Being in development since 2008, Nintendo has been working furiously on the Wii’s successor, the Wii U. Apart from the naming of the device, which is a concern, but not one covered in depth here, there are significant concerns about the device, hopefully these will be rectified by further preview trailers, or at another conference down the road.
- The Controller
Without a doubt, many an E3 attendee was smitten by the design of the Wii U’s controller. It features an accelerometer, gyroscope, front facing camera, and get this; a 6.2 inch resistive touch screen. On top of this, it features normal controls, likened by some to a GameCube controller, with triggers and a Directional pad, and did I mention that its wireless? Now, you must be thinking, what my concern is here. The most obvious one to start with, is the cost of one of these controllers. A Playstation 3 SixAxis controller already costs around $70 dollars, for a wireless gamepad, that has a degree of motion control in it, and a touch of vibration. When compared to a controller that 01net likens to an iPad with buttons, you can start to get a feel of the costs involved. Apple’s iPad 2 costs approximately around $579 for the base model. Somehow, I think family units will be… slightly disrupted, when your brother/sister/kids fight over who gets a turn on the console.
But that’s not the issue here. The controller already seems quite large in the display video. If we can all remember the original Frankenstein of a controller the original Xbox had, it is difficult to imagine that, despite its slimness, the Wii U’s controller will be a joy to hold. The touch screen and the controller itself also provide controls to games… Three axes of control sound slightly daunting, even the iPad only has a touch screen and accelerometer.
And of course, my major concern with the controller itself, the battery life. Supposedly, the controller is powerful enough to stream classic games from the console, so that you can enjoy the odd spot of Metroid , or a Link to the Past while doing something crazy, like moving away from your television. Something tells me, that the battery life for this controller is going to be, pretty short, forcing you to shackle your wireless controller back to the console anyway.
- Raw Cost
When the Playstation 3 was released, it cost approximately $820 for the base model. Mind you, this was in 2006, quite a while back. It featured a Blu-Ray drive, relatively powerful CPU, and of course, a GPU that was equivalent or better to an nVidia 7800, and of course, it featured the new HDMI output. The Wii U features a multi-core processor being developed by Intel, as well as a GPU that is rumoured to be as powerful as an ATI 4890. It can run the original, unwatered down Crysis, as well as featuring a sensor bar, and an onboard wireless suite to interact with the console’s controller. Oh yes, and the controller’s cost itself… It seems as if the Wii U will be more expensive, if not more than the PS3 at launch. Considering the 6 year old PS3 still sells at around $400-500, this could be saying something… something like extending another line of credit to purchase this console.
Even now, developers such as Square-Enix (the makers of Final Fantasy) comment that the PS3 hasn’t reached its full potential yet, while other developers comment the difficulty in coding for the PS3. This is interesting, considering the PS3 is using hardware which is almost six years old now, horrifically outdated by modern technology at this point. And yet, it still looks amazing, with games such as Metal Gear Solid 4, and the announced Final Fantasy Versus 13 showing off the awe-inspiring power of the console.
Perhaps this is just a minor concern, but might the Wii U never reach its full potential, before its successor is released? Already, the PS4 was announced to be in development, with Sony’s PS Vita rumoured to be as powerful as the PS3, but housed within a handheld console. Hopefully this is allayed… The Wii U certainly has a huge amount of potential to it.
- Console Exclusivity- A tale of Intellectual Property
Back in the old days of the Xbox, Playstation 2, and the new kid on the block, the Wii, there was the classic battle of the Master Chief, Mario, and Solid Snake. Sure, console developers still make games for their own consoles, despite that, two out of the three characters above, which are the figurehead of these consoles are made by third party developers, namely Kojima Productions, and Bungie Studios.
And the Third Party Studios have become bigger and bigger, before being bought up by some even larger development companies, namely EA, Ubisoft, and Activision. Console games are becoming less and less exclusive, for example, Tekken 6, a game many a fan thought would permanently stay on Sony consoles moved to the Xbox 360 recently. Metal Gear Solid games are being announced for the Nintendo 3DS. Crysis 2 is multiplatform, as was its slightly younger cousin, Far Cry 2.
Why is this a problem? Even today, games that are released across multiple platforms seem to do better than on some, then others. Last year, Assassins Creed: Brotherhood was released on the 360, and the PS3. Most commented that the PS3 version was buggier, and had worse frame rates. Because of the ‘one size fits all’ approach that games are seemingly taking these days, the Wii U’s power might never be truly exploited by development companies. Why spend effort on a game that can only be played by one console in its generation after all?
In conclusion, the Wii U looks set to be an early challenger to the 8th Generation of Consoles. Already, the console looks amazing, with its ability to handle the Crytek engine something to marvel at. Perhaps the fears of the short lived battery, and the possible enormous cost will be allayed by the next presentation, but the lingering doubt if the Wii U will be used to its full potential, like the almost forgotten PS3 remains a question.