Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has confirmed that an ad-supported Wii video service will launch in Japan this month, and will spread to other regions in the future -- as well as onto the DSi handheld.
In a Japanese language video (translation on consumer site GameSpot
), Iwata said the video delivery service -- dubbed Wii no Ma, would launch today in Japan "and then expand to other regions." The exec gave no specific dates for Western territories.
Iwata's announcement comes after news emerged that Nintendo signed a deal
with advertising firm Dentsu for ad-supported videos.
In an attempt to stay in line with Wii's user-friendly theme, Iwata said Wii no Ma will feature a virtual "tea room" where Miis gather to watch the videos. The Wii Remote will feel familiar to new users, like a TV remote, so using the technology should be non-intimidating. Iwata said 87 percent of Japanese families who have a Nintendo Wii have it in their living room.
That user-friendliness, he hopes, will make the Wii's video service more appealing than those of PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, which all feature very capable video delivery solutions. "There is no point in duplicating a video PC delivery service...there is no point competing with YouTube or 24-hour channels," he said.
On board with Wii no Ma are five Tokyo TV networks. Iwata also said users can expect anime and manga content in the future.
In order to expand upon the community aspect of the service, users will be able to rate videos and recommend them to friends via a "Wii no Ma Concierge" who pops into the tea room to make viewing suggestions.
Users will also be able to transfer video content to the new DSi handheld for portable viewing.
The Wii no Ma Channel is a free download for Japanese users, and will also allow companies to deliver their own advertising in certain virtual spaces.
"Broadly defined, Wii no Ma is a service which delivers video to the consumer, funded by ads," Iwata said. "It's meant to be enjoyed by the whole family without taking up to much [of their] energy."