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The Wii U Hardware Is Fine, Graphics Are Costly And Overrated

Posted on Saturday, November 24 @ 10:43:25 PST by Jonathan_Leack
Notice how the GamePad is at the forefront? There’s a reason for that.
Discussion boards ignited when the Wii U came out seven days ago. Gamers began to proclaim that the Wii U is last generation, and that it’s another gimmicky Nintendo trap. Not only are both statements untrue, but they are a disservice to the gaming industry.

First of all, does anyone actually believe that the Wii U is less powerful than previous generation consoles? For one, several of its launch games have demonstrated that it can run multiplatform games as well as its counterparts despite receiving rushed ports. Many ports on the PlayStation 3 have come with noticeable issues, but the Wii U has handled them with ease.

Looking at the specs, especially the GPGPU and the 2GB of RAM, it’s rather clear that the Wii U is a leg up over its much older competition. It isn’t the step up that we may be used to seeing with a new generation, but it’s certainly not the step backward that many are saying it is.

Fundamentally, there’s a reason the last generation lingered for so long—and thank goodness Nintendo ended it. Graphics have gotten to a point where the processing power needed to make noticeable improvements is enormous. Sure, graphics on PC are producing 60fps with DirectX11 at 1080p, but they also require substantial cooling and an inflated credit card statement.

When Microsoft and Sony release their next consoles there’s a 99% chance that they’ll be even more powerful, but that’s at a cost. The Wii U is being offered at $299 with a deluxe version at $349, and despite the controversial hardware Nintendo is taking a loss on every sale. After seeing the PlayStation 3 struggle for six years because of its high cost of entry, it’s unlikely that anyone is willing to take that gamble in today’s market climate. At most, Microsoft and Sony will debut their most affordable SKU at $399, and anything more would be a mistake.

So you’re telling me that these graphics aren’t good enough?

Then you have the entire dilemma of developers spending too much time and effort on visual presentation. It’s a trend that has ramped up in recent years and has left studios with enormous budgets and lengthy development cycles. Listen, I know that great graphics are nice to see—remember, I’m the guy with a $1500 PC—but gameplay is always more important. There have been too many games that have focused on looking great, and haven’t prioritized the main reason we play video games: fun.

I’ve seen the argument that this inherently means that developers are bottlenecked on the Wii U, and the people that say that must really underestimate what the GamePad offers. In Call of Duty: Black Ops 2’s case you can play local multiplayer with a friend while one uses the GamePad and the other uses the television. Meanwhile, Nintendo Land has shown us how the GamePad’s microphone, camera, touch screen, and motion capabilities can create unique experiences. I can only imagine what this could mean for Zelda and other AAA franchises.

Developers who are focused on trying to make the most realistic video games possible—I'm talking to you 4A Games—have the right to be upset that the affordable nature of the Wii U can't accomodate them, but why not play to the console's strengths and show that they're creative? After seeing how the Wii U's GamePad dramatically intensified the ZombiU experience, it baffles me that a studio would turn a cold shoulder and say the hardware isn't worth their time. Quite frankly, that's the last thing this stagnated industry needs.

In a nutshell, the Wii U will show that it belongs in the next generation, and its GamePad is more significant than faster RAM and a quicker CPU would provide. In the end, the next Xbox and PlayStation are also likely to have antiquated hardware upon release, so if you love great graphics, you better get a gaming PC.
Tags:   Wii U, Nintendo

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