Wired interviewed Nintendo Vice-President of Marketing & Corporate Affairs, Perrin Kaplan, to ask a few questions that weren’t addressed in yesterday’s New York Wii press conference. Very interesting questions, but what we REALLY want to know is if the Virtual Console is region free, so everyone can download Japanese, American & European classics.
Will the Wii be region-free?
Yes. Like the Nintendo DS, the Wii will be able to play games from other regions, such as Japan, without any restriction. Kaplan implied there might be a region lock that publishers would be able to flip on, but it doesn’t sound like the first-party titles from Nintendo will be restricted. (take note that only Nintendo does this so far, third-parties can still lock it, but let’s hope the releases get closer together globally this console generation, so there’s no need for region locks in games anymore) -This yes answer was later proven false, Wii will NOT be region-free.
Will games downloaded from the Virtual Console store be tied to an account like Xbox Live or a one-time-only download like iTunes?
Tied to an account. (So that’s where Reggie’s comment of buying them once, owning them forever, came from :)) Kaplan discussed a scenario where a player’s Wii was broken or destroyed, but would be able to re-download titles they had previously bought to a new Wii machine. Because my left leg was burning from an accidental Zippo oil spill, I neglected to ask if a user would be able to log into friends’ Wiis and play their Virtual Console downloads away from their home machine.
Will Wii users be able to add storage via USB hard drives?
No. The Wii’s storage will be exclusively via flash memory storage, such as SD memory cards, at least at launch. (that’s not too bad, these SD cards now range into the gigabytes) Kaplan said a hard drive addition could be in the future, but that sounds more like a “Sure, why not?” response than one based in any immediate plans.
How much will Opera cost?
Unknown. No price has yet been set for the download-able Opera web browser, but it sounds like it could very well be free, once Nintendo finishes discussions with Opera. (in Japan Opera will be free on the Wii until June 2007, maybe we’ll see something similar in other territories)