Wii U Not As Powerful As Xbox 360 & PS3 After All?

In what will surely be disturbing news to the diehard Nintendo faithful, Gameindustry spoke with several third party developers under the veil of secrecy who revealed that the system simply isn’t up to par with the PS3 or Xbox 360 in terms of sheer graphical power.

That’s interesting to hear because Gearbox had mentioned earlier that the Wii U was able to do things none of the current systems could do.  Looking back at that comment now, it’s apparent he never mentioned graphics in particular.

So what do you all think?  If it is indeed true that the Wii U isn’t able to match the graphical prowess of the 360 or PS3 at this point in time, just imagine how underpowered it will be once the next-generation Xbox and PlayStation hit.   The disparity between the Wii and the PS3/360 was already quite large, so one would assume it would be around the same or worse next time around.

This year’s E3 should be very telling.  Anyone care to share their thoughts?

9 thoughts on “Wii U Not As Powerful As Xbox 360 & PS3 After All?”

  1. This is pretty bad news. Of course, this means that the Wii U will either miss out on or get poor and insulting ports of games that the other two systems will get, just like the Wii. Yes, first party titles are often amazing but it’d be nice to be able to play something else besides Mario, Zelda, etc… without having to buy a whole other system. There are plenty of awesome and unique games on the PS3 or 360 that are not on the Wii because the hardware can’t handle it, and more often than not I still think many developers see Nintendo as a kiddy’s company to this day and refuse to develop for them even if the systems *can* handle them. The damage done from the N64 era still persists, and it shows.

    I was always assuming that the Wii U will be #3 power-wise of the three next-generation systems (but still above and beyond any of the systems today), but if it’s not even as powerful as its current two rivals… in the words of Bob from ReBoot:

    “This is bad! This is VERY bad!”

  2. If this is true, I think it’s unfortunate, but far from really bad news. I think 1up’s recent piece on it sums up my reaction pretty well: http://www.1up.com/news/wii-u-underwhelming-hardware-doesnt-matter

    I’m sure the hardcore gamer will take issue with this, but if the Wii U tech demos are any indication (especially the Zelda one), the games look far from terrible. And we’re reaching a point where an increase in visual fidelity really can’t cut it alone anymore. People are interested in games for the content and we’re seeing a massive shift in interest in both the style of play and the business model. I’m curious as to how the Wii U will appeal to the smartphone or Zynga gamer crowd.

    But I suppose right now, there’s way too much “he said, she said” going on. Some developers said it’s more powerful, some said it’s about on par, etc. We also have Peter Moore coming out to say it’s “not a transitional platform” either. If I was a betting man, I’d say it’s at least on par with current consoles, but we’ll have to wait until E3 comes to give us the final word. It’ll be an interesting show.

    1. I’m not sure how to react if this is true, but I’m on Tim’s side. It would be a bad move to not give the Wii U graphical capabilities beyond the 360 and PS3, but in the same time I don’t think that this will cause a polarizing reception similar to what happened with the Wii. The differences between the Wii and its competitors became like night and day in 1 year of each console’s life-cycle, and have gotten worse in the stretch towards the end…simply because the Wii remained 480p and didn’t adapt HD. With the Wii U and the next consoles, they’re practically all under the same boat of HD gaming so even if the Wii U’s graphical capabilities aren’t big, it’s still a substantial leap for what the Wii stood for. In a year’s time when the PS4 and Xbox 720 debut, there won’t be any evolution in quality, display technology and resolution tech. 1080p will still be commonplace and 3D gaming may be better, but nothing groundbreaking will pop up anytime soon in terms of resolution. Everyone’s talking about the new 4K display resolution, but I highly doubt that game companies and console will quickly adapt that into their systems as 4K displays aren’t even in the market yet. They may debut sometime next year, but they’ll be very expensive and very early in design. Besides, 90% of the time current games don’t even use full 1080p display. They’re all around the 720p mark and sometimes even sub-HD resolutions which use tricks and upscaling to make them look good. So the logical next step for gaming is that more games jump the bandwagon of true 1080p.

