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Wii

Doubting Nintendo: Is Online Video Going Too Far?

by Carmine Red - February 3, 2009, 9:58 am PST
Total comments: 23

Yes, it's true that Nintendo has been so wildly successful in so many new fields lately. Any company that can get 14 million people around the world to buy weighing scales and somehow see that as a fun thing deserves all the kudos the world can provide. But delivering video content to Wii users over the internet is a huge undertaking, one that I don't think will benefit the company at all.

Usually, everyone who has a Wii already has a TV and the programming to go with itUsually, everyone who has a Wii already has a TV and the programming to go with it

First of all, people already have TVs. They already have iPhone video. They already have hulu.com and netflix. They already have flash movies on the web, and youtube, PS3 and Xbox360 movie downloads, and on, and on. People already have a plethora of choices if they want to watch something. Why should Nintendo get into that crowded marketplace filled with so many hungry, innovative, and established competitors? Nintendo's success today came because they've opted out of one rat-race (the HD rat race), why negate the smartest strategic move this generation by jumping right into another one?

Of course, Nintendo's done one right thing in planning to use all original, all exclusive content. If they were simply offering the same old movies and TV shows, the service would have even less marketshare than the Wii Opera browser. But that brings up another concern: who's going to manage this whole enterprise? Nintendo's current weather channel and news channel are nice, small, localized situations where very specific data is provided by very specific partners. But in an online video download service where all the content is unique, who's going to be in charge of buying that content from the dozens of different groups who'll provide it? Who's going to vet the programs for quality? And since all the content will be unique and therefore implicitly vetted by Nintendo, who's going to make sure that the material is Wii-friendly? There's a huge production process this enterprise would require, one that Nintendo has no experience in.

Yes, it was awesome, but it's also as close as Nintendo should ever get to the TV businessYes, it was awesome, but it's also as close as Nintendo should ever get to the TV business

Now, that's another thing: Nintendo could probably afford to chase this, but wouldn't it be a colossal distraction to set up? Doing this small scale would be so niche as to not be worth the effort, so Nintendo would have to make a substantial effort. In fact, with online video content delivery already an exploited marketplace and the requirement to create some sort of broadcasting sub-division to handle specifically this, it'd be a herculean task to bring this to completion. That's energy that Nintendo would be better advised spending doing the one thing they do best: making some of the best games in the world, and the hardware to play them on. The Wii 2 is NOT going to make itself you know? The next-generation is not going to get handed to Nintendo on a silver platter, and there is a very belligerent set of people just waiting for them to fail. That should be a more pressing concern for Nintendo than streaming some exclusive anime or gameshow or melodrama to people who could instead be playing games.

Wait a sec, that's ANOTHER thing. Games. Remember the last company that made a huge hullabaloo about getting people watching movies and playing games on the same device? Yeah. Sony. With the PSP and the PS3. I think that track record speaks for itself. Learn from Sony's example Nintendo! Getting more people using the device is a good thing, but the entire thinking behind this is to get them to purchase games, and the market's already shown what happens in situations like these. No games bought, no licensing fees, no third-parties, and eventually everyone is going to claim that Nintendo's pulled a blu-ray. I'm a Nintendo fanboy, not a Sony one.

The PSP's UMD format is dead, and so are its software salesThe PSP's UMD format is dead, and so are its software sales

And besides, aren't we supposed to be taking these lapsed gamers and non-gamers and new gamers and casuals and perform that mythical "up-market" push? I'm sorry, but I was under the impression that the movies and TV I watch are less interactive than the games I play, not more. We've got an entire generation of gamers who've just picked up a Wii Remote, why are we making them put it back down? I thought that this was the entire point of Nintendo's disruption and what Iwata's been saying: save the industry by making new gamers. Save games. Not TV.

Maybe Nintendo's drunk with success. Or maybe they're exploring all their options. Heaven knows that this sort of craziness isn't new: Nintendo tried to take the NES online so you could bet on horse races, and even before that I've heard that Nintendo was wrapped up in everything from love motels to taxis to instant rice. But online video distribution is a minefield for a company like Nintendo, and it's a minefield that lies exactly opposite the direction in which they should be traveling.

Nintendo's future lies AWAY from the couchNintendo's future lies AWAY from the couch

Wii Sports was a revelation that exposed all this unexplored potential that videogames had never explored before. The last thing we need right now is Wii Couch Potato.

Talkback

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusFebruary 03, 2009

I think Nintendo is exploring to make some added value things to the Wii and DSi because both are the first 2 Nintendo platforms with an upgradable firmware and allows for applications. The Wii and DSi are primarily about gaming but that doesn't mean Nintendo can stop there there can always be some little nifty application to get more bang for the buck. I think Nintendo's approach is yeah we got some awesome hardware that tries to appeal to everybody but if you want you can try out these new applications if you want to.

