Sunday, June 5, 2011

Caffeinated Thoughts about Project Café Rumors

Coffee Beans:
     The rumor mill exploded in April with "news" about Nintendo's next console, codenamed Project Caféafter Game Informer first broke the news.
     While initial rumors varied, a few things seemed to remain consistent throughout:
     1)  Nintendo's next console will be more powerful than the Wii, and support 1080p HD games
     2)  There is a new controller for the system that will include a touch screen of some sort, and be more of a standard gaming controller with dual-analog sticks
     3)  Release date for Nintendo's next system will be in 2012, with a MSRP between $300-350
     4)  Nintendo will try to win back the "hardcore" gamers with this console, and is going for more third party support
     5)  The codename for the console "project", is Project Café

     I haven't really posted many thoughts about all the Project Café rumors, though I have chatted with some of you about them.  Some of you may have been wondering, "Why has Coffee not posted any thoughts on Nintendo's next console, codenamed Project Café?!"
     Well, I do my best to let rumor waves settle, before jumping into the waters they come from; kind of like letting a cup of coffee cool just a bit, so as not to burn your mouth.  Sure, while the Project Café rumors were freshly brewed up in April, it was also the craziest time to talk about them, because of how quickly more rumors were popping up all over the place(even now).

     What do I think about some of the WiiHD/Project Café rumors, even the latest "confirmed" rumor of the controller having a 6" screen?  As I am sitting here drinking a few cups of Maxwell House coffee, here are my thoughts!

Caffeinated/Filtered Thoughts:
     The Project's Codename - I think the codename "Project Café" is awesome of course.  Being that Brewster's coffee shop is in Animal Crossing: City Folk, I can see the codename for Nintendo's next console having a coffee meaning of some sort.
     I wish I could say Nintendo contacted me about buying my site because of the project's "codename", but that hasn't happened...yet.  Nintendo my email address is: Scott@CoffeeWithGames.com!

     Touch Screen Controller -  I believe it was THIS site, 01net.com, that first broke the "rumor" about Nintendo's next console having a touch screen controller.  The initial rumor report said the controller has a 6 inch screen, a sensor bar implemented into it somehow, and a front-facing camera.  At this point, the controller screen is basically confirmed, as the Japanese site Nikkei.com was reported to have also confirmed a 6 inch screen on the console's controller just in the last day.
     As for the camera on the controller, it makes 100% sense to me as I think Nintendo will expand the "Miis" idea on their next console, and like the 3DS' camera, the controller's camera will allow users to take their own picture and the system's Mii software will help "create" a Mii for them based off the picture.
     I think having a touch screen on the controller may help some people with menu navigation.  Perhaps instead of moving an on-screen cursor around to make a selection, simply tapping a window(much like on the Wii's current menu system) on the controller's screen with your finger will open it up.
     With how common and popular touch screen phones have become, with the iPhones, Androids, and Blackberry phones, etc.; perhaps Nintendo has realized that a touch screen controller on a home console will have a lot of appeal now to the casual audience with those phones.  I think a touch screen console controller makes a lot of sense now, especially if Nintendo is perhaps trying to capture part of the "mobile" gaming market and bring them over to the home console market.

     Rumored System Function & Name - There has been at least one rumored "official" system name for Nintendo's next console, that being "Stream".  The biggest reason behind the rumor, whether it's true or not, is probably based on the other rumors about the touch screen controller and how the console is able to "stream" content to the controller.
     Being the parent of a 2 year old, I actually like the possibility of the console streaming games through the controller's screen.  If the console allows that, my son(with another expected within a month) can be watching all the SpongeBob, Thomas the Train, or Word World type shows he wants on the television, and I could be playing a game at the same time, but without having to have another television hooked up.

