EA is always ready to pick a fight with Nintendo after the company opted to use its own online service, rather than Origin, and has finally had the nerve to say that the Wii U is not a next-generation console. CEO John Riccitiello claims that the next generation hasn’t started yet, even though the Wii U has been released. While I will give him this—that the Wii U barely performs on par with the current generation XBOX 360 and PS3—it still seems incredibly silly to argue that the Wii U is not a next-generation machine. And here’s why.
To start with, it’s on par with current-generation consoles and has something that neither of them offer—a touch screen. In a digital landscape that is becoming increasingly touch-oriented, as opposed to button-oriented, this gives them the upper hand against current-generation machines. In other words, it’s a step up, and signals the start of a new generation of gaming. Neither the PS3 or XBOX 360 have touch capabilities, and the closest Sony gets to it is its dual touch screen support for the PS Vita…a handheld. Compared to current-generation consoles, the Wii U is in its own class (even if that class barely outclasses them).
It’s true that the power of the Wii U is limited, but it will still have the killer games and amazing playability for those games. This means that its fanbase will inevitably follow it as soon as their favorite games are published for the system. Just put a Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon title on there, and suddenly you have a successful console. While Sony and Microsoft can pride themselves on new IP, Nintendo sells its consoles by sticking to its guns. Neither of the other consoles have a game that can be considered a ‘killer app’ on the level of Nintendo games.
However, those are mainly reasons that Nintendo’s Wii U will be successful. How on earth does this low-quality machine compete with future consoles? The answer is quite simple: because Nintendo is counting on it to. They’ve chosen the Wii U as their contender for the next generation, and whether it’s an amazing machine or not, it’s still what will compete against the PS4 and XBOX 720. It has plenty of features that the other next-generation consoles are certain not to have. Because of this, the Wii U is sure to have its own niche in the next generation.
This isn’t the first time that Nintendo has released a console to compete with more than one generation. The Wii barely ran on par with the PS2, and yet, it ended up leading at the start of this generation. The Gamecube was slightly better than the PS1. And so on. Nintendo has always been more of an innovator than a company concerned with cutting-edge technology—they will add new gimmicks, sure, but they have to be affordable, tried, and true. The Wii U is Nintendo’s next big bet, and only time will tell if their console will be able to hold its own against what will inevitably be a set of superior machines.