The Wii U Won’t be ‘Hardcore’

The Wii craze was a fluke, unlikely to repeat, so Nintendo is (again) courting “hardcore” gamers with its upcoming Wii U. The Wii U, like its predecessor, has a useless gimmick controller and shitty specs. It won’t have meaningful third-party support. It’s a console no hardcore gamer wants, and Nintendo knows it.

(A simple truism game journos never mention: the unending format war is the worst thing possible for gaming. Forcing people to buy three $300 consoles or miss out on titles they want is a major impediment to the medium’s growth, a much more important issue than, say, the rantings of some half-dead semi-retired movie critic, yet it’s barely discussed on mainstream sites.)

By “hardcore” Nintendo means gamers who buy lots of new-release games. So hardcore Wii U better have lots of good games! Here’s Nintendo of America president Reggie “My Body Is Ready” Fils-Aime, madly dissembling:

“What I’ll tell you is that with the Wii we did not have the benefit of multiplatform games from key publishers. I didn’t have The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I didn’t have the best of the Call of Duty games. That’s what I missed.

With the Wii U’s graphics capability, processing power, and HD-output, we’ll get those games. That’s a huge competitive advantage versus where we were with the Wii.”

The Wii U sure will have huge advantages over the Wii (HD-output!) but not over its actual next-gen competition. Nintendo’s withholding CPU and GPU info out of shame, but here’s how we know they’re underpowered:

  1. Shigeru Miyomoto told GameSpot the Wii U wouldn’t “necessarily dramatically outperform the systems that are out now.”
  2. The Wii U launch price ($299) is too low for cutting-edge specs. Nintendo doesn’t sell consoles at a loss (the 3DS price-cut was a traumatic exception).
  3. The rumored leaked specs suck.
  4. The launch titles all look like PS3 games.

So Reggie’s bullshitting us. In a year the Wii U will be as antiquated as the Wii is now.

The Big N hasn’t had “the benefit of multi-platform games” for three generations. There are millions of high schoolers who have lived their entire lives never knowing a Nintendo home console with more than five playable games. Nintendo always promises third-party developer support. It never materializes. You can’t pin all this on 480p.

The Wii U’s not getting Grand Theft Auto VI or the best Call of Dutys. It will, however, have like a new Star Fox or something. Nintendo should probably just go third-party themselves, like every hardcore gamer in the entire universe wants them to.