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Summary:

Nintendo unveiled its next-generation console today, with the Wii U, which features a tablet-like controller. We couldn’t help but think that Nintendo, far from innovating in this instance, borrowed liberally from the iPad and the way people use it for gaming and watching TV.

nintendo-wii-u-feature

Nintendo unveiled its next generation console today, with the Wii U. The Wii U has a new controller that features a 6.2-inch touchscreen built-in, which effectively acts as a tablet. We couldn’t help but think that Nintendo, far from innovating in this instance, borrowed liberally from the iPad and the way people use it for gaming and watching TV.

Two-screen gaming has a history that predates Apple’s iPad, and Nintendo proved that it works for portable gaming with the DS, which launched in 2004 and has been successful ever since, but the iPad is the one that made it make sense for TV gaming. Ever since Big Bucket Software used the iPad and the iPhone to create a working beta of The Incident running on one and controlled by the other, the potential for Apple to become a force in living room gaming seemed limited only by developer creativity. More recently, Real Racing HD 2 expanded on that concept with a true two-screen gaming experience for the iPad.

Nintendo Wii U extracts the two-screen experience from the model used by Real Racing HD 2 and discards most of the rest. The Wii U controller can’t act independent of the Wii U console, but it can handle gaming visuals entirely on its own screen, and it appears to support stylus input for functions beyond gaming, like drawing.

Making two-screen gaming the entire focus of Nintendo’s next-gen console is a very smart move at this point, since it’s happening before the concept takes off in a big way with iOS devices. It should work out well for Nintendo, but it could be even better for Apple device owners in the long run, if the Wii U concept inspires iOS developers to take two-screen gaming further.

Of course, gaming isn’t the only thing iPad users do in front of their TV. Television viewers have been distracting themselves with laptops and mobile phones for years, and the iPad was lends itself to be the ideal second screen device. Nielsen said in May that 70 percent of all tablet owners use their devices while watching TV. And last year, a study found that 86 percent of all mobile users access the Internet while watching TV.

Nintendo also added some media sharing features that were clearly inspired by efforts to use the iPad as a second-screen device. Wii U users will be able to flick photos and videos that they find online towards the TV to watch them on the big screen, something Yahoo demonstrated at this year’s CES, and a key feature of Apple’s AirPlay technology. And the handheld controller will feature a front-facing camera to give users a chance to video chat while watching TV — a feature that will sound familiar to any iPad user as well.

Nintendo obviously concentrated on gaming during the introduction of the Wii U, but we shouldn’t be too surprised if the new controller was being utilized for other kinds of second-screen activity like Twitter and Facebook that has so far been the domain of the iPad as well.

  1. Miyamoto claims to have come up with the idea ~4 years ago and to have never used an ipad.

    its basically the DS format in bigscreen home console form. Not an ipad ripoff

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  2. “Making two-screen gaming the entire focus of Nintendo’s next-gen console is a very smart move at this point, since it’s happening before the concept takes off in a big way with iOS devices.”

    Uuuhhh…. Devs have until the 2nd half of ’12, when the WiiU comes out to develop iOS 2-Screen Games, so its not really a fair competition, the iOS Game Center gets a big headstart…..

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  3. Gabrielle Haller Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    So…it’s like a Dreamcast?

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    1. The new meme is Apple invented everything, even when they didn’t. Just go with it.

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  4. Using the controller as a second screen? Welcome to 1999.

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  5. I agree, this headline is stupid…

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  6. feelingkettle Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Dreamcast aside, Nintendo also did this with a Legend of Zelda game for Gamecube which could be controlled with a Game Boy Advance back in 2004.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legend_of_Zelda:_Four_Swords_Adventures

    This is just another extention of past technology being improved on by Nintendo, much like motion gaming was originally used in the Power Glove, and 3d was originally used in the Virtual Boy.

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  7. james braselton Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    hi there yeah wii U will still se apple ipad aproch useing raly fast lighting fast flash storage for high read write speeds sony and microsoft needs fast read write speeds

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  8. aside from harking back to the dreamcast, nintendo also used a gameboy advance to gamecube and ds to wii as second screens well before apple came up with it. kinda sloppy reporting and misinformation on gigas part.

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  9. GAmeCube had games that used Gameboy as a controller. This will be first setup to have everything in the same box among other things.

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  10. You guys are crazy… There is a difference in multiscreen environment and video out…. I am not saying, Nintendo didn’t take a clue from Apple, but you should have come up with better reasoning if you are making this as headline…. All iPad examples are similar to usage of Laptop in office environment with Docking station.

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