back to article Nintendo: no DVD, BD playback for Wii U

Nintendo's next-gen console, the Wii U, will, like its predecessor, have no DVD playback capabilities. It won't play Blu-ray Discs, either. Ninty boss Satoru Iwata confirmed the news during a Nintendo Q&A session following E3 last week. He said: "The reason for that is that we feel that enough people already have devices that …

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I think the guy is on the level

If you were ever going to get a DVD player, you already have one. Blu-ray will, in all likelihood be the last physical disk system for movies; netflix and On-Demand systems are in explosive growth. Iwata wants to put a console forward into that market, and can either sell to the market now (expensively) or prepare for the market of 2, 3 or 5 years time, and do it cheaply.

prop. discs make piracy harder (though it'll still happen), and avoid nintendo paying out patent rights to other companies, something which its never been keen on to start with. most families I know, as their kids moved rapidly out of the "lets play jump around games with mum and dad" to "mum and dad suck, imma mope in my room" have used their Wiis less and less as gaming hubs and more and more as netflix boxen, and it seem Iwata is looking forward and preparing for changes to come.

yes, seriously. I dont see any obvious flaws in the logic or the method.

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Netflix, etc.

With Netflix already on the Wii, you can be sure they'll be on the Wii U. Digital downloads are the future- not least because Nintendo could try to get in on the action.

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Meh

He has a point but

I think for the next 5 or so years, a device without DVD playback is seriously crippled. Blu-Ray is still a niche market and I don't think it will become mainstream before non-physical (digital) media takes over, but DVD is ubiquitous. For the Wii-U it to be an entertainment centre it should accomodate our existing media whilst we transfer to the new.

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Devil

..and if Nintendo wanted to be really brave

Why don't they abandon disks altogether and release all their games on some form of SD-ROM card?

They would control the market, and have no mechanical parts to go wrong (apart from the card contacts)

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Facepalm

They have learnt

The lesson from the N64. Solid state is still rather more expensive than optical storage and the fact that, for example, magazines could 'give away' demos for the PlayStation must have been a contributory factor in their relative success

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..and if Nintendo wanted to be really brave → #

They already do in the form of DS*, and did in the form of GB* handhelds and the cartridges for SNES, etc.

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Not just SD-ROM

Looking at the physical size of my 8Gb "Atom" USB stick (about 1cm x 2 cm x 0.5cm), you could mass-produce these suckers in a read-only small form-factor and still sell them relatively cheaply. And it'd make storing the physical media that much easier.

(although a 3.5" HDD-factor "USB-rack" for reading multiple sticks would probably not go astray either)

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Anonymous Coward

Netflix?

Maybe when there's a global movie streaming system this would make sense. Currently in the UK the delivery method for movies involves putting DVDs in envelopes and posting them.

Packet loss is a real bitch on that system.

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Lovefilm also streams

I'm watching one right now, 3:10 to Yuma as it happens.

So the UK's not without movie streaming by any means.

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Facepalm

still

But once it arrives you can watch it as many times as you like until you mistake the shiny disc for a beermat. The capacity, speed, reliability and reach of streaming needs to be improved a wee bit to huge pipes, ludicrous speed, won't break and everywhere before streaming will replace hard media.

iplayer st-u-ttttt-rrrrrs at the moment where I am, I tried streaming a film off xbox live and that was unwatchable and took an age to start. If I want to watch Mary Poppins it should take no longer to start when downloading than the time it takes me to get the DVD off the rack and skip to the player

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Anonymous Coward

Lovefilm

Love films stream is awful and their range of shows is laughable.

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FAIL

Great British Broadband

which is fine if you live in area where the max download speed available exceeds "up to 2Mb"

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Happy

SKY and LoveFilm both Stream.

Lovefilm is so so, but as a SKY Subscriber already I find the Streaming on the XBox/Laptop (Currently SkyPlayer Multiroom) is actually rather good. ANd from next month it will be £10 cheaper.

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Like the man says

you've probably already got those peripherals elsewhere.

But then they put their own proprietary drive in?

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Devil

This makes sense.

I really don't understand the fuss about this...

Sony owns the Blu-Ray format. Sony also owns a large movie making empire that releases movies on Blu-Ray. Therefore, including a Blu-Ray with their console was a no-brainer.

However, Nintendo don't own the Blu-Ray format and don't make films, so why on Earth would they include this function? Plus, add the fact that Ninty would have to pay Sony - their rival - a hefty license fee every time a console or game was purchased and you can see the logic behind this decision.

I'm not completely sold on the Wii U yet, but if I end up buying it, it will be because of the games. If I wanted to watch Blu-Ray movies, I'd buy a Blu-Ray player. Simples.

