The press release announcing the Nintendo Wii‘s successor was, borderline, absurdly short. The big N gave the gaming world a confirmation, news that the machine would be playable at E3 and the target year of its launch. The next Nintendo home effort will see release in 2012.

But why?

With so many analysts pointing towards longer console life-cycles this generation, why would Nintendo look to launch so much earlier than their competition? Most critics and investors have been pointing towards roughly 2015 for the next launches in the Xbox and PlayStation line. And, yet, Nintendo has been a bit of a mystery.

For starters, the Wii’s hardware has never been on par with the competition. Nintendo released a console that, excluding the motion control portion, was outdated on day one. The system lacked HD potential entirely. In an age when most gamers were rushing to stores to adopt the latest and greatest home theater equipment, Nintendo provided a system that would actually look even worse on massive, HD TVs.

The horsepower and medium support on the system itself were both lackluster. Out of the box, the Wii looked like it had the power of two original Xboxes taped together, not the capabilities of a machine released in 2006. Compared to the PS3 and the 360, Nintendo’s home console is significantly underpowered. Add to that the fact that the system doesn’t support play of DVDs, CDs, or any version of hi-def video.

What consumers got was a machine that, essentially, didn’t serve to facilitate the needs of a more digitally advanced age. Nintendo’s tried to grease the wheels on its device by securing things like Netflix, but consumers are still left with a drastically underpowered console during the year 2011.

But, beyond that, the games releasing for the console have been poor. Don’t get me wrong here, Nintendo’s first party efforts have always been positively stunning. I’m a massive fan of everything that Nintendo does on their own (excluding Mario Party and cheap sports one-offs). But third party efforts, as has always been a problem for Nintendo, have been atrocious.

Companies learned early on that mature titles wouldn’t sell well on the Wii. Maybe that’s because more mature gamers may have moved on to more graphically capable consoles. Regardless, Nintendo’s systems haven’t been bolstered with 3rd party support. Nintendo may be looking to garner a larger pool of support from outside developers and publishers in order to create a more attractive catalogue of games. 2012 may be the year that they introduce a system capable of delivering a more third party attractive lineup.

It might also be that 2012 is the  year that gamers are ready. Hardware limitations of the first system, coupled with a completely lackluster roster of third party games, made the Wii obsolete quickly. While the PS3 and Xbox 360 may have the legs to run on for a few more years, Nintendo’s out of gas. They’ve moved all of the systems that they’re going to move, now it’s time to drop this generation and head towards the next.

They’ll need a more core friendly system with a better chorus of third party support to make the Wii’s successor a winner in everyone’s minds.