For its upcoming console the Wii, Nintendo wants to expand its appeal way beyond gamers. To achieve this, it announced at a press conference this morning that it will create channels for users to navigate upon turning on the system. While Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime skirted the possibility of bringing in branded channels, he did say there was a possibility in the future. To give you an idea of the potential, at launch there will be a disc channel for direct access to games; a “Mii” channel, a virtual world of sorts where you can create characters that can then be exported to certain games and even friend’s consoles; photo channel that can display photos and movies from an SD card; a forecast channel that picks up a weather feed from the WiiConnect24, always-on Internet; a news channel also picked up by the WiiConnect24 feed; Wii ship channel for users to buy legacy Nintendo and newly-created games; an Internet channel (no explanation required); and a Wii message board where users can post messages to their friends, or just to their own family.
The channels are a jumping off point for every aspect of the system, and leave room for branding opportunities. In essence every piece of media downloaded to the system will be a new channel, so each game downloaded from the Wii Shop, for instance, will be on the dashboard. Since the system will be capable of persistent downloads and feeds, it presents the perfect opportunity for marketers to host a channel, unless it impedes on Nintendo’s own thoughts of brand.
As for in-game advertising, Fils-Aime put the onus on the third-party publishers, though NOA certainly has a lot to do with switching it on. He said it’s up to the third parties to manage advertising. He didn’t indicate when third-party titles will have access to online, which they won’t at first, and if in-game advertising is one of the reasons only first-party titles, or games published by Nintendo itself, will have online capability during the launch period.
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