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Wii U power debate: Iwata swears it will keep up with next-gen. Microsoft says 'it's a 360'

Phil Spencer, Corporate President of Microsoft Studios, has said in an interview with GamesIndustry that Nintendo is "building a platform that is effectively a 360 when you think of graphical capability", referring to the Wii U. But Nintendo's President, Satoru Iwata, while not entirely disagreeing with the core sentiment, has told investors that Wii U will not be left behind in the next generation, because the graphical differences will not be so great. So which is it?

Surely the almost seven-years-old Xbox 360 wouldn't be able to keep up with the next generation? Isn't that the whole point of a new generation of hardware? And yet, we've seen Wii U in action. We've played it, we've enjoyed it and we want one yesterday. But the demos of (the admittedly unfinished) ZombiU and Batman: Arkham City that we've seen with our very eyes look sub-Xbox 360 quality, or at least approximate to it. And none of them were running at 1080p.

Above: Oh, Wii U - how next-gen are you? And can we put a different game in, please?

Iwata's exact words to investors were: "Other companies might launch a next-generation console with more power, but we don't necessarily think that the difference between the Wii U and such consoles will be as drastic as what you felt it was between the Wii and the other consoles because there will be fewer and fewer differentiators in graphics."

He has a fair point when he talks about the gap between this gen and next and how it will not be as pronounced as that between the essentially Gamecube-powered Wii and the PS3/360. Games like Watch Dogs could probably run on an Xbox 360 with all the sliders turned down a bit. But how long is that going to last?

Above: Could Wii U run this? A version, yes. Certainly better than Wii runs Call of Duty...

He told the very same investors: "We cannot promise that the Wii U will never be excluded from multiplatform software for eternity, but we can at least assure you that the Wii U will not have such a big difference as the Wii had in comparison to how, on other platforms, developers could expect very different graphic capabilities of generating HD-applicable high-resolution graphics."

"Naturally some consumers are very sensitive about such a small difference in graphics, so that we will make efforts to make the most of the performance of the Wii U to keep up with technological innovations and not to make the system out-of-date soon."

Are you convinced? Can Nintendo squeeze enough juice from the system to keep it viable for multiplatform games well into the next generation? Or will it just become port-central for the best of the outgoing generation that never got a chance to run on Wii? Let us know in the comments.

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67 comments

  • RedOutlive. - July 7, 2012 8:25 a.m.

    Graphics aren't everything, yes, but when consumers have the option of better looks in other console, for games of the same price tag, they are a big deal and will dictate which console is just better bang for your buck.
  • TristanPR77 - July 5, 2012 8:27 a.m.

    What I don't understand is how Iwata believe he knows the specs for the next console generation. I he can't be sure of that.
  • Tjwoods18 - July 5, 2012 8:13 a.m.

    Another ps3 iteration in the works!
  • Draconilla - July 5, 2012 3:04 a.m.

    Now, I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a Nintendo loyalist first, and always will be. The fact is this console will either get first or last this gen unless one of the competition really drops the ball. Ways it could succeed (I do believe success is more likely) A year or more head start (yeah I know 360 blah blah blah) Possibly going to be more affordable (a 100 dollar difference may win the race for Ninty, especially if they keep their games at 50 for launch price, something I rarely see people mention) Great third party support (strong, updated ports are a good sign, for launch titles anyway, games like Assassins creed 3 and Darksiders 2 I will wait to get on Wii U if the launch isn't too staggered) A good balance of motion control and traditional control (I believe revealing the pro gamepad straight away may indicate this, however I am not sure, it is also up to the third parties) Nintendo First Party Titles (of course) Appearing to be easy to program for (now this I would say is THE Trump card, the amount of ports and claims that the Wii U is similar to program for with the 360 indicate this, remember that the ps3 was killed by being tough to program for, not really hating on the ps3, but it did lack good games early on for this very reason) Reasons it could FAIL Third party support fades away (this is mostly related to how the next consoles of this gen work, the early start could mitigate this, but it is a big threat) Nintendo drops the ball (this could be on anything, pricing, control balance, whatever.) Next consoles both show a clearly superior hardware and are relaticely easy to program for. (Sorry this is the vivgest threat imo) Well heres my two cents on the Matter
  • ParagonT - July 4, 2012 10:09 p.m.

    Lets be real here, graphics are not the only thing that a higher spec computer (console) gives, it also gives the ability for developers to push the physics, AI, connectivity, and threshold of available resources for the game to a new heights, plus much more. In the end although, it's up to developers to use the console and what it can provide to create the game experience. So the developers does not have to use the more powered computer, but I would rather have the resources there, than to hope that through the years they don't wish to upgrade. Anyways, the fact that if we keep consoles as low spec'd as they are right now will just give developers a reason to stop pushing the boundaries of gaming and trying to advance the industry. They will be content to create games on a lower spec'd piece of hardware, get paid the same, and make just as much money. To each their own, but I want to give developers room to grow the industry. It's time for consumers to expect more, not the same. The time that we all are content with the threshold of gaming (at the time), is more money that companies are making when game development advances it's tools and efficiency as well. Developers and publishers will only develop as much as what is expected of them for the price they ask for. Just because they get used to the older computers (consoles) does not mean that they will make more content or make games more intricate as time goes forward.
  • Smash_Bro - July 4, 2012 9:14 p.m.

