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Do you feel that the Wii U deserves the derision? [roundtable]
 
Jargo's filthy porn thread has no heat, so I'm going to repost and expand this over here.

... as a roundtable.

It's a little strange to me that the Wii U has already acquired the stench of failure, along with all of the webbenfreude that comes with it. Take that, Urban Dictionary! Although I guess it's actually not that strange, since there are a lot of factions in gamedom (Western third-parties, much of the gaming media, 'hardcore gamers') that always seem to be waiting on pins and needles for the Big N to fuck up. Irrational paranoia? Maybe. Regardless, the stigma is unfortunate and somewhat unwarranted. I think that the Wii U hardware/features, in general, are very well executed. The Wii U does what it sets out to do very well (aside from a few technical issues, like the transition times). And the things that it sets out to do (Miiverse, off-TV play, backwards compatibility, asynchronous multiplayer) are pretty neat and progressive in a truly useful way. Of course, very little of that charm can be communicated through words. I think that if more people actually got their hands on the system in a proper environment, they would genuinely enjoy it. It's a neat piece of kit that does feel somewhat like the future, or at least one possible future. (That said, I tried an in-store demo kiosk the other day, and it was pretty terrible. The Gamepad is tethered to the TV by a super-thick, restrictive coiled wire. It really killed the feeling of freedom and just made me want to stop playing. Kind of the same problem that Wii kiosks had.)

The real chink in the system's armor is the third-party support. You've read the articles. You've seen the release schedule. You know what's up. It's like the Wii, except we're not even getting low-budget attempts at innovation anymore. We're just getting ports of varying quality, the occasional multiplatform title, and... nothing. As with the Wii, Western third-parties seem to have made a self-fulfilling prophecy about the system's performance in the market. But, UNLIKE the Wii, the Wii U doesn't have the gonzo sales to attempt to combat that prophecy. Nintendo's only recourse at this point seems to be to publish more and more first- and second-party games. But will that be good enough to attain success. Is there ANY way that Nintendo can get decent support from Western third-parties? The situation in Japan isn't great, either, but at least that has the potential to change. Western support, I'm not so sure about.

Anyway, you've all heard of these things before. But now that more and more (worrying) information has started to leak out about the competing consoles, 'old-fashioned, stuck-in-their-ways' Nintendo is starting to look relatively pro-consumer.

- Full backwards compatibility
- Free internet services, including media streaming
- Used game capability
- Easy expandability
- Tons of truly exclusive software
- Off-TV play
- Day one downloadable retail games

So my question is: Are the people who are gleefully mocking the Wii U right now going to just bend over and take next gen? Will they sacrifice their rights as a consumer in order to play... I dunno, that Star Wars game? Will they keep paying extra for season passes and special editions? Will they pay MS a subscription just to be able to use basic features? Will they allow massive third-party publishers like EA to run the poker table? To slowly exsanguinate them with a constant, steady stream of nickel-and-diming?

I think the answer is... probably.

This rambling mess was brought to you by Nintendo.

It could also easily turned into a similar diatribe about the Vita.

Oh, and also, everyone might just go PC, instead. But probably not.

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Posted: 02/13/13, 22:15:07  - Edited by 
 on: 02/13/13, 22:16:49
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@Jargon
@Anand

HAHAHHA!!! I didn't realize it was -3 either, it was just mixed in with everything!!

Now..who do you, you know,...like-like?

@Stephen

Ironically, the Killer Ap was probably Rayman. Nice sabotage, MS!

@Shadowlink

Word Razdan.
Posted: 02/14/13, 00:46:15
kriswright said:
I worry it could be Nintendo's Saturn.
I... can't even picture that.

@Mop it up
I also agree with this. Nintendo hasn't made a killer app for the Gamepad yet. But the hardware itself has been implemented effectively, from my perspective. The tech is surprisingly capable. If the system had decent support (even just something approaching parity with current PS360 releases), I think that people would be absolutely loving it.

