Last Thursday, Nintendo announced the release date and pricing for its new console, and as curious as I was last year right before E3 when the details were released for what was being dubbed as “Nintendo HD” and officially announced as the Wii U during Nintendo’s “teaser” presentation during their press conference, after the event, I must say that I was honestly left non-plussed to say the least.
Below is what Reggie Fils-Aime, COO of Nintendo U.S.A., told us last year in the Game Trailers E3 interview, but just remember to filter out all of the crap in your brain that he’s trying to feed you. The Wii U will support HDMI HD games and video. The Wii U will have support for proprietary Nintendo discs, only, i.e., it will not have Blu-ray or even DVD support, and it certainly won’t support 3D. The Wii U will provide comparable Internet-based experiences such as video services and gaming networks currently offered on the Playstation 3 and the XBOX 360.
In order to understand the absolute arrogance of Nintendo, you must watch all 19 minutes-plus of the obnoxiousness that flows like projectile vomit out of Reggie’s open maw. Watch him squirm in this video when pressed for specifics and furthermore pressed for information on how this is going to be better than what the competition is currently offering.
“…And again, what I want to focus on is, “is it going to offer the consumer a competitive value when it comes out?” And the answer is, “Absolutely.””
How can you tell when Reggie is being disingenuous? He says “Look…” or “absolutely.” Honest to God, you can make a drinking game based exclusively on “Look…” and “absolutely” in this interview. That, and you know it’s a bad sign when he keeps using the word, “competitive” but not to fear, as its competitive value will be long gone when Sony and Microsoft actually launch the only true next generation consoles.
I own all three current systems on the market, the Wii and the current generation systems, the Playstation 3 and the XBOX 360 (w/Kinect). I make the distinction because the Wii is not a current gen system, regardless of the fact that it was launched at the same time as the PS3 and the 360 (well, actually the 360 was launched a year before, but I digress). That being said, the Wii U is a current gen system and unfortunately it’s six years too late to the big dance. I’m not a Nintendo hater by any stretch of the imagination. I’m an original NES, SNES, Gamecube and Wii owner. I love the Nintendo properties and I’ve always appreciated their innovation in the industry. I would even go so far as to consider myself a Nintendo fanboy. Honestly, with my kids, Nintendo characters are as much of a staple to them as Disney characters. I’m making a point to explain my history with the brand because when the discussion of video game consoles rears its ugly head it’s usually done with a biased perspective from consumers who one day, for whatever reason (price, brand loyalty, features, etc.) decided to choose one system over another and because of that decision have determined that their system is the best and everything else is awful. These discussions are usually driven by 14 year-old boys… and men in their 30’s and 40’s who regress to adolescence any time the subject is discussed.
But, before any discussion of the Wii U can begin, you have to discuss its predecessor, the Wii, its history, development and evolution. Although I appreciate the novel concept of the Wii and what Nintendo was trying to do with it, it stands as a testament of failure of innovation and foresight as far as I’m concerned by Nintendo and I’m not the only one who thinks this.
From The Globe and Mail on Nintendo’s record losses in 2011:
“Meanwhile, the short-sighted Wii, though seductively cheap and in possession of a couple of compelling casual gaming gimmicks, proved unable cope as both user desires and surrounding technologies evolved. Its more robust competitors, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3, got off to a slower start, but have thrived in the long term, and will likely continue to prosper for at least a few more years.”
There is no question that the Wii has made a lot of money and it is certainly a fact that it has sold about 50% more units than the PS3 and the 360, but I firmly believe that when the Wii U fails, history will look at Nintendo’s short-sightedness regarding the Wii as the ultimate reason why this failure occurred, and unless consumers are completely ignorant of the specifications of the Wii U, this would seem to be inevitable. And let’s be clear, when I discuss specifications, what I really mean is capabilities, because most consumers wouldn’t know what the significance of CPU and GPU numbers were if they took a course on them. So when discussing system capabilities, the Wii U is set to disappoint like no system ever has.
