Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wii U vs. Xbox 360 vs. PS3: About Even

Wii U. Better than Wii Wii, I guess.
Nintendo has announced the final name of Project Cafe: Wii U. Just when you thought the Wii name was the strangest console name ever... Wii U. Nintendo introduced the console with some nice accolades from industry executives, some good-looking graphics videos, and plenty of laudatory exposition. Actual details about the hardware were rather scarce. Here's what we know:

  • 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.
Price? No, no mention of that. Again, I think if they were planning to have a substantial price advantage over the Xbox 360 or the PS3 they would have mentioned it. Although, since they are more than six months away from the release date, keeping their options open is a good idea. Microsoft may well decide to drop the Xbox 360 price for the holidays, with the spectre of the Wii U looming for 2012. I'd guess that Nintendo will come in at least at $299, and quite possibly higher.

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.


  1. God then. The game lineup will be good. The problem with getting specs this early is they probably aren't final yet. It was just e3. They have another year.

    There is no reason the 3rd party devs won't develop for this. The problem with the wii (I'm a homebrew game dev myself) was that it was hard to port from the ps3 and xbox to the wii. Now that the barriers are removed, they will make a comeback. And, as most hipsters will agree, Nintendo has always been the way to go. The wii just failed to start the "Revolution" that they wanted (because of the strange FPS craze striking modern teenagers).

  2. I disagree on the first part of your statement Ryan. If they are 6 months to a year out they have to be in production already. they probably have a warehouse full ready to be shipped to retailers.
    As to the second part I agree. I hated the wii because they ruined Zelda games with sub par graphics but Ill go for the Wii U just for Zelda and Mario

  3. I think they still have a lit that could change within a year. Especially with some of the "negatives" the article is bringing up (lack of hard drive And business models), they are something that can be added much later into the game. However all the speculation about graphics resolution is just that, speculation.

  4. This new system is made for core gamers nintendo will not give out to much info as they dont want microsoft and sony to drop there prices with or with out a hard drive this system will have a huge impact on gaming just wish it would get here already the question is can they drag more people away from xbox360 and ps3? and yep i agree nintendo is the way to go

  5. even though it has a screen it is such sucky controller. probably break into half when playing call of duty.

  6. This is just a game cube with motion control (wii), 1080p, and the worst controllers since the Atari 5200, despite the screen. And those controllers are going to drive the price up to probably $499. And it will come with one controller, and add-ons will be $99.00

    Mario Fail.

  7. LIKE A BOSS! Wii U will hopefully be in competition with the ps3 and xbox 360. Go Mario!

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