In my latest gaming filled ideas brainstorm, I stopped to contemplate Nintendo’s new hardware: the Wii U. Nintendo showed off the Wii U at least year’s E3 and even went as far as to show off the new controller with touch screen, along with some titles some nifty tech demos. The discussion mainly around the Wii U was that it would now allow the Mario-loving powerhouse that is Nintendo to play in the AAA hardcore gamer market and have the ability to graphically support true 1080p HD titles.
Now, let’s fast forward to this year’s upcoming E3 and what Nintendo will need to announce in order to make the Wii U a true success with the hardcore gamer market.
The Wii U is Nintendo’s sixth home console and their attempt to break away from the casual market for which the Wii has become known for dominating. The Wii has had strong first party titles, but never really held up when it came to translating titles like Madden, Call of Duty and the other big AAA titles because of its lack of processing power and graphical capabilities. Introduce, now, the Wii U — which, if I had to guess, will be getting a firm release date this E3 and will most likely become available right before this year’s holiday season.
From what we have seen so far, the Wii U looks to be able to handle graphics in stride with its new fancy IBM processor, which means you can now enjoy the Battlefield style games as you would on the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles. However, there is one major component that is still lacking: an online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery system like PSN or Xbox Live.
Honestly, all the graphics in the world will be great and will certainly help Nintendo move away from catering to the “casual” gamer. But without an announcement focusing on some sort of new online portion to handle the multiplayer aspects of games like Call of Duty and Battlefield, the Wii U will just be a prettier console for casual gamers. In order for the Wii U to succeed in this new generation of gaming, Nintendo needs to develop and/or announce a new platform that they will be able to handle the online play and DLC of big AAA titles.
This generation of gamers play games, especially ones like Call of Duty, to play socially with friends online; and the Wii currently — aside from not having the capability to play in 1080p — has perhaps the worst online component in gaming.
If the Wii U is to move forward and embrace the hardcore market, it needs to be able to allow for those players to play competitively and seamlessly online. The trouble here is that it will also move Nintendo into a realm where children may be exposed to more mature things such as foul language for example, something that seems to always accompany online play. Will Nintendo make the leap of faith into online and embrace the hardcore segment, or just release the Wii U without a new online platform and hope that graphics will be enough? Let’s keep our eyes open this E3 and see where the cookie crumbles.