The truth is that while the Wii was in development during the early 2000’s, Nintendo was aware that they could not compete with the hardware capabilities of the PS3 or the 360 while developing their seventh generation console and be at a pricepoint they wanted to be at and worse, they couldn’t foresee the demand for HD gaming, network gaming or the concept of a video game console being a network connected home entertainment hub the way that both Sony and Microsoft envisioned them, despite losing money initially. Nintendo thought HD TV was a fad.
So what did Nintendo do? They punted. They went in a completely different direction with their console because they knew they didn’t have the chops to compete at the same level tech or capability-wise and they developed a system that was hardly more than supercharged Gamecube with a unique controller system. Instead of targeting the same market that console manufacturers have been traditionally targeting for the last two decades – y’know, actual gamers – they decided to target just about every one else they hadn’t in the past, and of course, their own loyal base. Nintendo never saw itself as in competition with the current gen consoles from day one with the Wii, not because they weren’t, but because they decided to pretend that they were above all of that just as they’re doing with the Wii U (straight from the mouth of Fils-Aime at E3 2011 in that interview above) and while, from a standpoint of expanding your market, I commend Nintendo for targeting casual gamers, retirees and consumers that would not normally consider themselves gamers, I’m not so naive as to think that this was some genius stroke of marketing innovation and foresight. No, this was a defensive measure entirely in order to be able to survive because they weren’t ready to play with the big boys and no one was as surprised as they were at the Wii’s success.
I hate to be the one to break this to everyone, but the Wii’s success was based on the novelty of its controller system, its safe and easily accessible titles and most importantly, the fact that it was and continues to be the cheapest of all seventh gen systems and it gained its prominence during a period of worldwide recession. High sales numbers for a cheap product does not mean that the product is an outstanding product. You truly get what you pay for. The Wii is hardly any different now than it was when it was first launched and that’s because its hardware is so incredibly out-of-date, using virtually the same technology as a Gamecube (as confirmed by Miyamoto, himself), albeit faster and more efficient. One of the biggest jokes of all is the fact that the Wii cannot even support digital audio-out (and I’m not even talking about the horrific 480 resolution) and the best you can hope for is a Dolby Pro-Logic II audio track. Are you flipping kidding me? I had a DVD player from 1997 that supported digital audio out. Is it any wonder that the Wii hasn’t had a system update in nearly two years while the 360 and PS3 continue to receive regular updates? Is it also any wonder that that the Wii’s sales have plummeted since 2008 while the PS3’s and 360’s (especially the 360’s) have done nothing but increase?
The truth is that the Wii as a console was and is an insult not just to the true gamer (who was alienated by it and rejected it) but to anyone who expected that the system they spent $250 or $200 on would have any kind of extended technological life-cycle. Nintendo lied to their fanbase (who wanted to believe the lie) and they lied to the ignorant consumer (their new market of casual gamers, preteen girls and the elderly) who didn’t care or know any better, selling them a technologically archaic unit that was out-of-date on launch date. The only reason they got away with it is because their biggest market didn’t know any better and their fanbase was so enamored by the Wii-mote (just as they are about the new Wii U GamePad) that they chose to ignore the realities of the Wii technological deficiencies.
And all of this is what has led us to Nintendo’s new big lie, the Wii U which should really be called the Wii-on-U because that’s exactly what they are doing… pissing on their customers, new and old. They are playing the “pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain” game by introducing a current gen console and trying to pitch it as a next gen console – once again – because of its gimmicky new controller that no one cares about. This is a turd… a big cigar-shaped stinking turd floating in the toilet of failure and the pricepoint is ridiculous.
