As true and exciting as it may well be, this report of the Wii U's supposed monster horsepower is like a perfect storm of all the elements that make a rubbish video game new story. Analysts. Un-named sources. Vague, fanboy-baiting tidbits. It has it all. If ever there was a story to parody crap internet news reporting, this is it. But still, it's potentially awesome news if true, so I'm going to report it anyway. On the internet. But I've acknowledged all of the above up-front, so I'm not doing it in a crap way, obviously. Just so we all understand each other.
Industry analyst Arvind Bhatia of Sterne Agee (no, me neither) has come out with a report that Nintendo's Wii U could be an absolute monster when it comes to graphical grunt. According to Mr. Bhatia,
"Some of the developers we spoke to indicated to us that the console will have 50% more processing power compared to the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. This is yet to be confirmed by Nintendo."
Yes, that's some anonymous sources, quoted by an analyst, giving vague, non-specific technical information which will no doubt act as weapons-grade flame-war fuel regardless, rounded off with an admission of non-confirmation. All we need now is to have the source discovered to be a couple of unverified Twitter accounts and have Nintendo drop in a "We do not comment on rumour or speculation", and by God people, we have internet gold. Oh, and if a dev wants to mention "pushing the console to its limits", that would be just great too.
Cynicism aside though, if this is true then it's very good news indeed, and would in fact make a great deal of sense. I've been saying since the Wii U was unveiled that for it to have any kind of a respectable life as a hardcore console, it needs generation 1.5 kind of horsepower. The next Xbox and PlayStation are still a good few years away, but launching next year, Nintendo's new machine needs at least enough power to carry it a fair way past the next-gen crossover point if it's going to avoid becoming obsolete before it has a chance to live. Nintendo is a smart company, and it must know that (even though it's unlikely to ever admit that after its highfalutin "graphics don't matter" mantra with the Wii), and I'd be very surprised if it was naive enough to not give the Wii U enough power to compete in the core gaming space for a worthwhile amount of time.
What do you reckon? Plausible? Does this in fact have to be true for the Wii U to succeed? And if it is true, is this enough to get to to back Ninty again after so long in the hardcore wilderness?
June 14, 2011