     Release Date & Price - The rumors have all pretty much been saying that the console will not release until 2012 and with a $300-350 MSRP.  If true, I think Nintendo is showing up really late to the HD video game party.  I think this is like being invited to an event/party and showing up at the end wearing a tuxedo with an entrée, when everybody is already relaxing in jeans having dessert and coffee.
     The Wii has sold well for a number of reasons, but I believe the biggest reason initially was its lower price point, compared to the PS3's and Xbox 360's prices a few years back.
     Back on April 20th I commented on another site, "if the 2012 release part of the rumors is true, the console better be $200 or less..."
     The PS3 and Xbox 360 are both now $300, and they are HD consoles that have HD games.  Microsoft even has the Xbox 360 Arcade edition for just $199.99.  Unless Project Cafe/Stream makes espresso drinks, or does something really incredible, I don't see how Nintendo can benefit with the price point of the Stream being higher than the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2012.
     Sure, there is the, "People buy Nintendo consoles for Nintendo games", but if Nintendo is also trying to win back 3rd party support as has been stated, I think a sub-$200, new, HD console would help to really spur sales for the system, and give 3rd parties more of a reason to want to develop for it.
     If Nintendo's next console is more than $300 I just think people may be like, "Why buy the Stream for $300-350 for HD games, when I can buy a PS3 and/or Xbox 360 for less; and those consoles already have a plethora of HD games, and many that are budget HD games for $30 or less?"

     Hardcore Rumor - One rumor floating around about Nintendo's next console, is that Nintendo is going to go after the "hardcore" gamers, again, with this system.  In the initial Game Informer post on the "Nintendo HD" as they called it, they said, "It is our understanding that Nintendo is trying to embrace the western gamer and will likely launch a new brand with this console."
     If by "embrace the western gamer", that means a new FPS IP from Nintendo, I hope this "rumor" is true.  I hope that Nintendo will finally announced a FPS game at E3, that will become their Halo, Resistance, Killzone, Battlefield, or Call of Duty FPS series for their next console.
     The Nintendo 64 brought gamers the FPS games GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark as exclusives, both published by Nintendo.  I think E3 would be the perfect time for Nintendo to introduce a brand new FPS IP being developed for their next console, and that the game will include online multi-player, local multi-player, co-op, single-player, and HD graphics.  Oh, and it will be a launch title for Project Café!

     I'm definitely excited for Nintendo's E3 conference this Tuesday.  I found out this past Thursday that my day off this week is actually Tuesday, and I'm sure I will be glued to the computer screen watching Nintendo's E3 conference just like I did last year!
     I'm excited to learn more about Nintendo's next console, but the one "rumor" I think will be most difficult for Nintendo to fulfill(if it's true), is their trying to win back the "hardcore" gamers.  Last year Microsoft passed out ponchos for their Kinect debut show, and unless Nintendo is passing out hard hats and raining down FPS/action games upon the audience, I don't see how they get, and keep, the "hardcores'" attention.
     While the price point does have me concerned because I have never paid more than $250 for a system; perhaps at E3 we will see that Nintendo has a ton of secrets they will be revealing not just about the console's specifications and controller(s), but also about 3rd party developer game deals they have signed for the system, which could make the price point not such a big deal in 2012.

Questions:
     Are there any rumors that you agree, or disagree, with me on?  Do any of you feel, like me, that releasing the console in 2012 is arriving late to the HD party with the rumored $300-350 price point?  Or, do you feel Nintendo's next console will help breath new life into the HD gaming party, and the price won't matter?

17 comments:

  1. I personally don't know about this, or the rumours. I don't see how Nintendo can think it would be smart to alienate the casual gaming audience that it achieved with the Wii - that's a big market. The hardcore gamers are not.

    I don't understand the point behind a 6-inch touch screen on the controller. I have an iPad and iPhone, and I'm already being forced to carry a 3DS around for Street Pass. For the love of God I don't need another gadget in my bad, and Nintendo is fooling itself if it can possible compete with Apple in that area anyway (which is assuredly what it's doing by making the touch screen detachable).

