Most future games to be offered in HD format?


If you haven’t already read Jack’s hidden costs of HDTV, do it now. Shoo! Otherwise, check out what Red Herring has to say on the issue of HD gaming: “Console makers are embracing HD because consumers want it—at least on their TVs. Research firm iSuppli pegs yearly worldwide shipments of HDTVs (720p and higher) at more than 103 million by 2008, up from 51.2 million this year and 27.7 million in 2005. Meanwhile, sales of analog CRTs—the industry’s old guard—still dominate but are rapidly declining.”

I actually agree with Jack and Ninty that while excellent quality, HD still needs to come down in price a bit before it catches on with the masses. If Nintendo gambled correctly, you can bet they’re planning to support HD with their next console. My only reservation is that Nintendo said online gaming wouldn’t catch on during the GameCube days (though it did) and touted the lackluster GBA link-up cable instead which consumers obviously never cared about. Any chance Nintendo’s current bet against HD could be the same this time? What if HD prices drop like a mug in a few years which would be the middle of Wii’s expected lifecycle? What implications, if any, could this have on Wii’s success?


  1. I think the extent to which online gaming caught on during the GameCube era is often overstated. Wikipedia says that to date, four million users have logged into Xbox Live since it launched. That sounds like a lot until you notice that Microsoft has sold 30 million consoles between the Xbox and the 360. 13% isn’t much of an adoption rate, and the unique-users statistic doesn’t say how many of those users are online regularly, or even if they ever logged in again after the first time.

  2. Online gaming geared towards consoles? For the most part, it is only XBox Live. Sony really never had a great online service for the PS2. So, in a way, online gaming never really caught on during the GameCube’s life cycle. It could catch on, although due to the Wii being 480p, HDTV’s will support that resolution so it won’t render your Wii useless. Just not the higher res.

  3. Online console gaming never caught on for the GC simply because Nintendo didn’t support it.

    If you take a look at all 3 consoles, the amount of support by the console maker ultimately determined how much support it got from developers and people who used it.

    Nintendo put no effort at all in supporting online and resulted in only one game going online.

    The PlayStation 2 had average support and that resulted in average support from developers.

    The Xbox had full support from Microsoft resulting in developers supporting Xbox Live.

    Sure, there’s only 4 million people that use Xbox Live, but considering how there aren’t too many games worth playing online for the Xbox and the fact that you had to pay for it, 4 million is pretty good.

    Imagine what the GC could have done if they had online especially when you consider how many games would have thrived online. ie F-Zero, Mario Party, the list goes on.

    Regarding, the future of HD in consoles, if prices for HDTVs continue to drop as they are now to the point where it becomes really affordable for the average consumer, Nintendo may be in trouble, but I don’t think it’ll be that bad.

    The only way for it to really hurt Nintendo is if 2-4 years down the line, developers still aren’t able to get graphics on their Wii games to at least like Resident Evil 4, people will start to really notice the difference in graphics and it will become a deciding factor in their purchase.

  4. Anon, good comment, but at the end when you mention graphics I just have to bring up the DS vs. PSP chestnut. If we’re just talking graphics, then its similar to the Wii vs. HD-enable console battle. Graphics didn’t win the war with the DS because it had great games. As long as that trend remains constant with the Wii then it’s golden. Even 2-3 years down the line.

  5. I think the only thing that HD catching on will do is make that bullet point on the back on the PS3 or 360 box a little more noticable. But unless Nintendo strives to make Wii games artistically unique and goes for surrealism over realism (like in Zelda TP and Heroes/Killer 7), then they can really be considered separate enough from the HD systems.

    The problem of having such weak hardware (by today’s standards) is that multiplatform titles will end up ruling the day when all is said and done, meaning that most people who have their multi-plat games on Wii will try to make it look as close to the other versions as possible. Wii can’t go toe to toe with them, as you can see now in Call of Duty 3, so Nintendo has to make sure there are more Elebits/Heroes/Trauma Center/HAMMER/Rayman/Disaster-type games on Wii that would persuade anyone who grimaces looking at the Wii version of Marvel Ultimate Alliance to still give the system a chance.

    The more direct ports they get, the less they help their own cause and the more they help the competition. More support for Nintendo on Wii is a double-edged sword. Side by side, no one wants to see CoD3 on Wii in HD after seeing the 360 version, much less play it. HD would magnify Wii’s scars, so to speak. As far as DS vs PSP, that doesn’t apply here in the same way because the discepancy is so much larger. There’s more than just the controller people should worry about.

  6. I suppose that makes sense. You can only do so much with handheld technology, where as consoles are more tricky to deal with.

    I hate to say this, but gamers are really spoiled. None of this would be a problem if we weren’t always trying to weigh the factors too much. I just try to be happy with what I can get.

    But I suppose that’s the way humans are.

  7. I think for this round, Nintendo’s gamble is fine. They never stated people don’t want HD, just that it in itself does not a great game make. (though technically 16:9 aspect ratio at 480p is still quite impressive)

    I think wide-spread adoption of HDTV really won’t take hold until the latter part of Wii’s life span, and who knows what it will have accomplished by then. The comparision of DS to PSP is an excellant analogy.

    Honestly, Sony’s reported offering of 1080p resolutions with really only frustrated those who feel they are missing out or “cheapening” there PS3 experience.

    Aaaaand if you really look into the technology being applied to supply this obscene resolutions, you’ll find that most televisions on the market now are “faking” the display with up-scaling/down-scaling math. At this point it’s very frustrating for the uninformed consumer, placing them at the mercy of the oft-times equally uninformed sales clerk…

  8. I’m from Europe so I can’t judge the market situation in North America but over here HDTV sales are slowly gaining momentum (while still around 5-10% of new TV sets).

    Personally I don’t plan to buy a HDTV before late 2008 (I’m talking 1080p 50 inch for a reasonable price). Also it’s not yet decided which DVD next-gen format is going to win (probably Blu-ray I guess, or maybe both or also a possiblity none and there is a third format/digital online distribution etc…)

    So basically in Europe you don’t have a HDTV source (note: only a few tv stations support 720p broadcast and the EU is planning to switch to full digital broadcast in 2010 to 2012!).

    While anyday I’ll say from my heart “gameplay > graphics” I have to admit that eye candy “HD graphics” are important.

    In the best case we’ll end up with all three console makers doing well – which would be the best for us customers.

    Personally I think PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii marketshare will be by 2010 almost similiar. Probably will Sony manage to stay a ahead but not by as wide a margin than with PS2.

  9. I think that for the average consumer the impact of HD is purely psychological: they are looking at a widescreen HDTV for the very first time at the stores running a 360 or a PS3 game and they go “WOW!” But many of these consumers already had an Xbox or a GameCube and never attempted to connect them to a widescreen HD TV with component cables, nor did the stores.

    rezlow is absolutely right: 16:9 aspect ratio at 480p resolution is quite impressive! But neither MicroSoft nor Nintendo pushed consumers too hard to try using that. If they had, today they would have to put two HDTVs side by side with the Wii on one and the 360 on the other with the same game for consumers to notice the difference. And between the 360 and the PS3, even with that kind of test you would have to look very carefully to notice the difference, and it would only be visible in a handful of games that actually use 1080p resolution.

    In short, what console makers are hearing from consumers is their first impressions of widescreen with progressive scan, not their first impressions of HD… because for consumers, all three came in at the same time!

    HD aside, the 360 and the PS3 have some graphic processing power that will make a visible difference in second generation games, but not because of their resolution or aspect ratio!