Is it Time for the Wii 2?

Can Nintendo still be competitive against the Playstation Move and Microsoft’s Kinect? And, what hardware should the Wii 2 have? Microsoft’s Kinect has sold over 10 million units and, according to Michael Pachter, Kinect is out pacing Sony’s Playstation Move 5:1. However, the Playstation move still sold a prominent 1.5 million units in Europe and 300 thousand in the US.

The Kinect and Move are still selling, but what about the Wii? The Wii has actually sold 85 million units world wide (35 million in the US) in 2010. And, their first party games (Mario Galaxy 2, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Super Mario Bros.) are selling in the millions as well. But, with the release of both the Kinect and the Move there may be a major decline in sales once consumers realize the superior quality and accuracy in motion technology that Microsoft and Sony can provide.

On another note, third party games for the Wii have not sold nearly as many units as their PS3 or XBOX 360 counterparts. Many third party developers have abandoned the platform. Some (EA) have called the Wii a legacy platform, and are already hinting at a Wii 2.

Is the time right for a Wii 2? It definitely is the right time for the Wii 2 to emerge. A Wii HD variant should have been put into production a long time ago. The Wii’s graphics are showing it’s age, and it’s accessories wane in comparison to the Kinect’s and Sony Move’s capabilities.

What the Wii 2 should have

1. Better GPU: Since Nintendo has stuck with AMD/ATi technology, an AMD midrange 6 series graphics card would suffice. Most likely a mobile HD 6950M or HD 6970M laptop GPU. Both come packaged with 960 stream processors, so either would be a decent choice. This alone can outperform the XBOX 360 and Playstation 3’s graphics capabilities. After all, it is the graphics card that pushes polygons and geometry and not the CPU.

2. Better CPU: A decent tri-core or quad-core CPU. Nothing too fancy, something easy for developers to multithread and get their head around. Developers use multi-core technology by assigning specific tasks such as AI to one core and physics to another core. However, the GPU can also do physics, but using the CPU for physics would free up the GPU to handle other graphics related computations. The more cores the better as long as the instructions per clock cycle are up to the task. Currently, the Wii has a puny 729MHz single-core Broadway processor from IBM. To contrast, the original XBOX used a 733 MHz Intel Pentium III uniprocessor. Therefore, a 2-3GHz multi-core processor would suffice and be a step in the right direction.

3. HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort connectivity: Options for SD and HD connections are a must. If they go with AMD, DisplayPort will most likely be included.

4. A complete browser: A fully integrated Opera, Chrome, or Firefox browser. Don’t gimp the web viewing experience with an altered GUI. Keep it the same as the PC experience. The need for a good browser in a next gen console is a must. The PS3 browser is actually as bad or worse than IE7 in some cases.

5. Continue with a quiet and small form factor: The reason for going with a midrange modern GPU (besides cost) is heat. If they were to select a high end GPU, this would require loud fans and a decent heat sink, thus making the potential housing of the unit much larger.

6. Fair price: The price should be no more than double of what the Wii currently costs. They may have to initially sell the system at a loss. This would be similar to what Sony and Microsoft have done with their systems. However, if they balance the hardware accordingly the initial loss may balance itself out within a year. GPU prices usually see a significant drop within a year of release.

7. Better motion sensing technology: Will they stick with controllers, or opt to go the Kinect route? Either way, it is clear that consumers want accuracy and a better solution must be adapted into their next console. The Wii Motion Plus should have came bundled with the Wii from the start, so Nintendo should be more careful with its selection of hardware.

8. Large Storage: A 7200 RPM 320GB-500GB 2.5″ form factor HDD should be implemented. This is necessary to store demos, patches, DLC, and digitally distributed games. There is no excuse to gimp a system with limited storage by today’s standards.

9. At Least 1GB VRAM and System Memory: The PS3 has 256MB of main memory and 256MB GDDR3 of video memory. Video memory is what the graphics card uses to store data, allows for AA at higher resolutions, and higher texture resolutions. Both the 6970M and 6950M have 1GB of GDDR5 video memory, making it enough to play today’s games with higher texture resolutions. To contrast, the Wii only has 64MB of GDDR3 video memory. And, main memory or system memory is important, since it is what allows the OS to operate, allows for multi-tasking and better web browsing, and can also hold game textures, and other game related information.

10. Steam Integration: If they use mostly PC parts, some type of cross platform play would be easier to implement. If Wii user’s had access to the Steam library, then it would be easier for third party and independent developers to develops games and distribute them on the Wii. This would be a very interesting selling point and could attract a lot of attention as a result. It would be nice to have achievements carry over to different platforms. However, a better online system is needed in general for the system regardless of how feasible this may sound.

So, is it the right time for another Wii console? What features do you think the Wii 2 needs? Share your thoughts and drop a comment below.