Your PSP parallel is interesting but the problem is that Sony is marketing the PSP and well the PS3 as a do all device first and then a gaming device. PSP and PS3 launched new formats for Sony one failed as a movie format and one succeeded and won a "format war". Sony like Microsoft will always be about using the 360, PS3 or PSP as a multi functional device and approach it as an added value solution in addition to gaming and Nintendo does it reverse with a Gaming machine first with some other non gaming applications which I think is fine.

Ian SaneFebruary 03, 2009

Well I don't think Nintendo could be considered a games only company anymore anyway.  They certainly are compared to Sony and Microsoft but they have stuff like the weather and news channels and some of their DS "games" like English Training and Personal Trainer are really more like software than a game.  Wii Fit is on the fence as well.  There was a time where when the issue of the Cube not having DVD playback was brought up "Nintendo only makes games" was the canned response.  I haven't heard that line from Nintendo or Nintendo fans in a while and that makes sense.  It doesn't apply anymore.

I think functions unrelated to gaming is a natural progession of targetting non-gamers.  You're not just focusing on a market that is content with just playing games.  Some of Touch Generations are almost like "ambush gaming" where the videogame conventions are almost hidden away.  Like the target audience specifically doesn't want to be associated with videogames so you sell them a DS for a "brain teaser program" which is really a videogame hidden underneath.  So this sort of video stuff is all following the same strategy: getting people who don't like videogames to buy Nintendo's videogame systems.

Would it be better for them to dedicate the energy of maintaining this to game development?  Yes.  But then I also make the same point for Wii-makes and non-games.  And I think it's all connected as it's all about targetting the same blue ocean market.  I guess the difference here is that selling videos has no connection to gaming whatsoever while something like Brain Age still is interactive software.  I just see as a different threshold.  To Kairon online videos is going too far while my threshold was a little sooner.  Others may very well think Kairon is off his rocker here and reach their threshold somewhere down the road or never.  But this is who Nintendo is now.  It doesn't seem out of character.  It's just part of the blue ocean model.

Though I do agree there is some financial risk here.  But I thought that about Wii Music and I was wrong.  At some point I think Nintendo may push a product far enough away from a traditional videogame to the point where no one in the Wii or DS market will want it.  This could be it or it could be something later.  But I figure Nintendo is going to hit that wall at some point.  Might be good for them so they don't feel so invincible.  It can't be a UMD like disaster because they don't have to make physical UMD movies that no one will buy.  No one buys this and Nintendo's just stuck with an unpopular movie on their servers.  If you're going to push movies this is the safest way to do it.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusFebruary 03, 2009

Nintendo is such a massive corporation that I don't see a problem with them hiring a few people to control a single channel on the Wii. Even if they outsource the work, it isn't a huge deal.

I think flames hit the nail on the head though. Nintendo is games first, everything else second. Microsoft and Sony are pushing all-in-one first, and worrying about games second. As long as Nintendo never changes this, I don't foresee a problem. When you have such a drastic lead over your competitors, and you are growing larger by the day, you need to diversify, and this is Nintendo doing such.

Let me make it clear that I love online video distribution. I'm watching Hulu right now! And if I were to buy an XBox360, as a netflix subscriber, I'd be like... SCORE!!!!

...*ahem*

But for Nintendo, I think that is significantly out of their league and a tactical error.

Oh yeah, and unless these are some sort of interactive videos... yeah, it's a completely different case compared to the ambush gaming you talked about IanSane.

PlugabugzFebruary 03, 2009

I think nintendo is trying to "shape" the supplementary experiences (online, channels etc) around the system, as opposed to around the games themselves which MS/Sony are dong.

It's all well and good doing it, but it's still showing their immaturity in this area. I stopped using the NOE nintendo channel when i noticed 3 months post-release it had no new DS games and only updated TV adverts.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterFebruary 03, 2009

So basically, the issue here is that Nintendo did the right thing by focusing on just games this generation, and this new video streaming service would be trying to turn the Wii into a multimedia machine akin to the 360 and PS3?

My biggest concern about this service is that it might depend on the connection's speed. My biggest pet peeve with the Nintendo Channel is that even 30 second spots stop every minute or so to load. It must be painful watching a movie that is 30 minutes long.

