|Wii U. Better than Wii Wii, I guess.|
- 1080P HD graphics output
- Controller with 6.2 inch screen, dual analog controls, touchscreen, camera, microphone
- Output can be from the Wii U to a TV or to the controller
- Backwards compatible with all current Wii controllers and games
- Games on proprietary optical discs
- 4 USB slots
- Release in 2012
What's missing? Well, you'll notice that what they didn't say is perhaps more important than what they did say. No mention of a hard drive in the console... so you can count the rumors that said there wouldn't be one as confirmed. If they were putting one in there they would have mentioned it. What they will have is some internal flash memory, size unspecified, and the ability to connect an external USB hard drive.
Graphics resolution? No specs at all, just some nice looking video. Which means that the Wii U graphics power will probably be around the level of the Xbox 360 or PS3, perhaps somewhat below. If the graphics output was substantially better in any way (resolution, polygons, texture mapping) you can bet Nintendo would have touted it. They didn't, so I think it's a safe assumption that the Wii U will not be setting any graphics records for home consoles.
|The Wii U controller.|
There was also no mention of digital distribution, any differences in how Nintendo deals with developers, or any of the new things that have been upending the game market like social games, free-to-play, or other new business models. Seems like Nintendo is counting on business as usual; if they were gonna do something different you'd have heard them talking about it.
It's not clear, either, exactly when the Wii U will appear. I'd guess earlier in 2012 rather than later, since this announcement will probably slow Wii sales even further (especially since the Wii U is fully backward compatible).
How does the Wii U stack up against its competition? Lack of a hard drive really cripples its ability to compete with downloadable content, or even streaming content that needs substantial caching. Assuming graphics output to be roughly the same, and the pricing to be about the same or higher, the real differentiation is the controller with the screen. Though Sony may have that covered with the PS Vita, and Microsoft has already shown a connection with Windows Phone 7 devices. The installed base of the Xbox and the PS3 are huge advantages, as are their software libraries. Motion control is no longer a unique feature for Nintendo. I think all the Wii U does is level the playing field; I think Nintendo is going to have to show some unique and compelling software titles for the Wii U to make inroads against the Xbox 360 and the PS3.