@Deerock69
Well... Sony gives you a bunch of games to play for free, and they add more all of the time. So your free PS+ library effectively gets bigger and bigger. BUT if you cancel the service, you lose it. So, really, they're just granting you a free license to play those games while you're a member. It seems kind of off-putting, but, hey, if you really want to play the game, you can play it. If I had a PlayStation 3, I feel that PS+ would give me the motivation to actually play through games, instead of putting them off forever.

Kal-El814 said:
The notion that developers want Nintendo to fail or out of the hardware game is bizarre. I have no idea where you're coming from with that. Especially since most developers that don't have 1st or 2nd party loyalty develop games for Nintendo platforms. You'd need to do some impressive mental gymnastics to conceive a scenario in which companies are spending money on software development with the purpose of undermining a hardware manufacturer... Weird.
Hmm, there are rational reasons. I'm pretty sure they weren't too happy about the Wii's success.

What if Nintendo had PS2-level third-party support in addition to its first-party stuff (although that seems hard to imagine in this online-centric era)? What if the other systems had a meager install base? Third-parties would then have to compete with Nintendo on their own platform, which they aren't keen to do (whether because they don't think they can compare in quality or because of the ol' "only Nintendo games sell on Nintendo systems" chestnut). I genuinely believe that big third-parties generally don't want to see Nintendo succeed.

Kal-El814 said:
I think we're overstating some problems, here.

Content thin games that need DLC to flesh them out don't really happen with on-disc releases on the home consoles all that often, and when they do, they get roasted. Besides, stuff like NSMB 2 show that Nintendo is willing to jump on that train, too. Sony and PC games have free online gaming.
But I wasn't saying that ONLY Nintendo offers all of those things (content-rich games, free online, backwards compatibility (although...)). I was just listing them as positive pro-consumer bullet points for their corner. Of course, the PC platform has tons of advantages for those who are willing and able to go that route. And, like I said above, I think that Sony is currently bending over backwards to give their consumers more value. Stuff like cross-buy... I mean, how does that even make financial sense?! But it sure is nice for the consumer. That said, they are coming from a position of desperation. Let's see how their strategy changes in the coming years. I mean, if MS is the cheese that stands alone in always-online-no-used-games-subscription-fee town, aren't they just committing suicide? If there wasn't some kind of cartel action happening behind the scenes, I doubt that they would take those radical steps.

Also, the DLC thing was part of what I was considering as 'pro-consumer as a side effect of archaic practices'. I know that they've started to use it now, and they might continue in the future. But I don't think they'll ever take it as far as most others. It's not really in their DNA.
Posted: 02/14/13, 00:47:36  - Edited by 
 on: 02/14/13, 01:26:19
@kriswright I get what you're trying to say, but it isn't that great of a parallel. For starters, in the end, the Genesis was outsold by the SNES, whereas the Wii remains the leader of its generation. Secondly, I don't think you can compare the Motion Plus to the Sega CD and/or 32X. It's a controller accessory that cost $20 by itself, less when bundled with games, not some ~$150 add-on to the console itself. It was then soon combined with the Wiimote itself at no extra cost, so anyone who bought a new Wii or Wiimote after that received one. Lastly, the stand-alone accessory sold 20+ million, plus whatever all the Wiimote Pluses sold, so it's a far more successful accessory than Sega's add-ons.

Skepticism surrounds every console launch, especially Nintendo's. Lots of people questioned the merits of the Super Nintendo when it came out, seeing it as just a way to get people to spend more money rather than seeing the technical boosts it provided.
Posted: 02/14/13, 00:48:38
Anand said:

I also agree with this. Nintendo hasn't made a killer app for the Gamepad yet. But the hardware itself has been implemented effectively, from my perspective. The tech is surprisingly capable. If the system had decent support (even just something approaching parity with current PS360 releases), I think that people would be absolutely loving it.


So true. The reactions of people who have spent time with the Wii U are very different from the sentiments echoed through the media and mainstream gaming forums right now. Even with the current games. There's a lot of good there, it's just not being checked out by enough people. That gives it good snowball potential.
Posted: 02/14/13, 00:50:28
@Infinitywave
But a total third-party freeze-out would make that potential pretty hard to achieve.
Posted: 02/14/13, 00:54:52
I think if the current and future lineup wasn't as weak as it is, there wouldn't be nearly as much vitriol. People should be talking about the games, and they aren't.