    > "Is it going to make my games look as pretty as on my PC? No? Fuck it, I'm not buying one." ...Is this what we've come to? Entire consoles are based solely on their graphical capabilities? It isn't considered next-gen if the games don't LOOK good enough? *sigh* > "We cannot promise that the Wii U will never be excluded from multiplatform software for eternity, ..." Iwata's words are true; not necessarily due to graphics but developers either won't have time or be too lazy to make a version of their game that is Wii U-specific, which is a real shame. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- TLDR: Consoles shouldn't be judged so heavily on their graphical capabilities, and 3rd parties shouldn't ignore Wii U because of the unique control scheme.
  • haxxoromg - July 4, 2012 8:55 p.m.

    wow deja vue. they said the same thing when the wii was launched and look how that turned out. Does the guy really think that a console that can only play fancier current gen games on medium-low settings will be able to compete with whatever sony/microsoft has in store? say what you will, but graphics still have a long way to go before they stop evolving (look at the new unreal) and devs arent going to slow down and wait for nintendo to realize that.
  • badgraphix1 - July 4, 2012 6:30 p.m.

    From what I'm seeing it certainly does look on par with a 360, which to say the least is pretty disappointing. If that is the case then I think we will in fact have a similar situation to the Wii. However, if it actually turns out to be notably more powerful than the current set of consoles and the games we're seeing, it's going to be in a boat similar to the Dreamcast. Unlike the Dreamcast though, I think it will still manage to stay afloat because it's Nintendo and they can rely off that gimmicky tablet. If it's this scenario I think it'll get a fair amount of third party games.
  • Chambertlo - July 4, 2012 6:41 p.m.

    "Gimmicky" tablet? Really? Have you not seen how succesful the DS was based on a similar "gimmick"? If it's such a gimmick, why is everyone and their mother suddenly thinking about releasing something similar for their future consoles? Oh, and I suppose "Project Glass" is a gimmick as well. Give me $%^&ing break.
  • badgraphix1 - July 5, 2012 7:39 p.m.

    " If it's such a gimmick, why is everyone and their mother suddenly thinking about releasing something similar for their future consoles?" Obviously because it increases sales. My entire argument was that the tablet is one of the key factors preventing them from failing. It doesn't change the fact that it's a gimmick.
  • Chambertlo - July 4, 2012 6:24 p.m.

    So, apparently a system that outputs games that have the graphical fidelity of a sixth generation 360 in it's first generation is now a bad thing? WTF? Hasn't Nintendo proven that power means nothing when it comes to which company is ultimately more successful?While Sony is slowly bleeding dry and Microsoft is hemorrhaging money, it looks like Nintendo is going to have to kick both their asses a second time before they finally "get it". Hilarious.
  • ParagonT - July 4, 2012 9:49 p.m.

    The only reason that people can proudly say "The Wii proves that power means nothing" is because of the audience and type of people they are marketing to; the old and really young. Both of those audiences I'm sure would have purchased a PS3 or 360 if both of those consoles pushed out games for the casual, and also perfected and focused on a controller (kinect/move) early as well. Thus I really think that that statement can only be said due to the target demographic that the Wii pursues. Does that specific demographic even care about graphics, games, and the like? No, they just care about what seems "fun" or "appropriate" for them. I'm glad the Wii did well, but it did not do well because of the "core" gamers, it did well because it targeted a less knowledgeable demographic I believe in general. If you don't think power matters, then what made people leap from any previous system? Just because they could?
  • markshell - July 4, 2012 3:31 p.m.

    Whatever dudes. Give me Wind Waker and Mario Galaxy in HD. For the other games I'll buy the NextBox.
  • Tjwoods18 - July 4, 2012 5:30 p.m.

    Xbox 8
  • inkyspot - July 4, 2012 2:45 p.m.

    Xbox Needs to step it's game up, and stop tryingg to make it better with Kinect, because it isn't. Wii U,... Harr, I am sure it will have it's fanbase. Imagine Mario in High Rez, you can see all the pimples on his nose. It's the PS4's game to lose. Let's see who gets the second spot.
  • NullG7 - July 4, 2012 4:31 p.m.

    It seems you forget the possibility of a new Xbox coming out at some point.
  • Turtman - July 4, 2012 2 p.m.

    Who caaaaaaaares?
  • DictatorStan - July 4, 2012 5:04 p.m.

    Me.
  • StrongPillow - July 4, 2012 1:54 p.m.

    Ok I read the comments and the one thing that annoyed me the most was that no one mentioned the Wii's price point when it came out. It was by far the cheapest console on the market or course it was going to dominate at that time. With it's new gimmicks and cute mascots. It was for the children at a price parents could justify paying for a 5 year old to drool all over it. Now though it's not the same deal. Ya they have a new gimmick but this is not cheap piece of plastic you wave in the air and the other thing that gets me interested is why there has been no price announced. Nintendo did well in the children's section. I am not so sure they are going to do as well with the big boys. They say the 3DS sucked because of it's launch line up. I say it sucked because people are catching on to their gimmicks.
  • Chambertlo - July 4, 2012 6:29 p.m.

    You (much like the person who's opinions are expressed in this article) obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

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