Posted on April 26 2011 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
I’ll let Sam Kennedy from 1Up here do the talking folks:
With Project Cafe, Nintendo aims to create the first social game console. What do I mean by this? Well, here’s where you have to start imagining the future with me. First off, no more friend codes, that’s for damn sure. But start to think about what a company like Nintendo would want to do to have players gaming and sharing together. Take a look at what it’s done with StreetPass on the 3DS (where players’ items and achievements can be shared with others nearby even when the system is closed) and think about what it could do on its next connected console. Nintendo merely scratched the surface with its Mii parade (where peoples’ virtual avatars could migrate to others’ machines) and user generated polls on the Wii—5 years later, the company has much more ambitious plans. The new console will be designed around the concept of connecting, sharing, and gaming with others. Like you were gaming together in a café, if you will.
But here’s where things get potentially even cooler. Imagine seeing your friend’s game in one of the screens. You click on it, and—provided you have the game too—you then seamlessly join his or her game. No waiting until the next match and no buffering to sync up consoles. Just a seamless online experience, exactly as Nintendo would want it. And the beauty of this is that the concept extends to not only new games, but potentially Nintendo’s back catalog of classics. Got a friend racing the AI in Super Mario Kart? What if the game was retrofitted so that you could hop right in at any given moment? That, my friends, may well be the promise of Project Cafe.
And then there’s the whole aspect of content sharing. Sony kicked things off nicely with LittleBigPlanet, but there’s obviously so much more that could be done with a console designed around social gaming. One of the features I remember Nintendo touting in the early days of the Wii that never really materialized was the ability to push content to the console since it’s always on. Sure, we ended up with emails telling us what we played and what not, but the concept was supposed to be so much more—you were supposed to be able to check your machine each day and have new things waiting for you. So now, imagine checking your Project Cafe each morning and seeing new creations from your friends or even Nintendo. New levels for games, new characters or items to use, new demos for games you’re interested in—there could be all sorts of new things to see and do each time you open your console. I’m telling you, whether Nintendo pulls this off or not, there’s a console experience here that’s far more enticing than the one we’re used to today.
And that’s the thing I want to make clear about all of this: I really have no idea how much of this Nintendo will actually achieve with its new console. Again, Nintendo is hardly a company with a proven track record when it comes to online. But Nintendo does get social experiences, and if it’s really ready to take the plunge on consoles, I believe it could revolutionize the market again, just as it did with the motion control interface last generation.
So when Stream or whatever it’s eventually called is finally released and not everything is exactly as I hypothesized here, don’t be shocked or disappointed. I just wanted to give you a taste of some of the rumblings I’ve heard, if only to paint a picture of what could be, regardless of how it ultimately takes shape. But I can at least assure you of two things: 1. This is absolutely the direction Nintendo is headed with its next console, and 2. Regardless of whether this all materializes in Project Cafe or in some console or handheld later, the future of social gaming as envisioned by Nintendo is sounding pretty darn exciting.
This is all based, as he points out on what he has heard from inside sources. Even if things don’t turn out exactly as he is hoping, it’s clear Nintendo is really trying to take online gaming beyond even the level that Xbox Live and PSN do it. Nintendo is committing to online with the Cafe, and looks to provide an online experience you’ve never seen before.