The debate begins. The Wii U isn’t even out yet and Nintendo hasn’t officially announced specs for the system, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t going to talk. For the last few weeks we’ve been hearing rumors from developers with Wii U dev kits about the power of the system. Most of the talk seems to be on the side of the system being at least as powerful as the current generation of consoles. We’ll officially find out more about the system when E3 rolls around and Nintendo officially shows off the system again. Until then we have to take the words of people around the games industry.
Darksiders II, from Vigil Games, has been confirmed to be a Wii U launch title. The game will be hitting the Xbox 360 and the PS3 in June, but will be out on day one when Nintendo’s new console launches. They’ve had some time to work with the new system to get the game up and running. The game’s Director, Marvin Donald had this to say about it:
“So far the hardware’s been on par with what we have with the current generation, so, based on what I understand, the resolution, textures, polygon counts and all that stuff, we’re not going to being doing anything to up-rez the game, but we’ll take advantage of the controller for sure.”
That leads me to believe that the system will easily be able to keep up with the 360 and the PS3. I think that would be a given as Nintendo doesn’t want to fall even farther behind in the console race than many people already perceive them to be. Not all of the information we’re getting comes directly from developers. Some of it comes from industry analysts who have been talking with game makers. Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia thinks that the system might actually be more powerful than current systems:
“Some of the developers we spoke to indicated to us that the console will have 50% more processing power compared to the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. This is yet to be confirmed by Nintendo.”
Again, that information isn’t as reliable as getting the information straight from the people who are actually working with the machine. That would obviously be the best source of information, but when new consoles are coming out you take little tidbits of information wherever you can. Another source of information, speaking anonymously to Develop Online said that the system could achieve “roughly twice the processing and graphical potential of Microsoft’s current generation machine.” Again, pretty good when you think about the traditional jumps in hardware from one generation to the next. The difference this time being that Nintendo is making the leap from only slightly better than the GameCube to twice as powerful as the Xbox 360, which is quite a jump in terms of power.
Not everyone, though, is as hyped about the new machine. Two anonymous sources spoke to Games Industry.biz today and talked about the system being less powerful than the current generation of consoles. One of the sources said:
“No, it’s not up to the same level as the PS3 or the 360. The graphics are just not as powerful.”
Not something that Nintendo fans really want to hear is it? Much of the evidence we have supports claims that the system will be equal to or better than the 360. IGN went so far as to demo what they think the system could do based on rumored hardware specifications. Granted that doesn’t mean much as they were making the best guess they could with second hand information that was only speaking generally about the system.
Another dev, speaking to Games Industry.biz went on the elaborate on what his colleague was saying:
“Yeah, that’s true. It doesn’t produce graphics as well as the PS3 or the 360. There aren’t as many shaders, it’s not as capable. Sure, some things are better, mostly as a result of it being a more modern design. But overall the Wii U just can’t quite keep up.”
So, which is it? Is the Wii U as power, more powerful or less powerful than the current generation of consoles? My money is on equal or better. How much better is yet to be decided, but it doesn’t make much sense to me for Nintendo to release a system that doesn’t even rival the competitors that, at that point, would be a generation behind them. The Wii was a bit of a fluke, but if Nintendo’s handheld systems can prove anything it’s that you don’t have to be the most powerful system on the block. You just have to have the best library of games. The Wii U’s launch lineup is shaping up to be pretty good, if not amazing, should the rumors be true.
Until then, we’ll just have to wait until E3 rolls around and continue to build on the information that is slowly trickling out from people around the video game business. We won’t know for sure until June when the Wii U gets it’s first real blowout in terms of information. For now it’s just fun to speculate.