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I would say...

... the thing is that the cost of a DVD player is cheap about NZ$30 on sale so if you want one it is no trouble to buy. Nintendo probably couldn't get one in the Wii U any cheaper than that.

The margin would be in Blu-Ray as it is the 'premium' format, but then you have to pay licencing fees to Sony, big ups to that.

So... why not try to move people away from playing movies on discs? It isn't like your missing out even if it doesn't work.

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The King's Dead! Long live the King!

Apple has always pushed it's users to abandon "old" media formats, and interconnects.

This is no bad thing; dropping floppy disks and serial ports was smart with the original iMac; and I look forward to the death of USB2 (and a little more sadly, eSATA).

Some industry trends are just there to see, and physically shifting disks is heading the way of the Australian book store. Nintendo may need /some/ disk for /some/ markets, but "using Blu-Ray for delivering movies to the loungerooms of the developed world" is not among them.

Soon enough, most media will come to us through The Internet - wired, wireless, etc. The real question is how Nintendo expects to work in an increasingly complex home network - how they'll integrate DRM, multiple personal media libraries, and many media capable devices /per person/.

What's their mobile phone angle?

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I agree with the Nintendo man....

A games console for playing games, a film player [dvd or BD] for films.

This has always been the point of Nintendo and Sega, who are sadly no longer with us. But, with MS and Sony trying to be a Jack of All Trades, there is a room for a good value, cracking good, rip roaring games console!!

Just hope the price point is not too mental..!!

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Angel

Yes, a bit of old-skool UNIX philosophy there:

"Do one thing and do it well."

We will see how the Wii-U-Wii-Mii handles the 'better' bit in time, but I imagine that is the /goal/, at least.

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FAIL

Why Wii U?

When I already have a superior PS3 and a extensive game collection....

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Hey Balmer

You really are an idiot, aren't you - or are you just trolling?

Since the specs for the WiiU haven't been released, how can you possibly know that the PS3 is 'superior'? Or are you just assuming that a 4 year old console is better than a brand new machine nobody has seen?

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Pint

Oh Steve, I thought you'd have a 360...

But seriously, the Wii U is /extremely/ likely to have specs surpassing that of the PS3 or the Xbox 360. But then, that's not really a challenge, seeing as those consoles are 5-6 years old.

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there have been noises

suggesting the Wii-U is about 50% more powerful than a PS3. http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/06/report-wii-u-50-percent-more-powerful-than-ps3.ars

PS4 is coming relatively soon, and the first rumours of the 360's successor are starting to surface too (Crytek have confirmed they're working on games for both already). But, and this is the important point - Nintendo have long eschewed the "pure power" arms race that Sony and MS engaged in. Nintendo consistently sell more consoles than anyone else, and they make money on each sale, no loss leaders on the hardware here - so they're clearly doing something right.

The "hardcore gamers" market is quite a small segment of the population. Nintendo aimed at everyone else - their adverts are directed at kids, families, retired people - and scored, big time.

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Facepalm

Hey James

It is superior in the respect it isn't Vaporware, and can play games right now

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makes perfect sense to me....

why should we pay for patents that we will never use? I'm speaking from a personal point of view of course but, since its launch my x360 has probably only ever played DVD's twice and one HD?

All my media is played through my HTPC (even Sky!) but then I do realise this is a special case and Mr and Mrs Jones probably won't do that ....

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Anonymous Coward

Because

I understand what they are saying but i think they miss the point, I had several devices under my TV and ive recently got rid of the lot and slapped a propper media centre in it, plays games, BD, DVD, SKY, anything

What They have forgotten is that yes the future isnt optical discs but almost everyone has a stack of them, we are not going to bin them all, and most folk wont know how to rip them propperly which is technically illegal anyway

Its limiting the uses for what is essentially a media centre in its self. Its a box that provides media content, reducing the amount of content makes it harder for consumers to get what they need in a single box configuration. Less is more in this case. I am quite positive that if it had say DVD playback, at a good price point, people would consider buying teh Wii not just for the Wii but because they can replace another box too

maybe thats just me but i think its a case of cutting off their noses to spite their faces, its not good for the consumer however you look at it.

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Am I missing something?

A lot of the comments so far praise streaming content - but it has its flaws:-

You don't own it - you never did, but let Netflix try to take back your Blu-Ray copy if they go bust!

Internet speeds - not there yet - my Virgin connection would throttle the hell out of an HD stream.

Anybody want to add any more?

Until I am ASSURED of escrow of my digital purchases, and my broadband can handle them at peak times, Blu-Ray seems to be the choice for now.

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Actually,

"You don't own it - you never did, but let Netflix try to take back your Blu-Ray copy if they go bust!"

