Differences between Wii U and next-gen Xbox 720, PS4 won't be 'as drastic' as current generation
It's easy to look at the Nintendo Wii and see the graphical inferiority it has to other current gen consoles like the Xbox 360 or PS3. Gameplay experience aside, the Wii wasn't able to keep up with either consoles' graphical capabilities causing the Wii to be excluded from many multiplatform software that released for the Xbox 360 and PS3.
With the Wii U set to release this year, and next-gen consoles from Sony and Microsoft expected in the near future, many are worrying the same thing might happen with Nintendo's upcoming console - that it will eventually lag behind the Xbox 720 or PS4 and eventually miss out on multiplatform titles once again. It's a legitimate fear, but one that Nintendo president Satoru Iwata is hoping to put to rest.
According to Iwata, the difference between the Wii U and its competitor's upcoming consoles will be less than that between the Wii and the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. While Iwata couldn't go as far as to promise that the WIi U will never be excluded from multiplatform software for eternity, he did assure that the "Wii U will not have such a big difference as the Wii had in comparison to how, on other platforms, developers could expect very different graphic capabilities of generating HD-applicable high-resolution graphics".
"Other companies might launch a next-generation console with more power, but we don’t necessarily think that the difference between the Wii U and such console will be as drastic as what you felt it was between the Wii and the other consoles because there will be fewer and fewer differentiators in graphics," he said during an investor Q&A.
"Naturally some consumers are very sensitive about such a small difference in graphics so that we will make efforts to make the most of the performance of the Wii U to keep up with technological innovations and not to make the system out-of-date soon," he explained. "However, as the structure of the product called the Wii U is as if we are including both a video game console and a handheld device, if we were not careful about how luxurious both of them were, we could end up having to offer the price of the two hardware systems combined, which would not be an acceptable price for the consumers. We had to design it by balancing the performance and the costs."
Iwata went on to explain that, once again, the Wii U offers an innovative experience - similar to that of the Wii - and will change the way people will interact with their television and game system. As opposed to most video game consoles being "parasites" of TV sets, Iwata boasted about the Wii U's GamePad screen, effectively making it the first console free from television sets.
"As you can experience deeper entertainment with both the Wii U GamePad and the TV screen, we would like to enrich it but, at the same time, we hope to furnish it with games you can enjoy only with the Wii U GamePad."
"Not only by competing with other platforms only in regard to the machines’ spec. figures but proposing various ways of using the Wii U, we would like to create a future so even family members who have never touched any video game systems will consider the Wii U something that is convenient to use so that we can maintain its competitiveness for a long time," he concluded.
As I said before, it's not the graphics that make the game; it's the experience. If the Wii U can offer the same unique experiences - gaming, entertainment, etc - as the Wii did when it first released, then there is no reason it shouldn't sell well. That is if it is priced reasonably, which Iwata has already assured it will be. The general consensus seems to indicate that a $300 price point would be safe for the Wii U and Iwata has already said Nintendo won't make the same mistake with the Wii U price as they did with the 3DS.
Nintendo still hasn't announced a price for the Wii U nor an exact release date, but latest rumors point towards an announcement coming in during a press conference set for fall 2012.