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Iwata: New Wii features to further expand gaming population

Wii's video service part of a larger effort to improve social 'receptivity'

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has revealed the strategy behind the upcoming Wii-no-Ma video service in Japan, saying that it is part of a larger initiative to improve social awareness of videogames and combat illogical criticism against the medium.

In a video statement released today on the Japanese version of Wii.com, Iwata reaffirmed Nintendo's plans to continue increasing the population of videogame players by further broadening the market with new initiatives and programs.

"I believe many people can find Nintendo's approach to 'expand gaming population' has been realised with Nintendo DS and Wii. At the same time, we are facing the challenge to do it continuously," said Iwata, adding that "As the range of customers has expanded so widely, their likes and intentions are much more diversified than before."

Nintendo believes that in order to continue expanding the gaming population, it is necessary to keep those who do not wish to play "at least in contact" with videogames, which the company hopes to do with the upcoming Wii-no-Ma video service.

According to Nintendo's research, 87 per cent of Wii consoles are connected to the largest television screen in its household, typically the living room, where families - gamer and non-gamer - tend to gather.

Wii-no-Ma, which launches May 1 in Japan, is a video broadcasting service that generates revenue from advertisements. According to Iwata, Nintendo recognises that it cannot compete with services such as YouTube in the amount of conent available, and will instead rely on unique features in its program.

Though the number of programs available at launch will be small in number, they will all be original and exclusive. According to Iwata, this decision was made because viewers are unlikely to use the Wii to watch programs available elsewhere, and Nintendo hopes to make the service habitual before launching repeated and legacy content, which five Tokyo stations have already signed on to provide.

Iwata also outlined the advantages for both video content developers and advertisers, saying that the former gets a much richer feedback system than television ratings and the latter can customise the amount of messaging available to the end user, who can opt in to consume as little or as much of the messaging as desired. Nintendo also hopes to expose highly rated Japanese Wii-no-Ma programs to other countries, once similar video programs are launched globally.

"As Japanese videogames, anime or manga are very favoured all over the world, we also anticipate a great possibility of same spread for video programs," said Iwata.

"To maintain Wii as 'a console which puts smiles on everyone's faces surrounding it,' we aim to go forward steadily in a long term and to change the relationship between family, TV and the internet," Iwata concluded.

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Frank Cifaldi