I don't know if Blu-Ray does have a protocol for invalidating video discs after sale, but I don't see it being un-feasible. Say, your video player expires once a year and you have to play an update disc to revive it - which will re-set the definition of discs that you're allowed to play from now on. Like DVD regions, but more versatile - versatile in what they can stop you from using.

And Microsoft Windows seems to be allowed to play DVDs only on condition of including similar DRM-invalidating technology. They talk about it in the licence, which is not as restrictive as the licence for what you can and can't do on a games console.

Likewise, several PC video products are licensed to consumers for non-commercial use only: you aren't allowed to make a video and sell it.

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Holmes

Proprietary = cheaper?

I'm a bit confused - how can it possibly be cheaper to develop a proprietary media system of your own, than it is to license one that already exists?

I guess they have done the maths on it, but it feels wrong - unless they are predicting such massive sales that they can drive down the per unit cost?

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HD-DVD is surely the answer

Since then you have an existing standard to use, and Toshiba would probably give you the licences away for a boiled sweet.

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Headmaster

It can be...

It does go against the grain, but it helps to remember that Ninty have already got a lot of prior art in this field (Nintendo Optical Disc et al), so they're not starting from scratch any more. The other thing to remember is that the only other high-capacity optical format, Blu-ray, is part owned by Nintendo's rival Sony. Whether Blu-ray was the superior format or not, I doubt Ninty would want to cut Sony a cheque every time they sell a Wii U.

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Fixed Vs Variable costs perhaps?

Developing a new format is a fixed cost, whether you produce one thousand or twenty million devices the cost of developing it remains pretty much the same.

Licensing is a variable cost scaling with the number of consoles sold, and in all probability the number of game discs sold as well.

At small scales licensing makes sense. At large scales it only makes sense if the licenses are dead cheap or if you don't have the capital to develop your in-house system in the first place. This is pretty much the same argument as Google developing and producing its own network kit rather than using off the shelf stuff from Cisco or similar.

Incidentally I would say that this also applies to hosted services via the cloud. Setting up your own in house servers makes no sense as long as the fixed cost is high and the number of users low. Once you grow above a certain number the reverse is true.

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Happy

Umm and Humm and such

I don't remember (and am too lazy to wiki it), but I don't think nintendo even made or developed the optical drive for the wii themselves, pretty sure it was done by a third party (one of those that have great big factories that already make dvd drives, and for whom making a new optical format wouldn't be very expensive).

they would have to pay someone to manufacture DVD drives if they wanted that, I think what they do is ask someone to make a not-DVD drive.. then they don't have to pay the DVD consortium a licensing fee (which, when you make a lot of wii's, add up).. and there's the piracy things as well, yes.

btw, I had a sudden moment of can-be-arsed, the wii's optical drive (or at least the design of the Wii optical disk) was made by Matsushita (most famours for their Panasonic Brand)

They're not very open with stuff like who makes and assembles what where in what factory, so take my assertions about their workflow with a pinch of salt :)

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Proprietary

Firstly, BD itself is a proprietary format.

Secondly, I'm sure this Nintendo "proprietary" goes only as far as the logical format of storage and the associated firmware/software to read it (and may be not even that).

The hardware is probably standard BD (with the associated licences) but they probably dispensed with redundant audio and video codec licences and the AACS, which is the most ridiculously expensive and useless part of BD "intellectual property" costs.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Proprietary = cheaper?

It's not about cheaper. It's about control. Sony controls BR. Nintento controls their own optical format. Which will technology-wise not far off BR anyway. Nintento always had a knack for full control (sticking the longest with rom-cartridges etc...

Besides on another topic, where there was a debate about open or closed. And many posters without common sense declared that closed was a no-go. I tried to make these ppl see that all creators of closed systems (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jack Tramiel etc...) are ALL filthy rich today! It's not hard to imagine that leaders from Sony and Ninento are also filthy rich.

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Pirate

They don't need a lot of presses

Or whatever it is you make a disk with these days. I guess Nintendo need a few factories(owned by Nintendo) churning out the disks for the various publishers, and then they're done. The cost of the custom-made presses is amortized over the life of the whole WiiU platform, and every disk ever made...

There are lots of ways to encode data to disks, and the only reason that the Blu-Ray and DVD standards can be charged for is because they're ubiquitous - the patents, etc. wouldn't worth a cent if we never moved off CDs.

Also, if Nintendo uses a proprietary disk, they can make huge inroads into stifling piracy of disks (they own all the presses, and can control access). Eventually, someone will figure out how to forge the disk; but until then they'll be secure. Pirated downloads, etc. are clearly a different story.

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WTF?

