This week Darksiders II developer Marvin Donald caused a bit of a stir with his comments about the Wii U's hardware. "So far
the [Wii U] hardware's been on par with what we have in the current generations," said Donald in an interview with Game Reactor. Kotaku
rightly pointed out that critical "so far" in his statement and it makes the whole thing a little less worrisome.
However, since everyone seems to be sounding the death knell for Wii U over it, I thought I'd give my stab at ten reasons why the Wii U will succeed, especially with gamer parents.
1) Backward compatibility
What's the joke about Wii owners? They don't buy games, they just play Wii Sports? Well if you're a gamer, you probably own at least a few titles, both for yourself and for your kids. Games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, or Mario Kart. Or Zelda Skyward Sword. Or Xenoblade Chronicles. Or (cough) Monster Hunter Tri (cough). It will be nice that the Wii U will be able to play those games, preserving your investment in iconic Nintendo titles.
This feature becomes more of a selling point now that it looks like at least Sony's next Playstation console won't be able to play PS3 games at all.
2) Up-scaling of old games to HD
And now that you've got that big TV you always wanted, won't it be great to be able to play those games you already bought, upscaled to look nice on your big HDTV? Because the Wii U will be able to take the 480p resolution of the original Wii games and bring it up to 1080p.
Those of you familiar with upscaling might argue that just because it's 1080p doesn't mean the old games will look as nice as new Wii U games. Of course they won't. But they'll look better than they do now on your plasma or LCD TV.
3) "On par" hardware will mean on par price
Nintendo is launching the Wii U into a market that has the PS3 and 360 selling for $250 and $199, respectively. Prices may vary depending on the configuration and peripherals included. If the Wii U does indeed have hardware that is on par with its competitors, Nintendo can afford to introduce it at a price to match. I'm predicting $350, which will cover the premium of a 'new' console, with the tablet controller. A PS3 with Move controllers or a 360 with Kinect are about the same price, for now.
If Nintendo dramtically increased the hardware spec, the price would probably jump to over $400, and at that price it will be a tough sell.
4) Nintendo 1st party exclusive titles
When you have kids, there are few game characters that are more endearing than what Nintendo has to offer. My girls gravitate towards Yoshi and Peach, but I'm sure your kids have their favourites, as do mom and dad!
The power of Mario is undeniable as a brand, and Nintendo has a lock on him and his friends.
Throw in Link & Zelda, maybe Kirby or Pikmin, and perennial favourites like Mario Kart and Smash Bros. and the first party lineup of game franchises is strong and deep.
5) Third-party developer support
If Nintendo has had a weakness over the years, however, it's the lack of third party developers. That seems to be a thing of the past now, with several major developers stepping up and announcing they will release games for the Wii U. Nintendo has said nary a peep about their own games since the Wii U reveal, but other developers have been talking a lot about the Wii U recently, like Ubisoft with Assassin's Creed III, or Vigil with Darksiders II.
It's a sign that things are different with the Wii U this time around, and we can look forward to playing more than just Wii Sports at launch.
6) Strong launch lineup
Speaking of launch, have you seen the leaked list
of potential launch titles? It's quite long, and if its true it could mean upwards of 25 or more games available for the Wii U at launch. That's extremely positive for the system, and speaks to how many third party games there are going to be on the system.
7) Two words: Skylanders Giants
Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure is HUGE right now. This is the game that marries collectible figurines with unlockable in game characters. When you place the figurines on the "Portal of Power" (a special hardware unit with a built in sensor) the same playable character is unlocked in game.
With the upcoming Skylanders Giants game in the works, the developer is looking at perhaps integrating the NFC capabilities
of the Wii U tablet to use that as the sensor for recognizing the figurines. In any case, it's bound to be another huge success, if its anything like the surprise hit that Skylanders was.
8) One to two year window of opportunity
Both Sony and Microsoft have made noises indicating that they're not replacing the PS3 or 360 anytime soon. If the recent Sony Playstation "Orbis" rumours are to be believed, it will be holiday 2013, which would give Nintendo a year with the Wii U. If there are any unforseen delays, Nintendo will have even more time to penetrate the market.
9) Consumers looking to upgrade
Do you know how many Wii's Nintendo has shipped? Would you believe over 94 million units (as of the end of 2011)? If only 5 percent of existing Wii owners upgrade to the new model in the first year, that's 4.7 million units. That puts it square in the middle of the numbers as compared to the first year
of the original Wii (5.84 million), the Xbox 360 (5 million), and the PS3 (3.61 million). Keep in mind these three consoles were all competing against each other, with all of them launching within 10 months of each other.
10) Streaming games to the new tablet controller
Gamer parents are going to find this to be an awesome feature, if it works as advertised. Say you're in the middle of playing Assassin's Creed III and the kids want to come in and watch Dinosaur Train or something. You can just continue playing while they watch their show. And you can hide the fact that you're murdering people while they watch cartoons... or something like that. So maybe you're not winning the parent of the year award for that one, but hey, it's pretty cool.
So there you have it, my ten reasons why gamer parents are going to love the Wii U, and why it will succeed. It will have to come in at the right price, and have strong launch titles, but I'm counting on great Nintendo franchise titles and third party triple-A titles to push the system forward.
And hey, if I'm wrong, at least we have the Xbox 720 and Playstation 4 to look forward to, right?