Wii to get new Pay and Play service

Plus: Nintendo channel coming to Europe.

Nintendo is to launch a new payment service for the Wii called Wi-Fi Connection Pay and Play.

It will enable you to buy WiiWare titles with Wii Points and is designed to be "simple and comfortable" to use.

Course, there's already a system in place for buying Virtual Console games with Wii Points. But Nintendo's decided a new service is needed for WiiWare so old biddies, small children and imbeciles don't download games without realising they have to pay for them.

The announcement came during a speech by Nintendo's Takashi Aoyama at the Game Developers Conference. He heads up the team developing internal programming for Wii such as the menu and channels.

Aoyama confirmed a Wii Fit channel is on the way, and said other games will also generate new channels when you boot up the disc. New information will appear on the channels each day, even if you have a different game disc inserted.

Japan is getting another new channel - one that shows TV programme listings to help you choose what to watch. "Sadly, we can't launch this service worldwide with all the same features as the Japanese version," Aoyama said, so there aren't any plans to bring it to Europe right now.

The Nintendo channel, which launched in Japan last November, is coming to Europe and North America "in the coming months". It will let you access screenshots and videos of new games and play demos of DS titles.

Once players have spent an hour playing a game, they'll have the right to rate it - one time only - via the Nintendo channel. With your permission, the channel will keep track of your play history and the data will be used to help you find new games you're likely to enjoy. That'll include WiiWare titles.

Speaking of which: "Like Virtual Console games, WiiWare games will be stored in the console internally and accessed as a channel from the Wii menu," and you can also store them on SD cards. You'll be able to access online manuals for WiiWare titles via the Wii Shop channel, and check them out before making purchase decisions so you know what you're buying.

As WiiWare games will only be available to those who have their Wii hooked up to Wi-Fi Connection, they'll be tailored for people who like teh Intanetz. Expect "a high level of affinity for online features" such as matching and ranking.

But the highlight of Aoyama's speech concerned the way the Wii's slot lights up when you get a new message from Nintendo. They're changing this to a brief sequence of flashes. The idea is the rhythm of the flashing will match the rhythm of the call of a bird named the Japanese bush warbler. We are not making this up. Apparently the bush warbler's call is heard in the spring and summer and is considered very beautiful.

So there you have it - a new payment system, a few more WiiWare tidbits and some random mentalness. Good old Nintendo.

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