Nintendo usually likes to keep things pretty close to its vest, so you’d expect details about the Wii U, the company’s next generation console, to be pretty scant right now.
Nope. With the system’s big coming out party planned during the E3 video game expo just over a month from now, we’re learning plenty about what the company has in store, though far from everything.
First, what we don’t know — and what we won’t for a while. Nintendo, in a conference call with analysts following its annual earnings report, slipped in word that it does not intend to announce the price of the Wii U at its annual E3 press conference in June.
That’s disappointing, but not surprising. The company traditionally keeps that detail in its pocket for new systems until a couple months prior to release, which lets it get a new round of media focus.
What we do know sounds pretty exciting, though. Nintendo, which has never been the most progressive company when it comes to online gaming, is finally embracing digital distribution in a big way.
Starting in August, Nintendo’s new first-party games will be available at both retail locations and through its downloadable games eShop. The first title to do so will be New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS — and when the Wii U comes out, users will be able to download games digitally from day one.
“Starting from this software, the company will offer the software titles that Nintendo itself publishes in both packaged and digital download formats so that our consumers can choose the way to purchase them,” said CEO Satoru Iwata on the call. “It is imperative for us to expand the exposure of the digital download products to potential consumers.”
Retail customers will also be able to buy prepaid download cards for games at brick and mortar stores. Retailers will be able to set whatever price they want on those cards, a move aimed at eliminating fears that Nintendo’s control of the digital store would result in higher prices.
We’re also getting a look at some of the games we can expect with the Wii-U. Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto has already announced that a new Pikmin and a new Mario game will be revealed for the system at E3, and a leaked video for Rayman Legends on the Wii-U wormed its way online. Ubisoftconfirmed the video was real, but noted it was meant as an internal demonstrative video and wasn’t reflective of final gameplay. Still, pretty awesome stuff: