Nintendo May Be Considering SD/HD Hybrid Console


Nintendo’s major visionaries are worried about the skyrocketing costs associated with creating High Definition games, and may be considering a next generation console that supports HD, but doesn’t mandate it.

Imagine if you will that this generation of the console war was an episode of American Gladiators. On the one hand, you have the Xbox 360 and PS3 – hulking brutes bulging with well-oiled muscles and dripping with testosterone-laden sweat, standing high above the floor on two tiny platforms and trying to knock each other off with those padded sticks in order to gain dominance.

Meanwhile, the scrawny-looking Wii has eschewed “The Joust” entirely, and is currently kicking ass in “Assault,” deftly diving from cover to cover while dodging a pelting rain of tennis balls. Only instead of dodging them, the Wii is letting itself get hit, because instead of tennis balls, it’s actually being shot with mountains of money.

That’s kind of the console war in a nutshell: The 360 and PS3 vying for high-definition technological dominance, while the Wii has gone off to do its own thing and has Nintendo has profited immensely. While gamers and developers alike may bemoan the system’s technological inferiority and lack of HD support in an age when everything is higher and definitionier than ever before, Nintendo has had sound reasoning to make sure that the only 1080 you’ll ever see on the Wii is followed by “Snowboarding”: Making high-definition games is goddamn expensive, since the expenses of making a game have skyrocketed, and the profits have not.

In an Investor Relations Q&A, Nintendo’s boss tech-head Genyo Takeda agreed that the progression to HD was “a natural flow,” especially since it has become increasingly ubiquitous in television programming. However, merely forcing developers to spend more and more money – and consequently take fewer and fewer risks lest they fail and go out of business – doesn’t sit right with the Nintendo bigwigs, so Takeda thinks it’s likely that the successor to the Wii will still support games made in the current Standard Definition: “If we can find out the most appropriate medium, between SD and HD, and flexibly move around them depending on the game’s contents, it will be good, I think.”

Nintendo’s Guru of Gaming Shigeru Miyamoto concurred, saying that it all depended on the style of game – what would Wii Sports have benefited for making the leap to HD? “For example, we have to ask ourselves if HD is really necessary to develop Wii Fit. Won’t HD be better for the games like Pikmin? The developers should choose the most appropriate graphical format depending on the software they make.”

It’s hard to find fault with the argument that a hybrid wouldn’t be convenient. If the Wii’s next-generation younger brother has the potential muscle under the hood to support the newest and shiniest games for the developers with assured hits on their hands, but also lets the gamemakers go SD to take risks at lower expenses, it’s kind of a “best of both worlds” situation, don’t you think?

After all, though one could certainly make the argument that the Wii is just a breeding ground for a collection of crappy minigames and lackluster ports, does anybody think we’d see bizarre risk-taking games like Katamari Damacy that are far from guaranteed to turn a profit if they cost $50 million to make?

(Nintendo D-Pad, via Joystiq)

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