Nintendo is sticking with its traditional hardware cycle [five to seven years], but Microsoft and Sony are stretching theirs. That means that while the Wii U will launch as a relatively powerful machine, it may no longer seem so in just a couple of years when its competitors release their next-generation consoles. Consequently, some people are expressing concern that Wii U might date itself quickly...
Three comments. First, it’s not about power. If it was about power, then the GameCube would have been the number one system in its generation and the Wii wouldn’t have been the number one system in this last generation. It is not about power. It is about fun, it is about the experience.
Second. Our competitors can say what they want about some super long cycle, but let’s see what their behaviours are.
Thirdly, the way development works is that the longer developers work with a system, the better they can tune performance. Case in point: Look at the very first GameCube games, and compare them to a game like Resident Evil 4. It was graphically beautiful, and demonstrably more advanced than the first GameCube games.
The same was true for Wii. A great example is Super Mario Galaxy 2. The graphics are just beautiful. And look at the motion control we were able to achieve in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
The longer developers work on a system the more they tune it, the more they push the system, the more they learn tricks to really optimize performance. I share this because what you see here at E3 are games that represent a relatively short amount of development time. Imagine what we’ll see two years from now when developers have been working with Wii U longer and learn how to push everything out of the system.
Our competitors will do what they want. From our perspective, this is the right time to launch a new piece of hardware. And, the fun, the capabilities, and the experiences that we’re offering today with a second screen are demonstrably better than what can be done today on other platforms.
Would you admit that, with Wii, Nintendo lost some of the hardcore gaming audience?
You know, I really chafe at that comment. Define the hardcore. I know people who are playing Smash Bros. Brawl competitively today. They’re playing hours on that game. People are playing hours on New Super Mario Bros.
What I’ll tell you is that with the Wii we did not have the benefit of multiplatform games from key publishers. I didn’t have The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I didn’t have the best of the Call of Duty games. That’s what I missed.
With the Wii U’s graphics capability, processing power, and HD-output, we’ll get those games. That’s a huge competitive advantage versus where we were with the Wii.
Third-party publishers need to see more than just capable hardware. There needs to be a sizable audience. To create an exclusive, high-quality game for a new platform, they have to believe that they’ll sell a certain number of copies. It’s very early in the Wii U’s lifecycle. How are you approaching third-parties to create these games for Wii U?
Well, the proposition for a third-party publisher or independent developer is pretty simple. We need to show them that the install base is there for them to sell a quantity of games that represents a profitable proposition.
What we’re sharing with these publishers and developers is how first-party games will drive an install base, and how, from a marketing standpoint, we’ll reach the type of consumers that they want to create content for.
Then we have to deliver on it. What will help us are games like Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition, Assassin’s Creed III, Mass Effect 3 and Zombi U.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I appreciate it.
The preceding interview was condensed and edited for flow.