Japan's Wii Video is No YouTube or Hulu

By  |  Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 2:38 pm


There appears to be a world domination plot afoot with Nintendo’s “Wii no Ma” video service, which will launch next week in Japan.

Until now, details on the service were slim, other than an announced partnership between Nintendo and media giant Dentsu to produce original content. The full scoop, revealed on Nintendo’s Japanese Web site and conveniently translated by Andria Sang, talks of a virtual world that blends eerily with the real.

The channel places Mii characters in a living room, where time passes by in equal proportion to the outside world. This is the hub for various other services offered in the channel. Foremost is the video channel, providing paid and ad-supported shows, as previously reported. Partner companies will have their own content, accessed by clicking on a plant in the room, as well as product samples that can be delivered to a pre-entered real world address. Weirder still, celebrities will occasionally visit the virtual home as “concierges” peddling additional programming.

In addition, DSi owners will be able to sync the handheld to the channel and download virtual coupons, which can be redeemed at participating retailers.

This is all pretty wild stuff — sort of like Second Life, but much more restrained — and you have to wonder how much of it, if any, will make it out of Japan. I can see the original content coming west, as it allows Nintendo to bypass the licensing kerfuffles that are making a mess of existing online video sites. And the delivery system is smart, drawing families in with another channel for their Miis.

But samples in the mail? Celebrity avatars invading your virtual home? They could be failures stateside, or Nintendo could strike gold again. I won’t venture a prediction.

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