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Nintendo unveils Wii video service

Iwata to put a smile on everyone's face.

Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata has unveiled Wii-no-Ma, the Wii and DSi video-on-demand service he teased us about earlier in the month.

The service rolls out on Friday 1st May across Japan, and overseas deployment is planned in "the future".

"Wii-no-ma symbolises a space where people stay together, smiling." said Iwata during a Japanese video presentation (translated by Nintendo). He added that the two "i" of "Wii" represent people together, and that "ma" expresses a smile.

Nintendo, ambitiously, will only offer new content on Wii-no-Ma, although Iwata said Japanese stations have agreed to provide shows as they see the service as "not hostile".

"It might seem unprecedented to launch a video broadcasting service with such limited programs," said Iwata, "But from other viewpoint, it turns out that good programs can easily stand out.

"We are going to increase it gradually," he added.

Wii-no-Ma is a Wii Channel, and each instance can be populated by eight Mii avatars. Users can sort content by newly-added or recommended, or have content suggested to them by Concierge Miis - celebrity or famous-people avatars that visit Wii-no-Ma instances. We're assuming these are AI-controlled.

Select "watch" to view the content and then give your rating at the end. This user-evaluation will help sort the wheat from the chaff.

There's also the option to transfer the content to DSi after watching. This can then be stored on DSi or SD memory and either watched on-the-fly or transferred to a friend's DSi or Wii.

This DSi software - dubbed Dokodemo Wii-no-Ma - will be downloaded from the DSi shop.

"All the services are free of charge at the beginning," Iwata went on to reveal. "We are also preparing to start programs with small amount of payment in the future.

"In order to establish free-of-charge system, we have invented advertisement system in Wii-no-Ma. But in a different way."

Wii-no-Ma will transfer player-Miis to "partner companies'" areas after they watch a video, where they will be confronted by 12 screens - a bit like those futuristic monitor set-ups owned by James Bond baddies.

Once there, users select what type of advertisement they want to watch, ranging from casting videos to questionnaires and from vouchers to product samples. These samples can be mailed directly to physical addresses, and vouchers can be transferred onto DSi and redeemed in real-life shops.

Iwata talks of the advertising as a "form of entertainment" that users are "actively eager to watch". And under no circumstances will adverts be forced on the user without their consent.

"Wii-no-Ma is an unprecedented new service," concluded Iwata. "Even we cannot imagine how fast it will spread.

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

You can watch Wii-no-Ma in action over on the official Wii website.

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Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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