Angry Birds, Apple and the WiiU Controller

Written By: E. Thomas

06/01/2012

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Secrets Revealed:

Since the day it was revealed at the 2011 E3 Expo there has been a great deal of mystery surrounding the Nintendo WiiU controller. What was the purpose of creating a tablet controller? How would it be used in games? And what kind of content would be created for this unique controller?

There were so many unanswered questions that the industry started to doubt the future of the WiiU. There were rumors of a name change and a "re-launch." And one major industry analyst even claimed the company was "in disarray" and said that Nintendo was losing ground to social games.

This is when I decided to research the topic for myself, and what I have found will reveal the secrets of the WiiU controller. It will also silence the industry critics who are unaware of the true intentions of Nintendo.

Miyamoto Loves Angry Birds:

Recently Shigeru Miyamoto was asked to pick his favorite non-Nintendo video game. His response was Angry Birds. He continued to heap praise on Rovio, the developer of Angry Birds, saying "What I like about Angry Birds is that it has a traditional videogame [feel] to it, but also a very creative side. And you can really feel that they’re having fun developing the game. That's what I like about it." [source]

This is a surprisingly positive comment from a man who works for Nintendo. The President of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, has openly condemned so called "cheap [mobile] games" and has even claimed they are bad for the industry. Nintendo as a company has publicly decried mobile gaming for several years. Why the sudden change of heart? It all has to do with the WiiU controller.

Why Angry Birds is the Secret Weapon of the Wii-U:

If Nintendo is to reclaim the market share stolen by social games and mobile gaming market, they need to start with the biggest game of them all, Angry Birds. The words of Shigeru Miyamoto prove there is an obvious synergy between Nintendo and Rovio. They are both focused on the same goals, and they both have a similar appeal. Rovio and Nintendo are also going after the same target audience. Here are two companies that are destined to work together for greatly profitable mutual benefit.

The Marketing Angle:

Slap Angry Birds on the WiiU box, include it as a pack-in, and the WiiU is guaranteed to sell millions. The announcement of a Nintendo and Rovio partnership would generate huge media buzz, it would also create tons of free press for both companies. This story would be carried by every media outlet in the World. I also guarantee a rise on stock price for both companies, and the best part is this game can actually be used as a trojan horse for both Nintendo and Rovio. Nintendo gets to bring quality, app style gaming to video game consoles, and Rovio finally gets to conquer the living room TV.

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That controller looks kind of familiar...

The Roku Streaming Media Player comes with Angry Birds as a pack-in game. This device proves there is a demand for Angry Birds on the living room TV. It also shows the potential for Angry Birds to evolve and become a TV based, "family & friends" experience. Unfortunately the Roku player isn't ideal for a game like Angry Birds which requires real precision. Hardcore fans of the series will likely prefer the touch or PC based versions of this game. This WiiU tablet is the perfect way to bring Angry Birds to the living room TV. It overcomes the limitations of the Roku player, and yet it would provide a gaming experience on par with mobile, tablets and PC.

Angry Birds is also on PlayStation Network. But its the WiiU controller that makes it perfect for the living room experience. Unfortunately Sony hasn't been able to capitalize on this property. Sony is often a company that innovates but then fails to follow through on the potential of their ideas.

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Coming Soon to a Living Room Near You

Of course the 900 pound Gorilla in the room is Apple. iOS devices have a feature called AirPlay. This allows games to be played on the living room TV using an iOS device (iPhone, iPad) and the Apple TV console. For now this concept is limited to games with AirPlay support, but its only a matter of time before they're all available to play on the living room TV, and thus Apple creates a direct competitor for every game console on the market. This is why Nintendo needs to act quickly. This relatively new concept is just gaining steam, and if Nintendo waits too long, kids and families across the country will be playing all their iOS games, including Angry Birds, on the living room TV using Apple hardware.

Apple VS Nintendo: The Coming Storm

Everything Nintendo is doing with the WiiU controller is being done to combat Apple in the living room space. Nintendo has already called Apple "the enemy of the future." [source] The WiiU controller already does many things currently being done by Apple iPad + Apple TV. Should Apple finally decide to "jump in" to the living room market, Nintendo will be ready when they arrive.

The WiiU controller is designed to counter the iPad. And if you have children, or know someone who does, then you understand why Nintendo is trying to compete with the iPad. Children are obsessed with smart phones and tablet computers. Specifically the Apple brand hardware.

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Even the name WiiU is inspired by the Apple "i" branding. Both the "iProducts" and the WiiU brand refer directly to the individual. (For example "i-pad" and "wii-you.") Some people even claim that Nintendo is inspired by the aesthetic style of Apple products. But that's an argument best left for another article. No matter how you feel about the subject, its obvious that Nintendo is getting ready for a battle with Apple. And the fight doesn't end with the video game market.

