Nintendo TVii: The Next Big Thing Isn’t Here Yet

The Wii U's ambitious TV service won't show up when the console hits stores this weekend.

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For this week’s dead-tree TIME issue, I had fun writing about Nintendo’s new Wii U game console, which hits stores on Sunday. (Subscribers can read the story here.)

As the piece discusses, one of several notable things about the Wii U is that it’s Nintendo’s first stab at creating a console for the modern era of gaming and entertainment — the one in which people play games on plenty of devices which aren’t consoles, and use consoles for plenty of things which aren’t gaming. The big new non-gaming feature is called Nintendo TVii, and it’s wildly ambitious: it melds live TV, TiVo recording and streaming video from Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, and lets you search and browse everything from the GamePad touchscreen controller.

Basically, it reminds me of what Google TV tried to do. Except Google TV has failed to do it very well. With TVii, the concept gets another chance at success.

It turns out, though, that the company needs a little more time. Two days before the Wii U’s debut, Nintendo has announced that the console’s streaming-video apps will arrive in the “coming weeks,” and that TVii will show up in December as a downloadable update.

This isn’t a completely stunning development. My colleague Matt Peckham has a Wii U review unit, and it doesn’t have TVii, so we already knew that Nintendo was running into potential deadline danger.

I remain hopeful that Nintendo TVii will live up to its potential: like Slate’s Chris Baker, I think it could be a big deal. (Here’s an opposing view from Fast Company’s Mark Wilson, who’s concerned about the feature’s button-laden design.) But right now, it’s not a reason to wrangle yourself one of the first Wii U units — which might be awfully tough in any event. Let’s wait and see how it looks when it shows up.