The Telegraph has a very good interview up with Satoru Iwata, which you should certainly read. The highlight comes when Iwata-san says the following:
“Sometime during that final discussion we almost gave up on the idea of the additional screen. This was due to our concern over the expected high cost, it may not have been feasible to create this and sell it at a reasonable price point for the consumers.”
That’s interesting because obviously the company decided to stick to their original plan and kept the second screen in. So this ultimately begs the question, how was the company able to keep costs low? We already know one way, by including a single-touch screen instead of a multi-touch screen like what’s featured on the iPhone. The other way, which is pure speculation at this point in time, is by keeping the technology within the Wii U as low-tech as possible. Again, this is purely substantial evidence, but it does have some weight behind it in light of the recent hands-on impressions with several Wii U launch titles. The problem is we have no way of knowing how long these titles have been in development. Pikmin 3, for example features very limited environmental objects and interactions, but it was originally designed as a Wii game, so we sort of expect it to look like one albeit in HD. The next culprit is Arkham City, which is said to have low-res textures, less environmental details as those featured in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version of the game. The other games shown off at E3 were either mini-game compilations like Nintendo Land, which focused more on the Wii U’s GamePad than on sheer graphical prowess, or weren’t all that visually impressive to begin with. Nintendo’s failure to announce support for GTA V, Resident Evil 6, and others don’t make us feel any better. So could it be that Nintendo has purposely cut some of the power behind the Wii U in order to save customers some cash? What do you think?
Another question we need to ask is what exactly is a “reasonable price point?” Nintendo said a lot of similar things when the 3DS was gearing up for release, and that system originally cost $250. Personally I think the sweet spot for the Wii U, based on everything I’ve seen and heard, is between $300 and $350. Anything lower than that is great, but will certainly lead to further speculation that the system is indeed underpowered.
At this point in time we should be very clear that we have no way of knowing either way if the Wii U is less powerful than the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360. We know Nintendo clearly had to cut some corners somewhere if they plan to release their system at a low price and have the hardware profitable from the get-go. I’m kind of curious to hear what you all think. Don’t leave me hanging!