December 19, 2012
Nintendo TVii Prepares For Thursday Launch In U.S.
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Video games often offer clever plot twists, and there are even games that try to challenge the intelligence of players. But this week Nintendo is looking to make a smart move with its new Wii U console which debuted last month.
On Thursday the video game hardware manufacturer will introduce Nintendo TVii, a free and integrated service for the Wii U that will offer a second-screen experience via the Wii U GamePad controller. Originally promised to arrive at launch, the service is finally set to arrive after a month delay.
While video game console rivals Microsoft and Sony have both long offered a plethora of content-streaming options with their respective Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 console systems, this move could give the Nintendo Wii U a leg up in how content is access and managed.
This second screen controller is Nintendo´s way to make accessing and managing that content a little easier.
“After Dec. 20, you´ll never look at your TV the same way again,” said Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime. “Wii U owners have already experienced the transformative effect that the GamePad has on game play and social interaction. Nintendo TVii shows how the integrated second screen of the GamePad can also transform and enhance the TV viewing experience. Welcome to the new world of TVii.”
The Wii U thus has the promise to turn any TV into a smart TV by offering owners the ability to pull all current cable, satellite and video-on-demand services, as well as streaming video and other content delivery from the Internet into one place. This could include cable offerings from Comcast or even a Hulu Plus subscription. As Nintendo stressed in its release: “This empowers Wii U owners to focus on what they want to watch and not how they want to watch. And once users find the show, sporting event or movie they want, they press an icon and Nintendo TVii does the rest.”
The Nintendo TVii also promises new social features that will enable Wii U owners to share experiences and make TV viewing a more social experience, as users can engage with others through comments on Miiverse, Nintendo´s own social network. In addition, users can comment with posts and tweets through Facebook and Twitter directly from their Wii U Gamepad.
For now, however, Nintendo TVii is still missing a few key allies.
As noted by video game news blog Kotaku, TVii doesn´t support Netflix or TiVo subscriptions in its current form, but both are expected to join the service in early 2013.
Nor does TVii allow users to program or access content stored on DVRs, which would require a host of individual deals with specific cable and satellite TV providers.
“We´d love to have DVR integration but we can't do that without assistance,” said Nintendo of America´s director of network business Zach Fountain in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “We're in discussions to cover that time-shifting portion,” added Fountain, who is responsible for overseeing the business side of the TVii model.
Because of differences in how the TV business works in the United States compared to Japan, this system was developed for the American market by Nintendo of America with aid from software company i.tv. This was a first for NoA, which has traditionally served as more of a marketing arm for Nintendo in the U.S.
The Wii TVii service will officially launch on Thursday. It will be available for free and will require no additional hardware. Many tech observers expect that its biggest challenge may not come from Microsoft or Sony but rather from the numerous tablets and smartphones that have apps that can do pretty much the same thing — and for free.