Nintendo Almost Ditched Second Screen on Wii U Because of Price Concerns

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!

2 thoughts on “Nintendo Almost Ditched Second Screen on Wii U Because of Price Concerns”

  1. http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-vs-wiiu-e3-2012

    This analysis sort of paints a better picture then what you’ve heard, but it’s still up in the air on how powerful the Wii U is in comparison to the 360/PS3. Arkham City, however, does show a number of graphical advantages over the PS3/360 versions, but the framerate isn’t rock solid. So maybe that shows that the Wii U is better graphically. One thing that the article does point out, however, is that first-party titles’ priority is to have rock solid framerate. They’ve always been like this even for their Wii titles. They want to push perfect framerates, even going on to 60 fps and sacrificing the graphical quality of the title. The only Nintendo developed title which did have some minor slowdown is Skyward Sword, but that doesn’t matter since that game really pushes out what the Wii can do.

    My theory is that they have to make it more powerful so that it can stream content to the Wii U GamePad seamlessly, but I think the streaming aspect is more attached to the IBM CPU rather than the AMD GPU. It’s how good the latter is which will determine the graphical capabilities.

    1. That’s an interesting article Ahmed, and could explain a few of the Wii U’s shortcomings in terms of having to process multiple images simultaneously. I was rather shocked to hear IGN say that it was very clear this was the worst looking version of Arkham City they’ve seen yet, but that perhaps it wasn’t optimized just yet. So when I heard that, and then read a few more hands on impressions and the same things started getting repeated over and over again, about muddied textures and less details and missing objects in the environment it sort of make me question where Nintendo cut corners in oder to save money. I even did a funny video on YouTube to talk about this. The whole point is to get viewers onboard so I hope it worked.

      We know Nintendo has to cut something from the Wii U in order to get the price down, I just wish we knew what the price was so we could get a better idea of how much money they need to save. Typically Nintendo likes to make $50 or more by selling hardware so ob if the console comes in at $250, obviously they cut major corners. If it retails for $400, than that changes thing. Either way, it’ll be very interesting to get that price and see how software progresses.

Leave a Reply