UltimatePartyBearFebruary 03, 2009

Sony always cripples itself because it is both a content owner and a hardware maker.  The content side pushes the hardware side to do things to sell more copies of Spiderman.  Sony tries to use hardware to sell content, and it doesn't work very well.  Nintendo recognizes that it's the other way around, so they've already avoided one of the competition's pitfalls.  Furthermore, while Sony may already have a large library of content apparently suitable for such a service, it's all static, old media.  You can get it elsewhere already, and you've probably seen it before.  Nintendo is free to develop new content that complements the Wii and suits its userbase.  See, we're looking at that disruption thing again, where the competition's strengths become weaknesses and your own weaknesses become strengths.  Will they pull it off?  I don't know.  I'm pretty sure it's never going to be available outside of Japan, though, if only because our Internet connections suck.

GoldenPhoenixFebruary 03, 2009

Sony really should set up their games division as a separate entity of sorts and let them make their own decisions.

Ian SaneFebruary 03, 2009

Quote:

unless these are some sort of interactive videos

You mean FMV games!  Night Trap and Dragon's Lair on the Wii! ;)

I agree wholeheartedly with this blog post. It's complete nonsense that they've disabled the wii's DVD capability only to jump down this rabbit hole/green pipe.

But if it means new mario cartoons or The Fils-Aime Bomb Hour? Well that'd be swell.

Exit question: How might this relate to legend of OO?

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusFebruary 03, 2009

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Sony really should set up their games division as a separate entity of sorts and let them make their own decisions.

Technically it is like that, Sony's Music, Movies, SCE, Sony Online are all separate entities within Sony and Sony Ericson is a 50/50 joint venture.

Also I don't get why everyone is freaking out about the video service, it's completely optional if you don't want it, don't download it simple as that.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterFebruary 03, 2009

Quote from: Ian

Quote:

unless these are some sort of interactive videos

You mean FMV games!  Night Trap and Dragon's Lair on the Wii! ;)

You know, that isn't a bad idea...

I know they are not games (you just basically do a selection that continues the movies), but provide dumb fun and some great moments (I had a blast with S_B the first time I played the Dragon's Lair series).

Not to mention it would be very old school.

EasyCureFebruary 03, 2009

Quote from: pap64

So basically, the issue here is that Nintendo did the right thing by focusing on just games this generation, and this new video streaming service would be trying to turn the Wii into a multimedia machine akin to the 360 and PS3?

My biggest concern about this service is that it might depend on the connection's speed. My biggest pet peeve with the Nintendo Channel is that even 30 second spots stop every minute or so to load. It must be painful watching a movie that is 30 minutes long.

Sucks for you. I've watched full length movies (albeit broken into 30-40min segments) thru the Internet Channel before and it was pretty much flawless.

I'd love to see what kind of content they put no there, but since chances of this coming outside of Japan i won't get my hopes up for something cool.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterFebruary 03, 2009

Quote from: EasyCure

Quote from: pap64

So basically, the issue here is that Nintendo did the right thing by focusing on just games this generation, and this new video streaming service would be trying to turn the Wii into a multimedia machine akin to the 360 and PS3?

My biggest concern about this service is that it might depend on the connection's speed. My biggest pet peeve with the Nintendo Channel is that even 30 second spots stop every minute or so to load. It must be painful watching a movie that is 30 minutes long.

Sucks for you. I've watched full length movies (albeit broken into 30-40min segments) thru the Internet Channel before and it was pretty much flawless.

I'd love to see what kind of content they put no there, but since chances of this coming outside of Japan i won't get my hopes up for something cool.

Well, if you are talking about YouTube or any other online video service I agree its flawless. But that's because the video loads and once it loads you can fully watch it.

The videos on the Nintendo Channel, however, do not download, they are streamed into your console, taking into consideration your internet speed. So if you have a super fast connection it will barely stop to reload. But if you have a basic connection it can stop up to 3 or 4 times while loading even a 30 second video.

My worry is that if Nintendo is using a streaming service for their video channel it could be disastrous for those that don't have a fast connection.

DjunknownFebruary 03, 2009

Quote:

The last thing we need right now is Wii Couch Potato.

One of my friends whom I've haven't seen years, visited me during Christmas break,, wanted to see what was the big hub-ub about the Wii. I showed it off, showcased some games, and proceeded with Wii Sports. He beat me 211- 170, by laying spread out on the couch, thrusting the wii remote in the air. He didn't understand the point of people getting up and 'emoting' the motions, when they can just lie flat on their ass, beating people who 'go through the motions'... :P

Quote:

So this sort of video stuff is all following the same strategy: getting people who don't like videogames to buy Nintendo's videogame systems.

