Nintendo integrates Hackensack-based company's video technology into Wii U
Nov 26, 2012 (The Record (Hackensack - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Nintendo, Hackensack-based firm team up.
Nintendo has partnered with Hackensack-based Vidyo Inc. to integrate its videoconferencing technology into the new Wii U gaming system, making it the first system to incorporate video chats into video games.
The relationship began "roughly a year ago," said senior director of product marketing Mark Noble, when senior management officials from Nintendo, whose American headquarters is in Redmond, Wash., met with Vidyo, which has 250 global employees.
"It represents an opportunity to really expand the market and the total number of people who use video as a primary form of communication," Noble said.
This partnership takes video chatting from computer screens to TV screens. Microsoft, which owns Wii competitor Xbox, is said to be bringing Skype to its system soon, too.
Vidyo's open platform, making it easier for developers to incorporate the technology into their applications, and its lower costs were part of the reason Nintendo sought out Vidyo to be added to its first new video game system in six years, Noble said. Vidyo, in addition to its business-to-business conferencing solutions, also has partnered with Google for Google Hangouts.
Noble said he was unable to disclose the terms of the deal, announced last week, as they are confidential.
Scott Steinberg, head of business consulting firm TechSavvy, which has an office in New York, said the partnership is a win-win for both Nintendo and Vidyo as video communication will be more prevalent in the near future.
Vidyo has made it known that it wants to be in everyone's living room, and Nintendo "can actually provide a Trojan horse" to bring the service into homes, Steinberg said.
Like many gaming systems, Wii U is more than video games. Steinberg said.
"They're actually digital entertainment hubs for the living room," which makes access to video communication easier for people who might not be willing to use their iPhones or computers, he said.
Vidyo, founded in 2005, is cheaper than other video conferencing technologies because it is software-based, rather than hardware-based.
Wii U, which arrived in stores a week ago, priced at $299.99, features a new GamePad controller that has a touch screen. Users will be able to video chat using an Internet connection and the GamePad's built-in camera and microphone.
Nintendo expects to sell 5.5 million Wii U units by the end of the fiscal year.
Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America president and chief operating officer, said in a statement, "Wii U is an 'everyday' connected device -- offering a combination of games, entertainment, online connectivity and social activity that will make people want to interact with it daily."
The video chatting initially is intended for social functions, but Nintendo plans to incorporate it into its games, Noble said. For example, those using exercise game Wii Fit could interact with a live personal trainer, Noble said.
"The possibilities are endless," he said.
Steinberg said he expects the Wii U -- especially given the Nintendo enthusiasts out there -- to sell well during the holiday season. But it remains to be seen what its prospects are six months down the road, as the market for video gaming systems and video games remains competitive and also sees increasing pressure from tablets and smart phones.
"That's the big question mark," he said.
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