Nintendo has spooned out a helping of its classic canned response, dismissing rumor that an external hard drive for Wii is in the works. GameIndustry.biz was force-fed a mouthful of "pure rumour and speculation" when seeking clarification about the would-be peripheral.
Originating from Japanese mag Gamelabo, the rumor claimed to cite undisclosed sources within Nintendo who allegedly revealed that an external hard drive for Wii is being readied. Regardless of the validity of this particular rumor or its source, the Wii hard drive question seems to be more an issue of when than if. Back when we still called the thing a "Revolution," Iwata openly confirmed, "practically any storage method can be used [with the console]." External USB hard drives have to be included in that sentiment, no?
As Wii users begin to fill the 512 MB of internal flash memory -- just imagine the burden of Saturn games and downloadable demos -- everyone's got an eye toward memory expansion. A pile of SD cards is one option; a hard drive is a better one. Here's the dilemma: if Nintendo releases a first-party drive, say for $100, then there's a risk of Wii being perceived as a $350 console. Whether or not Nintendo opts for dual SKUs, retailers would certainly bundle the "base" console and an external Nintendo hard drive together; in effect, damaging Wii's price advantage. Nintendo is likely looking at a hard drive solution, but don't expect the company to give up its R&S response until it's clear that a proprietary drive would be profitable. Our guess: expect third-party offerings later this year.