    I guess I'd just like to see Nintendo get acquired by someone. Nintendo is now completely alienated. While Microsoft, Sony and Apple all have gaming devices that are connected and full-featured, Nintendo's approach to "making games only" is no longer consumer friendly. Nintendo needs an in to get with the broader market, and the only way that's going to happen is through acquisition.

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  2. @GamesAndBiz:
    "I don't see how Nintendo can think it would be smart to alienate the casual gaming audience that it achieved with the Wii..."

    How would Nintendo be alienating the casual audience? I imagine the touch screen controller could be used as a way to reach out to the casuals who own iPhones/touch screen phones, that love games like Angry Birds, but haven't gotten into gaming on a home console yet.

    "Nintendo is now completely alienated."
    How so? I mean Nintendo is a video game company, sure, but I'm not sure how they are alienated when that's what they do.

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  3. @GamesAndBiz:
    N/M, reading your editorial now. LOL, saw it posted immediately after I posted my comment!

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  4. This inspired me to write my piece, lol.

    Perhaps alienation was the wrong word, but all this talk of going after the hardcores, Nintendo's position that the App store = bad and the abandonment of motion controls sounds to me like a hard sell to the casual audience.

    But who knows? We'll have to wait for the presentation for firmer details.

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  5. I'm with you, Coffee. There may, or may not be some merit to these rumors, and I like to bide my time until the big wigs confirm them. And only then can we really start to deliberate on where Nintendo may end up going over the next few years, if anywhere.

    I can see the controllers being the most expensive part of the new system. That's the only hardware that will bring anything new to the table. HD graphics? Yeah, better be. Touch-screen controllers? Ok, how will those work? Could be good for "x" reasons. But we've seen everything else.

    I personally don't think Nintendo will be attempting to "convert" any hardcore gamers. Nintendo exist because of Nintendo. They apparently haven't needed 3rd party games. However, even they cannot exist on their own titles forever, imo. But, something to consider with their market to the casual gamer is: When they released the Wii in 2006, all the 9 and 10 year olds that got one for Christmas are now 15, 16, and 17 years old. They ARE the up-and-coming "hardcore gamers". And it wasn't just the elementary schoolers that got Wiis. But, I'm sure the "Stream" will have backwards compatibility and continue to cater to all audiences with new Wii shovelware....I mean titles. That's just something to think about.

    The bottom line for me: Gotta see what they show off at E3 before I make any serious predictions on Nintendo's future.

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  6. Money is in hand and I'm ready to..... well, wait and see just what this Cafe Stream is on Tuesday. I've been thinking about switching my schedule around to be home and it happened to work out for other reasons so I'm going to try and catch as much as I can as well!

    The rumors have been interesting to hear and almost a comedy at times.

    Price is certainly going to be a slippery slope to navigate. It's great that it will be HD and all, but that's kind of the baseline at this point. As you said, the xbox and ps3's are running the same if not cheaper and you have huge libraries of games available.

    I'm also concerned about a touchscreen controller, how much extras will cost and how sturdy they are. (yes, soon enough both of us will have four little hands of destruction roaming the house) If the controller does turn out to be true I think it's going to be something I have to see as I don't really "get it" yet. @GamesAndBiz: I'm with you on not carrying around yet-another-device. We all start looking like we're Batman or something with 50 things on our nerd belts...

    As for converting the 'hardcore' (which IMO is a vague term), I'm not convinced that will really pan out. (if that's even their attempt). As much as I like Nintendo, they are sort of out in their own little world futzing with things like Wii Music and the vitality sensor. Will their version of hardcore really align with heavy gamers or will it be more of a HD migration path?

    For the casual gamer who wants "more" [than the Wii now that they are comfortable], how many have actually made the leap to a ps360? Are they really waiting for a 'safe' HD upgrade with nintendo? Another thought is how many will be content with the Wii as-is?

