On a recent Infendo Radio, Blake and Scott discussed the possibility of Dreamcast downloads via the Virtual Console. They pretty much shot down the idea for a number of reasons, but I’d like to further examine just what Nintendo would need to do for this to happen.
It would seem that the size of Dreamcast games can range anywhere from 200 to 1,000 megabytes, so the first issue that needs to be addressed is storage. Wii’s internal 512MB of memory wouldn’t be able to hold many or, in some cases, any DC games so an external storage medium would be required. SD card usage on Wii is rather pathetic, being used only for photo viewing, game save and channel backups, or custom soundtracks in ExciteTruck. Nintendo would need to allow direct access to the SD from the Wii Channels to utilize DC games stored on a card. Even if they did that, it would still only allow you to have small amount of games per 1GB or 2GB SD card.
An external USB hard drive would cost more, but would open many doors. Not only could you store hundreds of Dreamcast and other VC titles, but storing some music or videos on it would probably result in a Media Player Channel. Bring it on, I say, just as long as we aren’t required to buy a Nintendo-branded (and probably expensive) external USB hard drive.
Even with the storage problem solved, getting the games onto your console would require some revamping of their system. Currently, you can download Virtual Console titles, but their file size is relatively small (less than 64MB in most cases). Downloading a large Dreamcast game would take a long time. Xbox Live Marketplace offers HD movie downloads, so it’s not out of the question that Nintendo could beef up their servers and offer these as downloads to buyers that are willing to wait.
One final solution would be software Dreamcast emulation. Buying a Dreamcast emulator from the Wii Ware part of the Shopping Channel might be tempting to a very small market, but it has the potential for people to play Dreamcast discs (legal or otherwise) on their Wii.
The amount of trouble a user would need to go through to play Dreamcast games on their Wii is the most prohibitive aspect. Quite simply, the market for this is so limited that it’s unlikely Nintendo and Sega would ever go through the effort required to offer Dreamcast (or Saturn) games for Wii. So tell us, Infriendos: Do you think we’ll ever see Dreamcast games on Wii?