So what exactly is the Wii U offering and how much is it? Well it has the capability to do everything that a PS3 can do (minus the Blu-ray ability and 3D ability) and a 360 can do (minus the controller-free ability) and a bunch of stupid crap that no one cares about. It comes with a controller (the GamePad) that costs $170 to replace if broken or if, y’know, you just want a second one, and then you have the privilege of getting a console with 8 GB of storage for $299.99 ($50 more than the PS3 with no Blu-ray player and 112 GB less storage) or a “Deluxe” version with 32 GB of storage ($100 more than a 250 GB XBOX 360 or the same price including Kinect).
TVii-U… seriously? I’m supposed to be impressed with the ability to watch Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime which I’ve doing for years with PS3 and 360? I’m supposed to be impressed that it’s compatible with TiVo which has a grand total of 2.3 million subscribers? Well, I guess, I’ll just go out and spend another $300 on a TiVo so I can take advantage of TVii-U. Do I really need another universal remote with a guide in it when I get a guide through an OSD already and have been for nearly two decades? Am I really supposed to be impressed with its capability to “stream live TV similar to a set top box,” considering that like 91% of the U.S., I already have a GD settop box and a cable signal or satellite signal won’t be compatible with the Wii-U because they don’t have any license agreements with the providers? Can I possibly be the only one who sees TVii-U as being as big of a failure as the Logitech Revue was… for the exact same reasons?
So, basically what you have here is a whole lot of nothing because that’s what Nintendo has been excelling at over the last decade: bringing a whole lot of nothing new to the table. The Wii-U is even more of an insult to the “core gamer” this time around that they lost with the Wii because its sole reason for existence is to woo them back by saying, “We know this is what you’ve been complaining about for the last six years so we’ll finally give it to you except for the fact that once again, you can only use our proprietary discs in it and the hardware we’ll be at the end of its lifecycle in two years… but hey, you can hook it up to the TiVo that you most likely don’t own, so STFU! You’ll take what we so graciously give you and like it.”
Oh, and one more thing for the gushers who will hail Nintendo’s brilliant new console because of Nintendo’s new found dedication to third-party developers, every single piece of footage shown by Nintendo at E3 2011 from third-party developers to showcase Wii U was either footage from a PS3 demo or an XBOX 360 or from a PC Demo because Nintendo thinks you’re that stupid.
From our favorite propagandist Reggie Fils-Aime,
“We’re talking a year away from when the system’s going to launch. The system’s going to be 1080p. You’re going to see games that take full advantage of a system that has the latest technology and can push out some incredible graphics.”
And the problem with this entire endeavor can be summed up in that quote. First, excusing the lifting of footage from other consoles and pretending it’s yours by saying that the graphics are going to be 1080p suggests that resolution is the only thing that matters with gameplay and that’s all critics have complained about so what’s wrong with using the competition’s footage because it will all be the same anyway, right? Second, no dummy, it cannot push out incredible graphics, it can push out 1080p graphics, i.e., the contemporary standard in the only types of displays that are available on the market… 1080p displays. Third, and the most important, Reggie do you really want to run with this notion that your brand new, state-of-the-art, next generation console, the Wii U will be just as good as the competition’s current consoles (hence why you used their footage) when those systems and that technology is six and seven years old, respectively? Is that where you really want to go? What next… the Nintendo cell phone with the novel idea of the built-in camera?
Here’s the reality of what you can really hope to expect from Nintendo’s Wii U, which would be fine if they weren’t trying to sell it as something it wasn’t. Also, notice that this, and every other trailer that Nintendo has put out is only in 720p.
A Note to Nintendo: Assuming that core gamers and even the average contemporary home electronics consumers are as ignorant and un-tech savvy as who your target market of little girls and the elderly has been is the stupidest mistake you have ever made in the history of your company… even stupider than the PowerGlove.
Although I never speculate about game consoles, the Wii-U deserves to be an absolute disaster and no amount of limiting retailers’ initial inventories to artificially drive up demand will change that.
But wait… hold up! They’re throwing in a $3 HDMI cable. Well, that changes everything. Forget what I said and sign me the f*ck up.