D image, the image quality becomes extremely bad, so we'd probably do it with the next system. We're thinking that the timing should be once the 3D television adoption rates crosses the 30% mark. We're looking at the adoption trends. In 3D, it's easier to get a sense for position. In a game where the stages extend into the screen, it's surprisingly easier to control [compared to non 3D]. This is functionality for making games more pleasant to play, not just for show. It allows us to realize images that are close to what you see in your daily life. In the future, 3D will become the mainstream of gaming."

And remember, this is from the CEO. It's clear that he views 3D as a good opportunity, but it's difficult to say why he doesn't view true HD gaming the same way. It's possible that Nintendo is simply happy catering to their market, which generally doesn't include "hardcore gamers," and he feels that 3D can benefit both hardcore gamers as well as the casual gamers that buy so many Nintendo products. Will the 3D Wii come before the HD Wii? Time will tell.
Tags:  Gaming, console, Nintendo, Wii, 3D