Looking back over your comments on my rather schizophrenic Wii U appraisal yesterday, it seems that one of your biggest concerns with Nintendo's next console is the price of its controllers. But it turns out that may not need be a concern at all. Why? Because extra controllers might not go on sale at all. Yep, the one you get with the console could well be it, if recent Nintendo statements from the E3 show floor are accurate.
Disaster? No, actually. In fact it's probably a very good thing, happening for a good reasons.
The first of those reasons, as you so rightly pointed out, is cost. The Wii U controller does not do any game processing itself, and doesn't contain half the hardware a tablet computer does. All of the processing goes on in the console, and the results are streamed to the handheld screen wirelessly, That said, it has still got a lot going on, with a touchscreen, microphone, speaker and gryos under the bonnet, so would likely be priced way out of the controller bracket if it was released standalone. And current controllers are outrageously overpriced already.
The second reason is a technical one. Certain functions of the Wii U's controller will likely be a little tricky to pull off if four players are trying to partake in them simultaneously. Streaming a video feed from the console to the pad is one thing, but if multiple players need multiple different perspectives to be constructed and rendered simultaneously? You could start seeing some processor strain begin to kick in. Yeah, consoles can manage split screen, but devs seem increasingly reluctant to bother coding it these days, and with a 1080P TV screen to render on top of four handheld displays, it could well end up seeming more trouble than it's worth.
And besides, it's unlikely that multiple Wii U controllers would ever be advantageous. Core games just need analogues, d-pad and buttons. If you want same-room multiplayer, Nintendo's Classic Controller (or whatever new iteration of the CC inevitably turns up alongside the Wii U) can make up the numbers in that respect. The more casual and experimental stuff will probably use a take-it-in-turns approach, or use the Wii U controller as some kind of shared facility. Various multiplayer models for the Wii U are already demoing a really cool asymmetrical design, with the majority of players using CCs vs. one 'Game Master' player manipulating things from a different perspecive using the Wii U controller's screen. Which frankly sounds brilliant.
And fear not, clumsies. We assume you'll probably be able to get a spare controller direct from NIntendo if you smash yours up or something.
Has this revelation made you feel easier about picking up a Wii U next year, or has it put you off? Personally I reckon anything that promotes the use of the Classic Controller as standard and limits the use of gimmickry has to be a good thing. Seems Nintendo might well genuinely have the focus right for this machine.
June 09, 2011