Nintendo quietly announced the Wii Mini — a pared down version of the original Wii that lacks any online features and will launch in Canada — late last week, but didn't really explain the reasoning behind the product. The Wii Mini struck us as a bit odd when it was initially announced — it's missing features that are pretty much table stakes for any gaming system at this point and its availability is only planned for Canada at this point. Polygon recently spoke to Nintendo of Canada communications manager Matt Ryan, who explained that Nintendo removed features like online functionality, an SD card slot, and backwards compatibility with old GameCube games in order to keep the Wii Mini at its low $99.99 price point.
"A lot of the Wii experiences... don't require online functionality for you to have fun."
"We want the system to be as affordable as possible to everybody, and the widest audience possible," said Ryan. "By taking out functionality, that allows us to keep the cost down." He also pointed out that "a lot of the Wii experiences... don't require online functionality for you to have fun."
Concerning the Wii Mini's exclusivity to the Great White North, Ryan said that despite what some might guess, it's not because the console features a red exterior. Canada appears to be the test market for the Wii Mini, and it could determine if other parts of the world are blessed with the low-cost console, depending on how well it sells in Canada, of course. Ryan also said that the Wii Mini and Wii U are "fundamentally very, very different products," and he isn't concerned that Nintendo is launching both of them at the same time in Canada. The low price point of the Wii Mini is designed to attract those buyers that may not be interested in spending upwards of $300 on the Wii U, but also still haven't bothered to buy an original Wii. Hopefully, they won't be wanting to use any online services if they do decide to pick up the red and black Wii Mini when it hits shelves this Friday.