Hey, it worked for R.O.B back in the day... ;)

Quote from: Djunknown

One of my friends whom I've haven't seen years, visited me during Christmas break,, wanted to see what was the big hub-ub about the Wii. I showed it off, showcased some games, and proceeded with Wii Sports. He beat me 211- 170, by laying spread out on the couch, thrusting the wii remote in the air. He didn't understand the point of people getting up and 'emoting' the motions, when they can just lie flat on their ass, beating people who 'go through the motions'... :P

Maybe he could get a job at gamespot?

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterFebruary 03, 2009

That's what me and S_B like to call "toolboxing it". It came from a Penny Arcade comic that said that even if you could play Wii Sports while sitting down you would be a far bigger tool than the guy playing it as is.

TheFleeceFebruary 04, 2009

I think video distribution is going to be a tough goal for Nintendo to meet. What sort of content would really be seen on the Wii? It would have to be something much better than what I already watch and I doubt that's going to happen. I rarely use the Opera Browser or watch more than a demo video on the Nintendo Channel due to buffering and interface issues. I've always wanted to watch DVDs on my Wii, but since I can't I'd have to settle for a potential mediocre at best video of what? Captain N reruns? Pokemon spin off series?? Are they going to charge for this at all? I can watch all of the Mario Super Show eps on Netflix. They ought to just make a deal with them and cut the crap.
However- I think that this idea is better suited for the DS because of it's portable capabilities. I have a few movies and shows on my iPod, but the real situation about both systems is whether the content can hold up.

Stop bolding! Oh wait, I thought you were Obi. Sorry, Kairon!  ;D

I thought Nintendo had announced a TV network-based Japanese partner that would be mostly in charge of the day-to-day content acquisition....

NinGurl69 *hugglesFebruary 04, 2009

It's not so much Nintendo venturing into TV content as much as TV companies taking advantage of Wii's bacon-busting market penetration as a functional box that IS in households, compared to "more dedicated" devices.

TheFleeceFebruary 04, 2009

Quote from: NinGurl69

It's not so much Nintendo venturing into TV content as much as TV companies taking advantage of Wii's bacon-busting market penetration as a functional box that IS in households, compared to "more dedicated" devices.

Okay, but then what content would be created for the Wii? On one end Nintendo wants to match the services that other consoles provide, but they are strict about content that I couldn't picture anything except maybe what PBS would show. That doesn't merit the efforts of the service which is a shame because there's really enough content to go around and I'm not sure that Nintendo would be comfortable distributing things.
I really don't know what to expect as far as programming, but the more I think of it, the more I feel that it won't be worth my time and a big waste to anyone else because of how online video already works. What sort of content are you expecting or hoping for?

NinGurl69 *hugglesFebruary 04, 2009

I wouldn't know.  Only Nintendo and that JP TV company knows.

"because of how online video already works."

How does it already work?--by displaying on personal *computer* screens.  This is a contest to develop a working business model to deliver that varied, on-demand video content through TVs instead of computers.

History did this:

1.  Pre-programmed video content through Television (old content, old interface, old medium)
2.  Anything-goes video content on the internet through a Computer (new content, new interface, new medium)

The TV content box concept is trying to do this:

1.  Anything-goes video content through a Box through a Television (new content, new interface, old medium--cuz the audience is still huge)
(on-demand cable programming is attacking the same point from the opposite direction with semi-new content, old interface, old medium)


YouTube already does a lot, but it's mostly focused on delivering video, and just more video (cuz that's YouTube's business), strictly on a computer/webbrowser setup (iPhone?  whoopty-doo, just making tiny video even smaller...).  Web broadcasting by TV networks acts as an on-demand reinforcement to existing TV programming, but it'd probably be nice to view on... a TV?  with the usual decent TV quality instead of tiny web video?

I think the Nintendo Channel is hinting at ambitious video+information integration because of its known functions to include supplemental product information and redirection for online orders--ON A TV.  The closest existing TV-based example that comes to mind would be ordering services through a hotel's TV box.

On-demand TV delivers OK visuals with a crap interace; WiiTV would work from the opposite end of the spectrum with crap visuals and a superior interface... which has more room for growth?  We already have a multitude of options available for video delivery as mentioned in the blog, but they can be trimmed down to identify two different camps:  The struggle is between the TV screen and the computer screen.  Which one will you put money on?  Companies are experimenting with which direction they wish to take.

Who knows what the WiiTV content is supposed be.  Will it simply be on-demand video streaming, or will they actually take the next step to deliver interactive TV through integrated video-software to receive live user input for unimaginable purposes?  Wii has shown it's capable of the unimaginable.

AVFebruary 13, 2009

i hope NOA is smart about this and just has a Hulu channel and have its own unique flash or video program that works ideally for the wii.

I love hulu and watching a movie or tv shows i missed on my sofa is better than my monitor.

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