As someone who really enjoyed NSMBU and ZombiU, I mostly shrugged off a lot of the negativity surrounding its launch, because I was very happy with the games I picked up. But I can also very easily see why the launch lineup didn't appeal to a lot of people, particularly if you already owned a PS3 and/or 360. There was nothing about the Wii U launch that screamed "you have to get this NOW", both in terms of the lineup and the system's power (unless you only owned a Wii, which then you'd be looking at Wii U as having a damn good launch lineup).

That's really the problem. As a 360/PS3/Wii owner, the Wii U just doesn't have the "feel" of a new system launch. I've enjoyed my time with it so far, but it's not like I would have felt like I was missing out if I hadn't picked it up yet. And the one game that really sells the console the best right now is in a pretty niche genre nowadays, much to my chagrin. I can see why people aren't buying ZombiU in droves, even though I think they should because it's fucking awesome.

And then, there's Rayman which was the only new, Wii U game that I was looking forward to for quite a while, and that getting delayed until Fall definitely hurts. We know the good first party stuff is coming down the road, but beyond Pikmin and TW101, nothing is tangible. And it's not like we didn't expect a new Mario, Smash, Mario Kart going in. Third party support (both western and Japanese) is looking grim. You can tolerate this kind of drought when you have a strong launch lineup like the GameCube had, but I would imagine from an outsider's perspective, there just isn't a whole lot about Wii U to be excited about right now.
Posted: 02/14/13, 01:01:29
@Mop it up

Agreed. As I say, it's not super serious. The primary takeaway is that the Genesis didn't deliver on its potential toward the end and that clouded the Saturn's early life and I fear a similar relationship between the Wii and Wii U. But I'm not taking a strong stand, there. 2 or 3 amazing must-have games for the Wii U would kill this metaphor stone dead. And I look forward to hearing about those games tomorrow.

But I do think the Wii U is in deeper than the typical "new console malaise" you guys are attributing all this talk to. It's probably closer to the 3DS's launch, really, which I think we all agree wasn't handled very well. But Nintendo seems to have turned that around. So there are good reasons to be positive. Especially after the last Nintendo Direct.
Posted: 02/14/13, 01:06:17
Anand said:
@Infinitywave
But a total third-party freeze-out would make that potential pretty hard to achieve.

But that won't happen. Even if you change that to a total Western third-party freeze-out it simply won't happen. Too much money on the table for Western publishers to ignore. Nintendo can reach gamers the same way they always do. The first-party games will sell the machine, third-party games just increase the software attach rate. It's up to Nintendo to get things moving sooner rather than later, but it will happen and when it does there will be 3rd party games wanting your cash.
Posted: 02/14/13, 01:08:17
@Infinitywave I think it might happen to some extent. Publishers never saw much of a market for their big stuff on the Wii, so they ignored it there. The stuff developers pushed to the Wii were mostly these low budget side things. But I don't think anyone sees a market for that on the Wii U right now either, and if that stuff doesn't come, what will? 3rd party ports of HD games? Often late, if they come at all? That stuff won't sell and they might just throw their hands up and say F it, why bother, like many did at the end of the Wii.

I dunno. I don't think things are all doom and gloom, but I do think that most "core" gamers won't bother with the Wii U, so unless Nintendo can capture the casuals again in some form... it could be rough.

What Nintendo really needs is another "Wii Sports" or "Wii Fit". But not just a sequel to one of those. Something that captures people again on that level. What would that even be though? Nintendo tried Wii Music and Wii Party, neither of those were quite the same.

I have some doubts. I mean, as far as Nintendo success. For my tastes, I'm sure things will be fine, if a little slow at times.
Posted: 02/14/13, 01:32:35  - Edited by 
 on: 02/14/13, 01:34:38
@Zero, yeah the situation is quite different from last gen but overall I'd be surprised if the support got much better or worse.

