Iwata Expects Wii U to Last a Generation
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Microsoft doesn't seem to agree
An obsession that has plagued video gaming since its earliest days is power, whether it was the 'BIT' wars of the 1990s or the current-day complexities of graphics processors. Wii has been a staggering success that has faded away in its twilight years, arguably because its lack of power has deprived it of many big multi-platform titles; a fate Nintendo's keen to avoid with Wii U.
When addressing concerns from Nintendo shareholders, Iwata stated that the additional capabilities of Wii U and the smaller visual differences in HD visuals meant that Wii U wouldn't be overwhelmed by more powerful machines.
We cannot promise that the Wii U will never be excluded from multiplatform software for eternity, but we can at least assure you that the Wii U will not have such a big difference as the Wii had in comparison to how, on other platforms, developers could expect very different graphic capabilities of generating HD-applicable high-resolution graphics. Other companies might launch a next-generation console with more power, but we don’t necessarily think that the difference between the Wii U and such console will be as drastic as what you felt it was between the Wii and the other consoles because there will be fewer and fewer differentiators in graphics. Naturally some consumers are very sensitive about such a small difference in graphics so that we will make efforts to make the most of the performance of the Wii U to keep up with technological innovations and not to make the system out-of-date soon. However, as the structure of the product called the Wii U is as if we are including both a video game console and a handheld device, if we were not careful about how luxurious both of them were, we could end up having to offer the price of the two hardware systems combined, which would not be an acceptable price for the consumers. We had to design it by balancing the performance and the costs.
I am not sure this is an appropriate expression, but video game consoles have long been “parasites” of TV sets at home. In other words, game consoles have used TV sets in a family instead of being equipped with their own screen. However, the Wii U will be the first console free from TV sets, in which you can play the Wii U while someone else is watching TV or you yourself can watch TV while using the Wii U. As you can experience deeper entertainment with both the Wii U GamePad and the TV screen, we would like to enrich it but, at the same time, we hope to furnish it with games you can enjoy only with the Wii U GamePad. In addition, games on two screens are not just the same with what we did for the Nintendo DS. As the TV screen can be distant from the Wii U GamePad, not like the Nintendo 3DS, we can offer different options for use. Also, in multiplayer games, a player with the Wii U GamePad will play a different role from those with Wii Remote controllers. We are thinking of what we call “asymmetric game play,” in which players have different roles in one game, like in Tag. The player with the Wii U GamePad will be able to know what other players are doing when they are playing on the TV screen. The Wii U GamePad will work as a window where you can communicate with other players in their living rooms. We say that the Wii U GamePad could be a “Social Window,” or a window to link your living rooms to others’.
Not to be outdone in this "my processor's faster than your processor" debate, Microsoft's Phil Spencer suggested to gamesindustry.biz that Wii U, graphically, was simply catching up to Xbox 360.
I think their Pro Controller makes a lot of sense with the platform they've built. They are building a platform that is effectively a 360 when you think of graphical capability. Now they are really making an on-ramp for the back catalog of games that are on 360. It is easy for those games to move over the Wii U. They've moved the buttons around, and they've made a controller that feels familiar for 360 gamers, so I get why they are putting those pieces together. I would have loved to see Zelda or Metroid or some of my favorite Nintendo franchises, which I didn't see.
It's an argument that Nintendo has faced since unveiling the SD Wii to the world, and we don't expect it to finish any time soon.