We’re still yet to know the full force of Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U and what it’ll be able to do with all its fancy new insides but the general consensus from the big N to Sony and Microsoft is “anything you can do, we can do better… or at least similar.” One area Nintendo could choose to pursue is that of 3D TVs, a place Sony is claiming dominance in this generation but for Nintendo, it isn’t something they’re all that fussed about even though the Wii U is technically capable of supporting 3D.
President Satoru Iwata told the Mercury News (via My Nintendo News): “If you are going to connect Wii U with a home TV capable of displaying 3-D images, technologically, yes, it is going to be possible, but that’s not the area we are focusing on.” The immediate thought which springs to mind is why would they? They already have the 3DS which champions a future of glasses-free 3D media and use this fact in its marketing. Iwata touched on this when giving his full reasonings against the idea of a 3D TV experience: “When it comes to 3D, we already have the 3DS, and each owner of the Nintendo 3DS is capable of viewing 3D images. However, when it comes to the home console, it depends upon the availability of 3D TV sets at home, which, unfortunately, is not expanding enough.”
He summed up his point by saying it would be a waste of time and money to focus on making the Wii U 3D compatible out the box and instead prefers to dedicate their time to enable “each Wii U owner being able to have an equal opportunity to enjoy it.” A little ironic when a Wii U owner may not be one person but a whole family and that family will have to share the unique controller since only one comes with the machine and won’t be available to buy on their own. But still, Nintendo’s hesitance to follow a new trend in technology is why the Wii became so popular and also why the Wii U is desperately needed. Rather than developing a machine for HD TVs, Nintendo chose to stick with standard definition because five or so years ago, the penetration of high def televisions was significantly lower than SD. As time went by, Plasma and LCD screen became the norm and the Wii started looking less and less impressive. Now we’re at a similar split in the market with 3D TVs yet to really prove themselves.
However, I do think there is a little difference and Nintendo maybe right to not worry about 3D just yet. While there’s a number of TVs capable of showing 3D, there isn’t a massive incentive to upgrade if you already have an HD TV. The crossover from standard definition sets was driven by things like Blu-Ray discs and a growing number of HD televisions stations. But broadcasting in 3D takes a lot more bandwidth and what we have in place is already struggling, be it via something like Sky or the internet. So leaving this functionality out might not be as problematic for Nintendo as it was to hold off from HD graphics. Then again, for the sake of not repeating the past, it may be in beneficial for them to at least make it so the Wii U can be patched to include it at a later date if needed.