Rumor: Wii 2 with HD and Blu-ray launching in 2011?

There is a new wave of rumors discussing the possible release of a Nintendo Wii 2 game console that will include high-definition content and Blu-ray Disc support.

Similar to the Sony PlayStation 3, the new Wii 2 is rumored to have an HD output and built-in Blu-ray drive, but it’s unknown when Nintendo will announce the mystical console, or if it’s even real.

Rumor: Wii 2 with HD and Blu-ray launching in 2011?

The addition of streaming content and more interactive services offered through the Xbox 360 and PS3 has forced Nintendo to shake things up.  The PS3 ships with a built-in Blu-ray player, while Microsoft relies on Xbox Live to support Netflix and other streaming content — Nintendo has added Netflix and other basic streaming services, but the lack of Blu-ray or HD are seen as major disadvantages for their console.

I’m not fully convinced Nintendo would try to integrate Blu-ray into the Wii 2, because it’d be cheaper to start with HD support only.  In addition, Microsoft has had great success with its paid Xbox Live service that doesn’t include Blu-ray, while Sony has Blu-ray and the free PlayStation Network for PS3 gamers.

The Wii held a significant lead over the Xbox 360 and PS3 since its launch, as gamers were instantly drawn to the Wiimote, the Nintendo party games and its lower price tag.  Since then, the lead has shrunk while Microsoft and Sony offer new streaming features, HD content, downloads, and other features that the Wii still lacks.

Another common complaint is that the Wii game catalog isn’t as appealing as the Xbox 360 or PS3 — though Nintendo is working to fix this issue. Sony and Microsoft recently cut pricing on their consoles. Nintendo had a $50 price cut last September, which brought the price of the Wii down to $199.  I think it’s unlikely the Wii will receive another price cut, even with the addition of a new HD model launch.