In order to clarify some points on the Wii, particularly their online features, FiringSquad sent over some questions to Nintendo of America’s vice president of marketing and corporate affairs Perrin Kaplan.
FiringSquad: First, many people are wondering about the inclusion of a photo feature in the Wii along with the news and weather channels via the Internet connection and the Opera web browser. Since Nintendo has stated in the past that they don't want the Wii to be a multimedia center like Sony and Microsoft are doing with their consoles, why were these non-gaming features added and what does Nintendo believe that they add to the consumer's experience with the console?
At its core, Wii is about new entertainment experiences. The heart of Wii remains its video games and the unique new ways to play them. We understand that there are still many non-players and we hope they will join us by offering them very easy ways to enjoy other offerings through the unique feature called the Channels. This feature makes the console approachable and customizable for everyone, letting users pick games to play, download classic games, get news or weather, view and send photos or even create playable caricatures of themselves to use in actual games. Our goal is not to control the distribution of all content in the home. We're simply offering easy access to many available tools in order to expand the games market and broaden the appeal of the Wii to everyone in the household.
FiringSquad: It's looking like the Wii will not have any multiplayer online games for the launch in the US in mid-November. Can you talk about why there will not be any online multiplayer games available for the launch (if indeed that is true) and when can US Wii gamers expect the first online multiplayer games to be available for the Wii?
We plan to offer Wi-Fi games for the Wii system, both first- and third-party globally in 2007. Pokémon Battle Revolution will launch first in Japan.
FiringSquad: Can you talk about the Virtual Console games in terms of their features? Will they have upgraded graphics and additional content and features like many of the Xbox Live Arcade ports of older games have for their versions?
No significant changes have been made to any of the Virtual Console launch games, which was necessary to preserve their original look and feel; however, this doesn't mean future games must follow the same path. Developers may choose to update features within a game if desired.
FiringSquad: Will there be a credit card feature for the Wii's interface for people to buy Wii points for the Virtual Console games like Microsoft has set up for Xbox Live Arcade games and other features?
FiringSquad: Microsoft also allows people to customize the look of their Xbox 360 interface with many different themes and picture packs. Are there any plans for the Wii to have similar features?
Users can customize and rearrange their Wii Channel Menus any way they like. For example, one person might want to organize downloaded games by console, while another person might want to group Mario games in one place and racing games in another.
FiringSquad: It was mentioned in the press event that Wii players will be able to not only instant message each other via the Wii interface but also send instant messages to a cell phone. Can you go into more detail on how this will work, including what carriers will support this feature?
You cannot send instant messages over the Message Board itself. It's for posting local messages (other users of the same Wii can see it...like a post-it note), and for sending and receiving emails over the Internet. People can also trade photos and text messages with cell phone users. The service also allows for incoming messages targeted at software, such as a new map or weapon for a game. Games can constantly be updated, thereby extending their playability.