    For long-time gamers and N fans, will this actually be a competitive HD console where they can play traditional Nintendo IP's and get great 3rd party games without buying another console? And how many of those core N fans are out there, besides me, that haven't purchased a ps3/360 yet? :) If Cafe looks sub-par, maybe it's time to keep the Wii for what it is then look at one of the others.

    Despite my questions having a somewhat bleak outlook, I'm very excited to know more about cafe and see if it fits into my gaming future or not.

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  7. Good write up. Will this alienate the casuals?

    First I want to state all of those casuals will be getting an HDTV or may already have them. These so called casuals have to get upgraded gamble tv and possibly other devices just so they can view a good picture. They will get a cafe and play more wii sport or what ever.

    These are also the gamers who paid for the wiifit bundle which made the wii cost well over $300. That actually out sold the ps3. So it's actually possible, add the vital sensor to the glance board and new beautiful wiifit games and suddenly those $700 treadmills have competition.

    Another thing your forgetting the wii is still alive and that dev kit is going to be used on the more less ambitious games with some extensions using the new hardware.

    The wii will co exist with this system it seems. Also this is going to mean way better nintendo sequels. This may even boost sells of wii games from third parties since many so called hardcore have not played some of the better games this gen for the wii.

    Because of how the new console is spec the price will drop quickly. No hard drive no expensive r&d and all of nintendos engines are tweaked for fast 3d action games.

    With cod and gta along with other 6 million sellers nintendo will make a better overall profit also.

    So basically you have the wii gamers that may stay with that system and then the hardcore that are very excited about being able to play nintendo exclusive on that brand new HDTV they just got. Many more would have gotten the wii had it done some form of upscaling.

    So now we have a prefect storm. Wii games still coming. Hd done the nintendo way. And many many 6+ sellers that will have sequels on the wii and better online in hd with real shader tech. Then you have an industry that must put out 3 ports just to make a profit on there games because of the cost. Every one wins. The third party gets a crack at getting nintendo fan support and Nintendo can keep making wii games that also work on the new console that can actually be casual.

    The trick is no one is forced to get one or the other. Nintendo isn't late to the party they are the life of the party. Hardcore gamers know they live some nintendo. Mario 5 sales are proof that is no casual game. Also we all know the ps1 and ps2 had the most casual games on it. Yet it did fine. The problem is there where no true 3rd party best efforts from the big franchises on the wii.

    Plus the casual are not going to complain they will simply choose to get a wii or the next nintendo.

    Tomorrow is going to be sweet you'll see.

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  8. @coffee - that one quote of yours on another blog looks familiar. :)

    Seriously though, I think it's way too soon to tell. I'm very skeptical, because of the price point on the system and what I have to think will be $80+ for controllers. I have 3 kids, and the youngest two still drop controllers far too often for my liking as they walk around. I may have to institute a duct-tape to the couch when playing rule. :)

    The key will be what value they can bring at that price point. People paid more for the PS3 than the Wii because those buyers felt it did more that they wanted. The touch screens on the controller could be cool - I remember digging the VM's on Dreamcast controllers. Maybe you can bring up a menu using it without having to pause a game, or maybe you can do touchscreen puzzles - perhaps it will simply serve as a live feed during your sports or FPS games serving as a HUD of sorts.

    Then again, it could all prove to be ill-conceived or worse - ill-utilized by other companies. As mentioned above, 3rd party support is often a problem for Nintendo.

    One note I've frequently read is people are comparing the system to PS3 and 360. From what I've heard from the rumored specs, Nintendo is targeting HD, which is the most obvious improvement over the Wii, but generally what I've been seeing is that this system is expected to be considerably more powerful than the ps3 and 360. If that's the case, the next question will be if developers can actually harness that power.

    Great article- and the follow-up comments were a great read as well. :)

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  9. lol Chalgyr, the controller thing still has me baffled and I can't see them being cheaper than WiiMotes. That's exactly what I'm thinking about when I'm ready for a new console in 2013-2014. (the controller abuse. Heck, I've almost been beamed by a wiimote several times by my wife.)

