Wii 2: Next Nintendo console confirmed for 2012

Wii 2, Project Cafe, or whatever the successor to the hyper-popular Wii is called, will go on sale in 2012, Nintendo announced this week.

Wii 2 consoles will ship in 2012, Nintendo confirmed today. The next generation Wii –– which is reportedly being developed under the name Project Cafe –– could outperform even the high-powered Sony PlayStation 3. Here, a user tries out the original Nintendo Wii.

Wii 2 rumors have been burbling around the Web for a few months –– some speculation about launch titles here, some gossip about graphical capability there. (Most recently, Game Informer magazine predicted that the Wii 2, or whatever the thing is called, will be revealed at the annual E3 expo in June.) Want some proof? Here's your proof: A letter (PDF) from the folks at Nintendo, revealing their intent to build "a system to succeed Wii."

Concrete details are scarce. The Wii 2 will go on sale next year; the console will be ready for demo by E3 time, as the Game Informer people correctly intuited. Unsubstantiated gossip is easier to come by. Scott Lowe at IGN –– who spoke to folks familiar with the next Nintendo console –– says the device "could have a retail price of anywhere between $350 and $400 based on manufacturing costs, and will ship from Taiwanese manufacturer, Foxconn."

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Lowe puts the exact release date at late in 2012, so die-hard Nintendo fans will have to be patient. More from Lowe:

Additionally, IGN has learned that the system will be based on a revamped version of AMD's R700 GPU architecture, not AMD's Fusion technology as previously believed, which will, as previously reported, out perform the PlayStation 3's NVIDIA 7800GTX-based processor. Like the Xbox 360, the system's CPU will be a custom-built triple-core IBM PowerPC chipset, but the clocking speeds will be faster. The system will support 1080p output with the potential for stereoscopic 3D as well, though it has not been determined whether that will be a staple feature.

If Lowe is right, Project Cafe –– the code name given to the test version of the new Wii –– will be a serious gaming machine, leaps and bounds above the decidedly under-powered first-generation Nintendo Wii.

"In total, the specs should be enough to put the Wii 2 in direct graphical competition with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3," David Murphy notes over at PC World. "That'll be a welcome relief for gamers that prefer better-looking titles: A common criticism of Nintendo's predecessor platform was that the look and feel of the Wii's games was a step back from the more realistic environments found in games for the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3."

And the time is ripe for Nintendo: According to a new report from Kotaku, Microsoft and Sony won't refresh their console lines until 2014, leaving the Wii 2 plenty of time to bask in the spotlight.

Interested in the future of motion-sensing peripherals and platforms? Check out this report on where all this motion commotion is headed. In the meantime, to stay abreast of the big tech news, sign up for the free weekly Innovation newsletter, which is emailed out every Wednesday.

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