Nintendo Gets Into Media Convergence With…Books?

By  |  Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 11:21 am

mariobooksWhen it comes creating machines that do more than play games, Nintendo never shared the eagerness of its competitors. Thinking back, I can’t recall any of their consoles or handheld devices offering other entertainment media besides games.

That’s why the deal between Nintendo and book publisher HarperCollins, to release the 100 Classic Book Collection for the Nintendo DS handheld, is such a surprise.

Really, though, it’s pretty clever. You pop in the cartridge, flip the DS on its side so the dual screens are aligned horizontally, like a book, and use your finger and the touchscreen to thumb through the virtual pages of Dickens,  Shakespeare, and much more. And does your Amazon Kindle play video games when you grow tired of reading? Thought not.

It makes sense from a practical standpoint, which helps explain why Nintendo is bucking its “gameplay above all” philosophy to do it. The DS could probably handle some sort of video capabilities to compete with the Sony PSP’s UMD format. Likewise, Nintendo could devise a streaming video service for the Wii and has suggested the possibility of DVD functionality. But you’d need servers to stream video, a major marketing push to sell new handheld video formats, a firmware update or new console generation to support DVD. None of that sits well with the company’s classic approach to gaming systems.

In any case, Nintendo doesn’t need to offer any of those non-gaming perks; they are outselling Sony’s handheld and the other two consoles, after all. So instead of branching into potential pitfalls like music and video, the Big N is providing a much simpler alternative — the written word.

Maybe it’s not such a surprise after all.


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. David Says:

    You would not need a new console generation to support DVD playback on the Wii. Homebrew software already allows the Wii to play DVD’s. All Nintendo needs to do is release an update and the Wii will double as a DVD player.

  2. Jared Newman Says:

    Nintendo said to GameDaily back in 2006 that existing Wii owners would need “more than a firmware upgrade” to get DVD functionality (If/when that happens. The same thing was supposed to happen for the Gamecube). Whether the homebrew “mplayer” changes things, I don’t know. Something tells the solution won’t be as simple as a quick patch or software download.

    It is true that homebrew solutions are available for a variety of things not promoted by the Big N, but this article is more about Nintendo’s approach for the common denominator of users. A homebrew book reader is already available on the DS too, you know. 🙂

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