Wii U Will Not Play Blu-ray Or DVD Discs, And Here’s Why

One of the PS3’s most attractive features is its ability to play Blu-ray movies. The PS3 and Xbox 360 can of course play films on DVD too, making them ideal entertainment hubs for the living room.

But Nintendo have a history of taking a different path, and unsurprisingly this trend will continue with their next console. “[The] Wii U does not have DVD or Blu-ray playback capabilities,” Nintendo President Satoru Iwata told investors.

The reason behind this appears to be quite simple:

We feel that enough people already have devices that are capable of playing DVDs and Blu-ray, such that it didn’t warrant the cost involved to build that functionality into the Wii U console because of the patents related to those technologies.

While he’s quite right that most people already have machines to play DVDs, a lot of households don’t have machines capable of Blu-ray playback. We already knew that games will be stored on Nintendo’s own unique media discs, but having no support for DVD or Blu-ray movies could hinder the Wii U’s sale potential amongst some consumers.

So what do you think? Do the benefits of reduced costs outweigh those of supporting some of the latest technologies? The comments section below is waiting for your opinion.

Source: CVG


  1. Well it isn’t a huge loss to me, never bothered with movies

    • I think it is a big loss. My only DVD players are my PS2 and PS3. Also if you look at the price of a cheap DVD player or BLu-ray player; realisitically how expensive can those patents be?

  2. this is a real cheap move imo.

    • The cost of adding DVD playback would be pence not pounds (guess) as internal drives for PCs are only a few quid.

      • Multiply it up by the bajillions of consoles I’m sure Ninty are hoping to sell, and those pence soon rack up.

      • So will lost sales due to no movie playback.

      • don’t forget you have to pay to use the DVD/BluRay technology, looking at millions of pounds there.

  3. Also, the Wii spun discs the opposite way. They have backwards compatibility so Wii U discs will also spin backwards. The only way they can do this is to develop a reader that can detect the difference between a DVD and Game. I think that might be a bit hard.

    • On the plus side, you probably can’t pirate their games on a DVD-R.

      • No, but if it’s anything like the Wii pirates will still find a way through the removable storage options.

      • they made it so you could either play normal games or only pirate games by modding the disk drive. could never do both though.

    • surely if the disc can be spun anti-clockwise it would be simple enough to have it spin clockwise aswell, no?

      i dont see spinning direction being too much of a blockade for them to break through.

      • hav to program the read head to act differently too – I imagine. Don’t quote me on it though.

    • Modded Wii’s (even those with just software hacks) can play original’s /and/ DVD-R burns, so if a similar software mod is developed for the Wii U, the direction the disc spins seems to be irrelevant?

    • All DVD drives spin the same way, actually.

      • But isn’t the point that it isn’t a DVD drive?

      • Pretty sure to have codec, format, DVD & Blu-ray compatibility you would have licence the tech & pay royalties to the IP holders, Nintendo’s optical disc formats (past & this new one) get around that.

  4. For us (people who read about texh-stuff every day) it’s a valid reason to be “concerned” but I think for the general population, they won’t notice. Sure, when Sony says “We can play Blu-rays” that’s awesome for everyone, but people won’t notice if it’s not there…

  5. “Nintendo’s own unique media discs”… unique media discs… The whole fact that it shortens itself to UMD is rather frightening, no? :)

    • Oh god. That is quite frightening actually, maybe we’ll have to play with headphones in to block out the sounds of badly damaged discs scratching about in your hands.

  6. Surely it would have been more cost effective in the long run to go with existing tech rather than investing in a propriatory format??

    • True, but there are piracy issues.

      • I might be way off the mark here, but I’m of the opinion that the Wii is mostly aimed at families and not hardcore gamers. I can’t imagine many families like that are interested in piracy. Or maybe my mind has been twisted by all the Nintendo ads on tv…

      • Then they should remove media card slot and USB ports too, cause these are even more dangerous piracy-enablers ;)

      • a lot of people I know that has a Wii and uses it alot has it chipped, or whatever you want to call it. Piracy will happen with or without the use of DVD or UMD for the games

  7. Well the Wii itself has always been capable of playing DVD’s so it’s not the cost of the parts but rather the additional cost that Nintendo would have to pay to acquire the rights to play films on their console.