    @Id:

    You bring up a number of relevant topics, although I think some assumptions are stretching it at this point until we know more. I also believe the Wii has plenty of continued use in it's future despite 2011 game releases crawling to a halt. Perhaps nintendo will let us in on upcoming 2011 wii games (besides skyward sword) that the rumors allude to. I seriously hope they replicate VC on Cafe [as rumors indicate] and continue releasing classic titles on both for years to come.

    As for being late, yes and they're almost late enough to miss it. They tossed up quite a matzah ball with the Wii which payed off quite well financially, but left them trailing in a number of areas. It's difficult to say if they can recapture some of that magic or if it will disappoint.

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  10. @GamesAndBiz:
    "and the abandonment of motion controls sounds to me like a hard sell to the casual audience."

    Well, I know a few rumors have said it will be backwards compatible with Wii games, which would mean the Wii Remote and Nunchuk would still work, and be an option for developers. The touch screen controller though I think appeals to "casuals" with touch phones, which is a very large audience now.

    @Tim:
    "I can see the controllers being the most expensive part of the new system."
    Kind of interesting, one latest rumor says the screen detaches from the controller. If that's the case, it seems like a Sega Dreamcast all over again, with a controller and VMU(virtual memory unit) that could be purchased separately.

    If that rumor is true, I'm thinking the console will include one new controller with screen, but then the option will be to purchase just controllers without screens, and/or extra screens separately as well that can be popped into the controllers.

    "The bottom line for me: Gotta see what they show off at E3 before I make any serious predictions on Nintendo's future."

    Just a few more hours!

    @Robert:
    "I'm also concerned about a touchscreen controller, how much extras will cost and how sturdy they are."
    Kind of what I replied to Tim...I think having a screen separate from the "main" controller would lower costs for consumers, and could be a smart way to go for Nintendo...
    Also, having the screen detach from the controller would be a way to let children play games, with no worry of breaking the screen.

    @Id:
    You are 100% correct about how many Wii Fit bundles Nintendo sold, and most at $90-100, but I would say that doesn't factor into just the consoles price. If you get into attach rates of games, the Wii is reported to have the lowest attach rate compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3.

    As for the Wii still being alive, I guess we'll find out tomorrow which route Nintendo is going with it.

    @Chalgyr:
    "that one quote of yours on another blog looks familiar. :)"

    Haha! Now that you mention it, I know two other spots I could check!

    As for your controller concerns, like I mentioned to Tim and Robert above, if the screen is detachable and sold separately, hopefully that would lower costs and give parents an option to remove it when the kids are playing...which would make a lot of sense.

    "People paid more for the PS3 than the Wii because those buyers felt it did more that they wanted."
    Initially, the Blu-ray was a big feature for PS3. With Blu-ray players can be found for under a $100 at this point, so I don't know how much a selling point that is still with the PS3.

    "If that's the case, the next question will be if developers can actually harness that power."
    One developer would love it at least...Crytek.

    @Robert:
    "lol Chalgyr, the controller thing still has me baffled and I can't see them being cheaper than WiiMotes."
    The Wii Remote Nunchuk combo runs $60, so if Nintendo has a wireless controller like the PS3 and 360, then I can see a $40-60 range for just the controller, and perhaps another $30-60 for the screen...depending on what this screen actually does.

    Just a few more hours! Thank you all for the comments/feedback so far, hopefully we are all pleased with Nintendo's E3 conference in the morning.

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  11. I'm sure there will be a firestorm of Wii U related posts today, but having watched almost all of their conference, I have say I'm pretty darn impressed. Certainly will want to see how the details shake out before getting too giddy, but it seems to have plenty of potential to keep me from jumping on a ps/360 at this point.

    Some good points that immediately come to mind:

    - Even if the screen doesn't separate, it looks very unique for both core and casual uses. Very interesting to move the gameplay from the TV to mote and also for use as an additional peripheral to enhance play. (eg: top down view, etc.)