Movies, Music, Media and More:

The WiiU controller is also the perfect way to browse a media library such as Netflix or Hulu+. We also expect Nintendo will continue its Nintendo Channel programming which is currently found on the Wii. This will be a great way to browse and view that content, whether its on your living room TV or on the tablet itself. And Nintendo may even be motivated to expand the content of the Nintendo channel, simply because the tablet will make it easy to browse a large media catalog. Nintendo could even create games that allow the gamer to play along with a Nintendo TV show. And the best part is, all of this media content gives Nintendo a way to strike back against Apple by capturing some of the media content currently available on the app store. I'm not saying Nintendo is going to steal any sales from Apple, but they will certainly be able to protect their own share of the market.

Nintendo In Disarray?:

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Michael Pachter: Sometimes he right about stuff, not always though...

Recently industry analyst Michael Pacther claimed Nintendo was in "disarray" over the WiiU. [Source] He also claimed the company was losing ground to social games. While he is right on the second point, he is wrong when he says the company is in disarray. Nintendo knows exactly what they're doing when it comes to fighting the growth of social gaming. The WiiU controller is the perfect way to bring that very same social gaming content into the living room. Almost any social game for PC or tablet can now be transported to the WiiU. Nintendo can even create their own app store, and offer much of the same content you find on Apple or Android hardware.

Apps on the WiiU Tablet:

Nintendo has already shown that the WiiU controller can be used separately from the WiiU console. We have already seen two examples of this concept, first there is the ability to play a console game on the controller, and second there is the ability to play games specifically for the WiiU tablet. This second point will open a "pandora's box" on the gaming industry. The WiiU controller will also function as an app device.

And the fun doesn't end with videos games, other "social content" will arrive on the WiiU. Social media like Facebook and Twitter are the first things that come to mind. As are multimedia apps like YouTube, Vimeo, and Crackle. And what about things like eBay or even the home shopping channel? If your Grandma liked playing Wii Sports, she will love browsing the home shopping channel using the WiiU tablet.

The potential for apps is limitless. And by tethering the apps to the living room TV screen it will socialize the experience, and make it something that can be shared with family and friends. And of course, if you want your privacy, you can always go into "tablet only mode" that way you get the best of both words. You get the social experience or the "we" angle, and you get the personal experience, or the "you" angle. Now you truly understand the name "WiiU."

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Chinese Companies See It Coming:

Does our lead image look familiar to some of you? It should. The JXD S7100 Andoid Tablet is a Wii-U clone. Its marketing features Angry Birds, although we doubt they have the license. In my research I have found many potential WiiU clones currently on their way to the market. The companies behind these products can see the potential in the WiiU controller. Just as they capitalized on the appeal of the original Wii Controller.

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Anything You Can Do...

And Microsoft, one of Nintendo's competitors, is rumored to have their own tablet on the way. We also expect Sony will pair the PS Vita with the PS3 to combat the release of the WiiU. So its not just opportunistic Chinese companies that are following Nintendo's lead, but also the major players. Just like last gen.

The Final Product:

The final product will have the best of both worlds. The WiiU will have all the traditional content plus all the new social media and mobile content. And everything will be on one device. Hardcore gamers need not worry, we expect Nintendo will create a new version of their Super Classic Controller, for use with traditional content and Nintendo Virtual Channel Games. So fret not, you can actually have your cake and eat it too.

Update #1: On Sunday June 3rd, Nintendo revealed the WiiU Pro Controller, for use with traditional multi-platform games. [Source]

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Update #2: On Monday June 4th, Microsoft announced a new tablet and mobile app called "Xbox Smart Glass." [Source

Update #3: On Thursday June 7th, The Escapist reports that Activision is working on an HD version Angry Birds for home consoles. This all but confirms a WiiU version. [Source]

Update #4: On Monday June 18th, Microsoft announced their new "Surface Tablet." [Source] It is certain that this tablet will interface with both the current Xbox 360 and its rumored successor dubbed "Xbox 720" or "Xbox 10."

Update #5: On September 13th, Nintedo unveiled Nintendo TVii. This new application works with your Wii U controller. It allows you to control your TV and browse the video content both online and on your DVR / TiVO. [Video]

Update #6:On October 2nd 2012, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said publicly that he expects social networking to be the "killer app" of the Nintendo Wii U. Of course this is old news if you've been following our site. [Source]

Update #7: On Feb 15th, 2013 Activision and Rovio have confirmed a Wii U version of Angry Birds Trilogy. [Source] Remember folks, you heard it here first.

Update #8: On May 6th, 2013 The Japan Times is reporting that Nintendo is working to bring mobile apps to the Nintendo Wii U. [Source] Of course, once again, you heard it here first.  

About The Author: E.Thomas is our resident investigative reporter. He will go to great lengths to get a story, even if it means hoping the red eye to China just to get an exclusive scoop.