Fast Chat: IGN’s Executive Editor Richard George

Nintendo expert talks Wii U, TVii

Did Nintendo just sneak into the battle for the digital living room?

During a press event in New York on Thursday, Nintendo finally unveiled some more specifics on the Wii U, its next generation console and sequel to the mega-successful but fading Wii. The U is coming on November 18. Two versions will be available, priced at $299 and $349. Lots of cool games are in the works.

Of course, we knew that the Wii U would employ a distinctive, tablet-esque controller. And as Adweek first reported, Nintendo had been talking to media companies about making the Wii U more of an entertainment hub.

But Nintendo suprised most watchers with Nintendo TVii. The platform appears aimed at simplifying, centralizing and socializing TV viewing. Users can access Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon, their DVRs and of course regular TV all in one easy to use interface. And they can even share what their watching with friends.

Adweek talked to IGN’s executive editor Richard George, who oversees the gaming site’s Nintendo coverage, about his initial impressions of the Wii U, and what it might mean for media and advertising.

Adweek: Are you surprised about how much of a push Nintendo is making when it comes to entertainment? Well, they actualy announced that the original Wii is the second biggest source of Netflix streaming traffic. I guess that surprised me a little bit. Although I bought a Wii for my parents a few years ago, and they tried some of the games like Wii Sports, but it’s since become their Netflix box. I suspect a lot of parents are like that.

You’ve been following the product since it was first announced. What’s your take on the Wii U’s potential overall? For me the Wii U has finally gelled. I’m a big Nintendo fan, and it’s what I cover for a living, but deep down I was sure about them revamping their entire lineup. You sort of always give them the benefit of the doubt. They’ve come back time and time again. And they’ve always been a game company.

So does TVii feel outside their character? It was sort of shocking, and not shocking. At first pass, it’s very smart. With Xbox and Sony and Apple and others, they’ve been such aggressive players in the TV space. Nintnedo’s almost approached this with a sense of humility. We’re going to take the TV you have and put it all together for you. Now, there is a large gap between showing this and doing it. But I thought that with Thursday’s announcement the whole picture made sense.

What about the potential consumer appetiite? It’s sort of expensive for Nintendo, but vs. an iPad, or an XBox and Surface Tablet, it’s not bad. The TVii is a real service. It kind of blew me away.

Do you think Nintendo will ever get into selling ads? Maybe. There was the briefest mention during their press conference of marketing their own games. This idea of, if you see a product, you flag it. You could see that being developed more. They are marketers at heart. Each of their games markets another game.