    - Seem to be able to re-use existing wii motes/nunchucks as many scenarios had the main 'new' tablet remote playing with 4 wiimotes.

    - I didn't hear any specs, but HD looked pretty sweet.

    - 3rd party support looks very good.

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  12. I almost forgot:

    - Compatible with existing Wii games. :)

    No mention about Virtual Console and any sort of upgrade/transfer features, though you wouldn't expect them to get into the gritty details during this initial announcement.

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  13. @Robert:
    For system specs, you can visit:
    http://e3.nintendo.com/hw/#/about

    That page isn't working in Chrome for me, but has been in Firefox just as an FYI.

    As for the streaming games to controller idea, I LOLed when I saw the video of it live, and said, "That's what I wrote!" Except the video was a parent wanting to watch tv, and the kid playing a video game.

    3rd party support is good...though I think it was missing something.

    The re-use of Wii Remotes and Nunchuks makes perfect sense, especially with how many have been sold.

    Reggie said all Wii games, and Virtual Console games, will display/appear just as they do on the Wii...graphically. So, I'm guessing the transfer system will happen for the console just like the DSi to 3DS.

    Anywho, I'm just hoping for more details in the next few days...such as online partnerships, and perhaps some more 3rd party support.

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  14. Ah, very cool, I hadn't made it back to Nintendo's site as I was watching the stream on GameTrailers.

    I notice they didn't post how much flash memory, but it's good to hear of the expansion with SD and a USB HD. Hopefully they have better media management ideas in mind vs the Wii's SD situation.

    What part of the 3rd party support did you think was missing? Frankly I didn't put much thought into it, just my initial gut reaction of "holy batman, several 3rd parties will be releasing good HD games". :)

    I certainly agree with the motes. Tons of people have them, they're getting cheaper and there's nothing wrong with the current use or design. I had a feeling they would try to re-use them to possibly ease the migration efforts.

    VC: I missed that part, thanks. Was stopping and starting the feed between work and house things going on today.

    They mentioned multiplayer a good bit, but from what I remember it seemed more related to local MP. I could have missed it, but I'd like to hear more about online integration and features as well.

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  15. @Robert:
    "Hopefully they have better media management ideas in mind vs the Wii's SD situation."

    Here's hoping! If anything, it would help with the digital games to not put restrictions on the developers size-wise.

    "What part of the 3rd party support did you think was missing? Frankly I didn't put much thought into it, just my initial gut reaction of "holy batman, several 3rd parties will be releasing good HD games". :)"
    Yea, I smiled and was like, "YES!" when I saw the Batman announcement, but at the same time, nearly every single game they showed/talked about will be on the other consoles. They announced one "exclusive" game, and that was the LEGO game...speechless!
    No HUGE 3rd party exclusive deal really.

    The VC part was in an after-interview with Reggie. It was either on GameTrailers or G4TV.

    "They mentioned multiplayer a good bit, but from what I remember it seemed more related to local MP. I could have missed it, but I'd like to hear more about online integration and features as well."
    Yea, they showed a lot of local multiplayer, even after the conference was over; but basically nothing about online multiplayer...though Reggie did say there are 3 more days for announcements, so I'm hoping it's soon.

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  16. @Coffee:


    ..but at the same time, nearly every single game they showed/talked about will be on the other consoles.


    Yeah, that flashed through my head for a second when watching some of the EA talk. I still feel pretty good about it, though it could be out of desperation. Having Wii U as part of more multi-platform releases is a breath of fresh air in many respects.

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  17. I found the presentation fascinating - and one point I didn't touch on, @coffee did somewhat - where are the 3rd party exclusives? In fact, won't many of these games be somewhat old news by the time the Wii U releases?

    I suspect you'll see more exclusives when we're closer to the Wii U release - devs are going to need time to work with the hardware and see what it can do. Plus, right now it makes sense for them to make a game for multiple systems - maximum exposure with a single product to help profitability.

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