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Wii U graphics 'not as powerful' as Xbox 360, PS3

We've heard quite a bit about Nintendo's new Wii U console, but for the first time we are hearing rumors that the Wii U will not be as powerful as the Xbox 360 or PS3 in terms of graphics power.

Speaking to GamesIndustry International, two separate industry sources "familiar" with the Wii U's hardware claimed it's not "on the same level" as the current gen of consoles.

"No, it's not up to the same level as the PS3 or the 360," said one of the developers who's been working with the Wii U. "The graphics are just not as powerful."

Another developer shared this same opinion, agreeing, "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," the source added.

Nintendo has made it clear that their primary emphasis with the Wii U has been innovative gameplay and a unique experience - not raw horsepower or graphics.  With that being said, everything we've heard up until now have led us to believe the graphics will at least be "on par" with the current gen consoles.  In some cases, we've heard that the Wii U will be "twice as powerful" as the Xbox 360. 

So in no way am I abandoning my thoughts on the Wii U based on the rumors of some anonymous sources, especially when there are so many well-established industry sources and developers speaking so highly of Nintendo's Wii U.  Recently, Epic VP Mark Rein suggested that the Wii U will "shock us" at E3 this year - what many consider to be one of Nintendo's last remaining chances to open peoples' eyes on the Wii U. 

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford also spoke highly of the new console, saying the Wii U has "so much more to offer" than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Of course, neither of them were really talking about the graphics hardware of the Wii U.  Instead, they were referring to the overall experience of playing a game on the unique tablet controller.  Developers have spoken highly of the added feature which has allowed them to do so much more, in terms of gameplay, with the Wii U and its controller.

While the Wii U may in fact be less powerful than the Xbox 360 and PS3, developers have made it clear that, in terms of gameplay, it has what it takes to compete with the current gen consoles.  As for Nintendo, they've already made it clear they don't wish to compete with this generation, or the next generation, of consoles.

"There are a variety of different ways to show the unique appeal of software. What’s important here is not to narrow down what we can do. Rather, we have to create the dynamic range of appeals that the consumers can appreciate," Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said back in February during a meeting with investors.

Nintendo currently has plans to launch the Wii U in major markets by the end of 2012, but yesterday it was reported that a leaked email from a Japanese retailer revealed a November 18, 2012 release date for the console.  In a crazy turn of events, the same email also showed that America will be getting it a week before Japan - though I don't know if I believe that part.

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Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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