  8. Many people want just one device under their tv that will do everything so i think this is a mistake on Nintendo’s part.

    • Yeah, look how not being able to play DVDs stopped the Wii from outselling the PS3 and 360. Oh wait… :-)

      The Wii’s proved people aren’t bothered about playing movies on their Nintendos. By releasing the consoles so far behind the début of the media Nintendo almost guarantees that people will be able to play the discs already of they want to.

      The cost issue Iwata refers to is likely that of Blu-ray licensing, not DVD. Last time I checked (sometime last year) the cost of the Blu-ray patents for a playback device was $4.50.

      Nintendo want the Wii U to be relatively low-priced like the Wii was and they want to be profitable on the hardware from day one (unlike Sony and Microsoft) so keeping all unnecessary costs out of the manufacturing cost is essential to them.

      • Yeah, look how not being able to play DVDs stopped the Wii from outselling the PS3 and 360. Oh wait…

        yeah…but you get what you pay for…how many Wii’s are there gathering dust, while PS3 and 360 users are constantly using their machines not just for games but for watching films, TV, recording TV while they play games (Play TV on PS3) web browsing and other media streaming stuff. I know that for the majority of people (the masses) an all in one box doesn’t really appeal to them, as the cost often looks frightening, but, when you start to compare what you are actually paying for, you start to see that it’s actually a damn good deal…

        plus anyone who is thinking of buying a blu ray player, don’t…instead buy a PS3, as it will always be updated, unlike most of the early blu ray players that will need to be changed if you want 3D in the near future.

      • Good point Greg but Nintendo aren’t just going after the casual market this time. Anyone contemplating buying a HD console for core gaming might be swayed by the dvd/blu ray in 360/PS3…. well, those who are capable of getting past the in-store merchandising and choose for themselves ;)

      • @MaD dOc “how many Wii’s are there gathering dust”

        Probably not as many as you think. I know of plenty that aren’t and I know families where the PS3 is rarely used for gaming because they prefer the multiplayer experience on their Wii.

        The fact that the PS3 was a frequently updated Blu-ray player was important before the Blu-ray spec stabilised. (Profile 1.0 was rushed to market so that HD-DVD didn’t build an unassailable lead, that’s why we needed 1.1 & 2.0.) If you buy a 3D-capable Blu-ray player now it will be fine and play any Blu-ray film for the foreseeable future.

        @TSBonyman The first market Nintendo go after with the Wii U will be existing Wii owners. They don’t care whether they can play movie disks on the Wii U or not, they’re already playing them on something else.

        It’s been a long time since consoles were the best devices to play your movies on, that’s a very minor bullet point for consumers now.

      • I no loads of people with wiis who call them dust collectors.

      • your missing the point so when the wiiu launches why would I want one when I can get a lot more for my money cheaper.

      • So even though we don’t yet know exactly how capable the Wii U will be, the kind of experience it will provide or how much it will cost, you’re already predicting it won’t be good value?

      • Sure their first target is existing Wii owners but i was referring to the (secondary for them perhaps) core market. I’m not saying for a moment that PS3 or 360 are the best movie players on the market, just that they provide an extra dimension to peoples home entertainment which the Wii U will lack. I’m also not saying that everyone will be concerned about whether or not Wii U plays movies, but for some it might make the difference.

    • In reality, this rarely works, though. Want to play Halo and watch Blu Rays? Already requires two devices. To be honest, most people already have at least one device at home that plays DVDs and does other things, too so buying a Wii U would not replace said device. Also, people with DVD players with built in recorders are not likely to give up the additional functionality to ditch one boy under their TV.
      I don’t think the lack of DVD playability is an issue for the majority in this case.

  9. Blu-ray movies I can understand; but not even DVD?

  10. I can understand it in a way, but being able to play DVD’s is a massive advantage.

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