  3. It’s not to say the Wii U won’t have any good games, or that the graphics won’t be nice. I’m just worried that the system will end up being overlooked due to (technically) being inferior to the other two, and as of yet I’m undecided on whether I’ll eventually get one or not. Most likely I will, but not for a while until the price drops a bit and demand for the system goes down. At and for a while after launch time, Wii Us will probably be hard to come by here.

    Here’s hoping there’ll be a Prime-style remake of Super Metroid… Super Metroid Prime, anyone? Nah, probably never going to happen.

  4. How bad this rumour may turn out to be is largely dependent on what kind of jump in visual fidelity we actually see on the next-generation Playstation and Xbox.

    Yes, I know the Wii U will host a number of great games, but my concern is this: the Wii U also flaunted unique game mechanics over graphics, but how many times were Wiimote mechanics really used in a memorable way? The appeal of waggling around a remote wore off quickly for me whereas the awe-inspiring landscapes and fantastic character models in games like Uncharted and Skyrim did not. The Wii’s failure to deliver upon its motion control revolution was the biggest disappointment I’ve felt in gaming for years. If more game’s were like Skyward Sword or Super Mario Galaxy, I wouldn’t have minded the system’s power limitations. It’s going to be a serious issue for me if the Wii U doesn’t offer a whole heck of a lot more games that take advantage of its unique control scheme than the Wii did, especially if it’s underpowered and gets the dumbed-down ports of third party titles. The blue ocean strategy is great, but some times you simply have to compete directly if you want to maintain appeal.

    I don’t know what the next generation will hold, but the gap in graphics really made a difference for Nintendo this generation the deeper in we got and I hope it isn’t going to bite them next generation.

  5. This thing is this guys, Nintendo will always make great Nintendo games, but they also require the hardcore crowd, the ones that stuck with them through the N64 and GCN days. These are the people that expect third party games, and if the machine is incapable of getting the next Call of Duty, then the machine will end up exactly like the Wii. Sure it might sell 500 million units, but to the core gamer it will very quickly become known as “that other console” instead of the go-to console of choice.

    It’s still early, so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. If Nintendo doesn’t match the power of the current generation at least, that’s extremely foolish because the PS3 and 360 have a very hard time creating native 1080p games in the first place, so that would mean the Wii U would be a 720p base, upscaled to 1080p, which will not be acceptable in this day and age.

    Nintendo is taking several cues from Apple, I mean just look at the device, and that could help them explode in sales all over again, or do the exact opposite. This time around I don’t see very much middle ground happening. I think this is either going to be extremely successful or really disappointing.

    Let’s do a very simple test, how many of you guys are actually planning on picking one up right now, based on the 0 knowledge we have on the system?

  6. Quick update for you guys, apparently many developers have chimed in here and they’re all saying the same thing, you can expect PS3/360 visuals, but no better and that the hardware will have a harder time handling physics and A.I. compared to the 360 and PS3. So there you have it, at least we’ll have games on-par what the current-gen offers and not worse, which is what everyone was afraid of.

  7. Well at least it’s on par with current-gen. What I’m baffled about is how come they’re not taking it a step further….at least have the system deliver enough power to easily handle full native 1080p. That alone will give the Wii U a big leap which will make it go toe-to-toe with next-gen consoles. The key here is not to miss out on multiplatform exclusives like Skyrim, Call of Duty just because developers are limited with the porting process.

    I think the reason they’re not packing enough power to the Wii U even though they can theoretically do so is the tablet controller. From what we’ve been shown is that feedback from the console is streamed to the tablet, and I don’t think it has enough power to handle super powerful graphics without issues popping up.

    And to answer your question, Jarrod; yes I’m planning on picking one despite my limited knowledge of the system because I do want to play my favorite Nintendo franchises in HD. :)

  8. Thanks Ahmed :)

    As for the tech, I think a large part of this is thanks to the tablet and prices. If they were to improve upon the modern consoles in any way, shape or form, at least in terms of technology, that would increase the prices quite a lot. After that, you take into account the tablet controller, and BAM you’re at the price ceiling. People keep forgetting that the screen, and technology in the controller itself is going to cost quite a bit of cash to developer, so perhaps this is Nintendo’s way of cutting costs?

    Steven and I talk about this in the next podcast, which should be up shortly.

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