Update: Nintendo spoke to Polygon on 12/6 about the Wii Mini’s lack of features and Canada-exclusive release. Nintendo is targeting two markets with the device. One, families that haven’t bought any Wii hardware or games yet. Second, Wii owners who are in the market for a second console and don’t need the online functionality. No elaboration was given to the Canada launch or if/when it will be available globally.
Earlier this week, the Internet was buzzing with the leaked announcement of a Nintendo Mini console. Even better, the leaked device was listed at the magical $99 price point.
However, that excitement was quickly replaced by confusion and frustration when more details became available. The device not only lacked Gamecube support, but had no online functionality whatsoever. Further dashing the hopes of budget-minded gamers was the revelation that the Nintendo Mini is exclusive to Canada.
After posting a link about the Nintendo Mini from PandoDaily, I had an interesting conversation on Google+ about the new device and the implications its lack of Internet might have. That being said, here’s the latest installment of ConTECHxtual Conversations.
Me: A $99 Nintendo console could’ve been huge, but they cut way too many features.
Response: Everyone seems to skip over the fact that this isn’t launching in places with well developed internet infrastructure. It’s launching in Canada. We might not ever see it in the U.S. or Japan.
Me: That’s a valid point, assuming it does stay a Canada-exclusive product. I think the bigger question is whether or not people still want to game if there isn’t that online community to play with?
Personally, I’m more of an old-school gamer so the lack of GameCube support bugged me more than the lack of Internet (even though I know Nintendo nixed GameCube support with the updated wii and Wii U).
Response: I don’t think it will stay exclusive to Canada. They might try to market this to alternate markets like South America. The Wii doesn’t really have many games that are substantially improved by online multiplayer. It’s primarily a single player and local multiplayer experience.
As for Gamecube support, the kind of people they’ll be going after with this won’t have GameCube games.
Me: There’s definitely potential as alternative market product. I just think there’s the opportunity to market the Nintendo as a supplementary product to the higher-powered and higher-priced Wii U, much like the rumored Xbox set top box expected to hit next year. This “Xbox Mini” has already gotten a lot of buzz, despite the suspected lower specs and casual gaming focus.
Instead of playing catch-up with Microsoft, Nintendo could try and fire the first shot. While I have no problem with Nintendo having the Internet-less Mini they have now, releasing a different Wii Mini with a tweaked feature set could prove successful.
Nintendo could clear up much of the confusion surrounding this launch by simply stating their plan with this Wii Mini. Is it aimed at families and consumers who can’t afford other Nintendo consoles? Is it a test run for a larger release? Will it ever get online capabilities or see a global launch?
There are so many unknowns accompanying this strange, unexpected release. Maybe Nintendo didn’t foresee this Wii Mini getting as much attention as it has the last few days, but that doesn’t change the opportunity that has now presented itself. I guess the world will just have to wait and see what happens…unless you’re in Canada, of course.