Just noticed over on Shacknews this morning that Rock Band is dated for a June 22 release on the Wii.
Unfortunately the Wii version will lack both downloadable content and online play. Furthermore rumors abound that both character customization and world tour mode are missing as well. While the core gameplay will remain I have to wonder if such a gimped version of the game is really worth the effort. Given the rapidly decreasing prices, and rapidly increasing capacity, in memory cards I think that downloadable tracks should be possible on some level. It wouldn’t be as ideal as a hard drive but it could work.
I grow increasingly worried at the longevity of the Wii. While Nintendo has created a product able to bring gaming to the masses they have hobbled their system with poor support for online gaming and other content. With its simple interface and intuitive controls I could see the Wii being the centerpiece of an entertainment center but with its minimal native storage space and lack of HD support this idea seems woefully underdeveloped. I have heard far too many horror stories about the friend code system, and the lack of an online infrastrucure, in an industry that is becoming ever more dependent on cooperative and competitive online content, is going to seriously hurt in the long run.
Innovation is great. Unfortunately innovation that comes while ignoring worthwhile industry trends is dangerous at best, and suicidal at worst. Things aren’t all grim. Nintendo, and other developers, seem to have recognized the problem and tried to rectify it with online support for some games. SSB: Brawl and Guitar Heor 3 both feature online support, and the upcoming Mario Kart will feature it as well. But again, all three are sidled with Friend Code system and, as I’ve frequently heard in the case of Brawl, servers woefully inadequate to handle player demand. What online play does exist is eerily silent; in world where voip is increasingly mainstream playing games online in silence is becoming almost a foreign experience.
I’m not sure how one would go about rectifying this problem. That is assuming Nintendo sees it as a problem. Software update? Dare I say it…new hardware? (whether it be in add-on form, a venue Nintendo has experimented with in the past, or a different “flavor” of the Wii).
Virtual Console married to the player communication and coordination functions of Microsoft’s Live service would be a match made in gamer heaven but Nintendo hasn’t said a word whether it plans any modification of its online services. They have been quiet on the new Wii announcements (to my knowledge Mario Kart remains the only big title on the horizon) and I await anxiously for new from the big N on their next big step.