Like the man said "Disc is Dead"

Yeah, we are already at the point where films, music and everything else entertainment comes downloaded or streamed to your box.

That's why no optical drive in the Wii U.

Oh... hang on... what is that slot in the front?

For the games discs you say?

Um... so why have physical games discs when you just said everything will be downloaded or streamed now?

It seems every argument for why Nintendo want to sell games as physical discs can be made by film or music companies arguing to sell those on physical media.

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Boffin

Except...

A video stream is, well, a stream. All you need is a specific level of bandwidth with relatively low latency. You don't need the 3rd minute of the movie until 3 minutes in.

A modern video game, on the other hand, is a combination of video, audio, graphics, models, and physics and gameplay logic which has a very different load profile. You usually start by loading an intro video, which hides the fact that behind the scenes, you're loading a huge chunk of logic and assets. It's this initial load which requires bandwidth beyond what even excellent internet connections can handle -- yet.

That's why games still need a local format. For now.

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Differerent rules

When Nintendo say disk is dead and games arrive digitally, that's fantastic, when Sony do it with the PSP go, that sucks apprently.

Of course we all know had nintendo did digital download games, it would have been revolutionary, as everyone loves nintendy right?

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Not a bad idea

I have to agree, if you don't have a DVD player by now, it's probably not going to swing your decision to buy a Wii U, and if you do have one, then its not going to either.

Plus anything which will keep the cost of this console down, especially with those mahoosive and expensive looking controllers has to be a good thing.

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Alert

If it walks and talks like a Blu-Ray

It probably is, but Nintendo don't want to pay the licensing fees or have a system that people use primarily for watching movies! Blu-Ray technology exists in other formats without being called Blu-Ray. Didn't they do the same with the Wii?

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Holmes

Yup...

Personally, I'd surmise that Nintendo are using Bluray, but simply haven't paid the licencing fees for Blu-ray or DVD decoding - and on top of that, they've probably customised the disc format (e.g. spinning the disk backwards or including extra layers or encryption/certification) to make things harder for the pirates.

After all, it's what they did with the Wii: it was physically capable of playing DVDs but Nintendo chose not to enable this feature. Thankfully, this was addressed when homebrew apps began to appear, though none of them quite came up to the feature level of XBMC...

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sorry to rock the boat but

my TV has 3 HDMI sockets. Currently my boxee box, xbox 360 and BD player take them all up. If I want to plug my HD camcorder in, I have to unplug one.

HDMI splitters are expensive and a lot of them don't autoswitch, meaning you have to fiddle with yet another tiny remote. Put more functionality into one box, and save me a HDMI slot dammit Nintendo!

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Yay

Sense at last.

I also do not need another box under the telly, and my 2 x HDMI ports are full.

I'm not upgrading my tellie to get more HDMI ports, so any new/replacement gadget must combine features. At least with a PS3 I'd get a blu-ray player, with the added bonus of having my credit card details circulated round the internet...for free!

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my hdmi splitter

was about a tenner, autoswitches so sensibly and quickly that I've long since lost the remote control, and the box dangles invisibly behind the TV.

It's made in the UK by Neet. You can get them on Amazon.

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FAIL

Sorry Epic Fail...

I was looking to upgrade to Blu-Ray at some point but lack of support means that I am less likely to buy one......

Its not just about the ones that 'have' but the 'have yet to buy' thats important too.

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FAIL

They miss a huge selling point too..

Nintendo made a big thing when revealing the WiiU that it would be able to flip whatever it was showing on the TV screen onto the remote screen. How useful would that be if it included DVD/BD playback? If the better half wants to watch something on telly you're not interested in, slap a DVD in the WiiU and watch it on the screen you've got, safely able to ignore Britain's Desperately Talented Housewives or whatever guff it is she's obsessed with.

As it is. no. And yet less justification to bother with it when it eventually comes out, shortly after the PS4 and Next Xbox get announced...

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Coat

Britain's Desperately Talented Housewives

Would that be shown on one of the late night, gentlemen's interest channels?

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Unhappy

Disappointed

I only bought a PS3 as it was a relatively cheap blu-ray player, I do use it for media streaming now, but had my original Wii played DVD's when my DVD player died I would never have bought the PS3 (which has never been used for gaming) as I didn't really, and still don't, need blu-ray but if I was buying a new player I thought it best to get it.

Thought they might get it right this time.

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My Playstation2

was my first DVD player, and has outlived 2 DVD/home theatre systems (and one VHS player), thus proving itself invaluable. I think Nintendo are missing a trick here, as I would welcome some sort of integrated home entertainment system - something like the PS3 offers, perhaps - and I think many other families would, too (families are Nintendo's target market, right?).

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