During today’s E3 press conference Nintendo announced that some recent triple A titles and an Xbox 360-like “Pro controller” will be making their way to the company’s upcoming console, the Wii U. Nintendo has been playing catch up since the launch of the original Wii back in 2006 – a standard definition console that eventually floundered during the rise of HD gaming, and is likely trying to recapture the more serious gamers it lost to Sony and Microsoft’s graphically superior consoles over the last few years.
It’s been known for some time now that if any big name title had the misfortunate of being pushed onto Nintendo’s previous gaming console it was going to come out the other end with watered down graphics and clunky motion controls. Because of its control scheme, the Wii thrived on games that were made specifically for it, but unfortunately only maybe a dozen of those tailored titles in recent memory had depth enough to hold the attention of the more serious gaming crowd.
With the Wii U, Nintendo is finally bringing its hardware up to date with current consoles, and tablet controller or not, the gimmicks aren’t going to win it dominance in this already-established generation. Because the Wii U will be able to graphically support the kind of blockbuster games that became popular on other consoles, titles like Mass Effect 3 and Batman: Arkham City were announced to be available at the Wii U launch, along with an optional “Pro controller” that will allow gamers to play the same way they do on other consoles. The console is likely to see more ports of big gaming titles, most at the same quality as their Xbox and PS3 counterparts.
The Wii U’s biggest obstacle is that it’s only now catching up to the current generation of consoles, which have not even run out their life cycle. Gamers who are happy with either their PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360s are not likely to plunk down even more cash to play the same games they played last year, or can play comfortably on the console they already own.
The success of the Wii U among more serious gamers is going to depend entirely on the kind of exclusives Nintendo can grab. The company has already announced the standard fare of exclusive Nintendo franchises for the console – the Marios and Wii Fit of the next generation – but Nintendo is going to have to make sure it can secure some kind of new IP that will at least be on par with the Halo and Uncharted franchises that have made Xbox and Sony systems so popular if it wants to bring those gamers back.
It’s good to see the gaming giant attempting to make its way back to the middle of the spectrum, but unless Nintendo has some serious tricks up its sleeve it may find that those gamers who played the hell out of the Super NES and N64 consoles back in the day have fled forever.