The Wii had instant success but took 3rd parties too much by surprise and many publishers saw its limited power and motion controls as a barrier to their games being released.

The Wii U is selling like an average console (lagging at the moment due to the weird lack of advertising), but it's much easier to port games to, and the GamePad is very useful without requiring a total gameplay overhaul. Considering the 360 and PS3 will be supported for another couple years, more enhanced ports are likely from the West. Meanwhile Nintendo has a strong base in Japan, which all but guarantees interesting JPN exclusives.

There are already quite a few titles in the line-up that buy the Wii U credibility in the eyes of the mainstream core. I -am- a glass half full kinda guy, but I only see things improving over the next couple years.
Posted: 02/14/13, 01:52:48
@Infinitywave It's not really an average console though, it's a kind of weird "middle" console that is getting treated like a PS3 / 360 and may actually not be that far from them. It's also already getting ignored for a lot of that support.

I also don't think the PS3 / 360 will be supported much longer. Sony loves talking about how their consoles get supported for years after the new ones come, but how much ACTUAL support do they get? Sports games, movie games, and a few RPGs. For the most part, when the new console hit, the old ones are done for. I think a lot of developers are already thinking "next gen" and will barely have time for PS3 / 360 games, let alone Wii U ports.

We'll see though.
Posted: 02/14/13, 02:13:56
I've always been worried about the Wii U, since the minute the Gamepad was unveiled to be the primary innovation of the system... and especially after confirmation that the system capabilities are about on par with 360/PS3. I think it should have at least been a Dreamcast style bridge to the next offerings from Sony and MS.

I don't think it's all doom and gloom, however. I'm waiting to see what effect the big Fall titles will have on sales.

Worst case scenario, I think we are looking at another Gamecube. Nintendo will get a chance to try again next time, and possibly being thrown back into third place might even lead to some interesting and bold moves from a desperate company.
Posted: 02/14/13, 02:19:17
@Anand

It is completely irrational to assume that a developer would spend money developing software for a platform with the goal of causing that platform to fail. Whether or not they "want Nintendo to succeed" is kind of a separate question, but nobody is developing software with the goal of tanking the platform for which it is developed. That's crazy.
Posted: 02/14/13, 16:55:53
Oh, I don't think anyone's mentioned the VC yet. Nintendo's handled that pretty poorly. I don't buy VC games so I don't really care myself, but for those affected I feel it's a valid criticism.
Posted: 02/14/13, 23:42:21
@kriswright
I wouldn't say the Wii died a premature death. It lived the normal 6 year life cycle of hardware. If anything, the PS3 and 360 especially are long in the tooth right now. Also, the Wii "add-ons" I suppose you are referring to the balance board and motion-plus? Not really the same as Sega CD/32X.
Saturn: in stores....NOW!
Wii U: showed at E3 2011, released 1.5 years later.

I could see more parallels to Dreamcast, but even then I think the Dreamcast could have survived if not for Sega's blunders with the Genesis-->Dreamcast transition. Nintendo's coming off their most successful hardware ever. They'll take the necessary steps to make sure this one is successful on some level, too. With or without third party support.
Posted: 02/14/13, 23:48:49
@Kal-El814
Oh, you meant sabotaging the platform by releasing a game on it? I thought you meant spending money on software development, in general. Yes, that would, indeed, be crazy.

Unless someone were making it worth their while...
Posted: 02/15/13, 03:20:29  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 03:21:39
I haven't posted in here yet because I'm sick of Wii U negativity. Most gamers aren't in the next-gen vibe yet and neither are developers. Many games being released this year have been in development for a while and there is no point on releasing on a console with a tiny install base. It's young days for the Wii U and it has a long life ahead of it so I don't know why people are saying it's a failure and that it's gonna be the next DC/GC.
Posted: 02/15/13, 03:40:26
Yeah, but that "Most Successful Hardware" tag is really only half of the story, isn't it? I mean, where's the momentum? It died years ago. I mean, years ago. That's what I mean when I compare it to Genesis.
Posted: 02/15/13, 03:42:06
If disco continues to grow at this rate... ey!
Posted: 02/21/13, 05:12:18
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