Nintendo plans to launch an online-news service for the Wii game console, featuring news stories and photographs primarily from the Associated Press.
The service, called the Wii News Channel, will be available in multiple languages and is expected to launch on January 27. It will let Wii owners spin a virtual globe and point to a location of a news event using the Wii remote, or Wiimote.
Stories will be divided into categories, such as technology, science, business, sports, and entertainment. Dozens of stories will be available for each category at any given time, and stories also can be grouped by region instead of by category.
Icons will show which stories have been read, and indicate the articles that are accompanied by photographs. By using the Wii's "always-on" system functionality, the console's news stories will be updated automatically.
Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said that Nintendo hopes the Wii will become a major news provider. "What Wii has done for video gaming, we hope it will also accomplish for news," he said in a statement. "Just by pointing at your TV screen, you become your own interactive editor, instantly access the latest headline stories, whether they originate in Kansas City or Kyoto."
The Associated Press also expressed enthusiasm about partnering with Nintendo, calling the news channel's creation an innovative way to expand its audience and have greater global reach, especially for those who might otherwise not read the news.
There are no immediate plans to sell advertising space, according to news reports, although such a move could be part of future plans.
The addition of news into a game is not surprising, because the large vendors like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have been working to find ways to make their gaming experiences unique, said Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg.
"People don't buy the consoles for these little additions, but they help set a console apart," he noted. "Anything a game developer can do to be differentiated, and add to the user experience, they'll do."
The integration of online content with gaming has been a key focus of the game console makers, who have been eager to expand audiences beyond just hardcore gamers. "Game console makers have realized that they can draw in more people by offering content other than just games," said Gartenberg.