Who cares if Wii U is less powerful than PS3? Not Nintendo...

Opinion: Tech innovation gets people excited, but it's the software that really sells Nintendo consoles, argues John Dean

Murmurs of the next Xbox and PlayStation 4 have only surfaced in the past few months, but Nintendo's next contender has been bubbling away for quite a while.

The Wii U's baffling reveal at last year's E3 might have left most onlookers confused, but it gave one vital piece of info away: Nintendo isn't in a hurry.

When sales dip down from sky-high to the floor, it's easy to forget about the initial wave of money. And where other companies make substantial profits and plunge it straight back into R&D, Nintendo made colossal sums and saved it all up for a rainy day.


This isn't the only way that Nintendo's different, either. It's easy enough to make snap judgements, but the past decade has taught us that this isn't always wise. The Nintendo DS sounded like a disaster, and ended up setting the world on fire.

Rumours state that the Wii U will be less graphically powerful than both the Xbox 360 and the PS3, but we don't think this feels like any real cause for concern, for the three simple reasons listed below.

Hardware isn't everything
On paper, the Wii sounded like a joke. Using technical components that many defined as last-gen, it arrived into an industry obsessed with HD with a silly peripheral and a sleek white exterior. As it turned out, this was all it needed.

Hardcore gamers might have laughed at the tech-specs, but most people don't even know what that means. The Wii wasn't HD, but most didn't know that either. Nip back in time to 2006, and you'll remember the stupidity of the HD-ready generation. Pubs had whopping 60" tellies wired up to fuzzy TV cables, while Dixons showed off the fancy new tech with low-resolution nature DVDs. If you had a HDTV, you assumed everything was HD.

Technical knowledge has improved since then, but not enough to damage Nintendo's chances: The Wii U is HD, and that's enough. The Wii was the weakest console on the market, and still managed to annihilate the competition entirely.

It needs to be cheap
Nintendo could splash its fortunes on high-end tech in an effort to make the ultimate games machine, but who would that really benefit in the long-run? Sony's attempts to do so haven't been met with success lately, and the only reason it does so is because it has a different agenda: Sony is a technology company, whereas Nintendo is a company that uses tech to sell games.

Tech innovation is what gets people excited, but it's the software that really sells Nintendo consoles. People bought a Wii so they could play Wii Sports - but only because the price was right. Anyone with a disposable income bought one because they'd had a go on bowling at their friend's house. Add another hundred quid to the tag, and an impulse purchase would have been harder to reach.


Nintendo don't make the kind of hardware that people weigh up buying for months and months, they make silly and fun pieces of joy that people want to put in their living room immediately. Where serious gamers will weigh it up as a console, most people will treat the Wii U as a toy - it's not something they need, and unlike the other next-gen consoles, it won't replace anything else under the TV. It won't be a comprehensive media hub or a fancy-pants Blu-Ray player, but will be a lot of fun to play.

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