In speaking with corporate investors after E3 last week, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata revealed that the upcoming Wii U will not feature Blu-ray or DVD playback capabilities. Why? Iwata claims that the company has reviewed the costs associated with the drive features and elected to pass on it entirely.
As the President explains, and I’ll tend to agree with him, the console’s timing removes the need for the player inside:
The reason for that is that we feel that enough people already have devices that are capable of playing DVDs and Blu-ray, such that it didn’t warrant the cost involved to build that functionality into the Wii U console because of the patents related to those technologies.
While I absolutely understand the frustration that may come from hearing this news, the notion that most potential Blu-ray and DVD adopters have already adopted the respective mediums is sound. Both technologies, especially DVD, have been around for long enough that would-be buyers have likely already made their player purchases. Catering to the crowd that’s been holding out may actually wind up costing Nintendo more money in the long run.
They’re opting to nix the playback capabilities in favor of cost of manufacturing. That cheaper cost will translate to a less expensive console. As a gamer and movie watcher, I already have machines in my house that are capable of playing both DVDs and Blu-rays. I’ll wager that most of you are in the same boat. By 2012, when the Wii U is set to launch, most consumers that were ever considering the Blu-ray medium will have already made their player purchase.
Want more proof? The Wii has completely dominated both the PS3 and Xbox 360 in sales since its launch. Yes, I recognize that the machine has slowed down quite a bit since then, but it’s done all of that selling without either Blu-ray or DVD. Affordability and unique control methods made that possible. Guess what; Nintendo hopes to recreate that formula with the Wii U.
I’m more than sure that a lot of you will disagree with me here, and I’m ready to hear your opinions … but! I honestly think that the combination of reduced system cost and the age of both the Blu-ray and DVD mediums makes this a smart play by Nintendo. They’re losing a bullet point for their new console, yes, but I don’t think that will translate to a huge loss in revenue.
What’s going to determine my purchase remains unchanged since, well, the dawn of console gaming… show me the games.