Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Quickly brushing away the shine of the Nintendo Wii U

The following rant stemmed from an e-mail conversation between myself and a few friends. While my initial reaction towards the unveiling of the new Wii U was filled with excitement and "Oooos" and "Aaaaaas", it was a blinding excitement that I quickly wiped away after I had a few moments to really think about a few things. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts. 

While my first reaction towards the Wii U and the controller was "Oh, that looks awesome", I've had some time to think about it and now I'm thinking, "Why the f!ck can't I just use a 3DS as a controller?! So far, with the exception of two shoulder buttons, they sound pretty damn similar!"

Yeah, yeah - I'm certain that there are some tech-spec differences. But still - I'm certain Nintendo can stop jerking us around and make something simple for once.

"Here's a console, and it's up to date with current tech. And here's the controller. No, ALL of the controller. We didn't strip the damn thing down and plan to sell you the rest of it over the next few years. It's all there."

I mean honestly, if you ever sat down and figured the real cost of controller for the Wii, you'd probably crap yourself. I've discussed this before, but just in case you missed it:

At first, it was just the Wiimote, chuck, and classic controller. For all three, it would cost you $80. Already more expensive than a controller for both the PS3 and the Xbox 360.

Then they introduced the Wiimotion Plus, giving the true 1:1 response we should have gotten from DAY ONE!. Anyway, they introduced it, told us that future Wii games would need it (or best be experienced it), and charged us an extra $20. So now we were up to $100 for one controller set; a tad ridiculous.

Yes, eventually the Wiimote and Wiimotion were integrated into one controller, but it took them...what...almost a year and a half to do it? But that still leaves us at $80 for one controller set.

And I'm not going to even go into the other accessories for the Wii, such as the Balance Board, Zapper, and the various amounts of shitty snap-on peripherals that everyone and their creepy uncle made. A Wiimote "football attachment" to create the most realistic football experience ever? Or the "bowling ball attachment" to create the sensation of actually bowling? WTF?

Now with the unveiling of the Wii U - just the controller mind you - I'm already thinking about how much the damn thing is going to cost. Yes, I'm not going to deny that the tech video had me in all sorts of "Ooooos" and "Aaahhhhs", but it's already losing it's glitter. I've taken off the shades, and I can see the reality of what it is, and what it may become.

My thoughts - or predictions, if you will: at first it'll be cool, just as the Wii was. Granted, it'll introduce an entirely new way to play. And hell, I'll probably get wrapped up in all the renewed excitement and buy it myself.

But over time, after the glow fades, people are going to discover the true cost of this thing. Not the console and controller package, but the cost of all the accessories and extra controllers. I've heard and read people call it "like an iPad". How much does an iPad cost? About $400 bucks? So what's the controller going to cost? $100? $150 *ulp* $200 each? Sounds llike a possibility. And that's where it's going to hit people.

So what could save this thing from completely sucking? If a lot of the promises made at E3 today come true. And I don't mean just all the tech demos and concept snippets Nintendo put together to show what it "might" be able to do. I am also referring to the 3rd party developers, and the support they said they want to throw at the system.

Perhaps I still have a bitter taste in my mouth after the Wii, and the overall poor quality of games and support from Nintendo towards hardcore gamers and longtime fans. Yes, there were a few gems floating in that huge pool of casual gaming bullshit. But they were so far and few, I tend to forgot about my Wii, except for when I watch Netflix. Nintendo said that the Wii U" stands for both the casual gamer and the hardcore - a system for everyone.

I hope so. Because the concepts I saw today are in fact very cool. I'd just hate to see them squandered.

Man, I hope I wasn't too harsh...


(video courtesy of IGN)


  1. you're certainly entitled to your opinion on the matter since you vote with your dollar. A few questions. How many 3DS's do yhou own to cause you to be outraged about it? What conceivable logic are you employing for your price point guesses? Your iPad cost is wrong. Try to think about the actual tech involved.

    I'm theorizing (that's an educated guess) that Nintendo will be able to keep the prices well under $100. I'm hoping for $70. Add to that all current Wii peripherals will be compatible, and likely not every player will need the screen-mote. But I can do that because I know technology well enough to understand how most of this will work.

  2. "Outraged" is a bit more than how I would describe my feelings towards the matter. More like simply annoyed, with aggressive undertones.

    Anyway, I'm not going to deny that a 3DS is on my "to-buy" list; but I have spent enough time with it to know what it's capable of doing. Why haven't I bought one yet? Because the list of launch titles was disappointing, the battery life is very short - especially by Nintendo handheld standards - and I'm fairly certain we'll all hear the annoucement for the new 3DS version 2.0 next year with all the refinements of features early adopters will or have already complained about. Anyway...

    As for the tech; yes, I did think about it. And a lot of it is already there in the 3DS. And the 3DS goes for.....$250 clams. So that, coupled with information from those who have already spent time with the Wii U controller and general industry speculation (not those who troll, but actual reporters), it sounds like the controller is going to be at least $100 with concerns that it might be even more.

    But hell, if Nintendo managed to keep it on the cheap, that would be very impressive considering what all the features shown.

  3. If you glean a couple very important things from their presentation you'll see that what they are doing is relatively simple.
    1) The controller screen will not be HD
    2) The controllers are not meant to be portable gaming units
    3) (for right now) The controller is not multi-touch.

    What can someone in the technology field learn from those points?
    1) The price of the screen is entirely dependent upon the quality of screen Nintendo uses. Since the screen is 6.2" and NOT HD it is a low-density, cheap screen. OLED/SUPEROLED or LED backlit LCD displays would provide superior battery life, and would be relatively expensive, but at that low of a pixel density, they might be able to have steep discounts on manufacturing. Otherwise standard TFT displays would work just fine, and be incredibly cheap. Judging from the videos they're using a simple TFT display, which minimized costs (for now at least)
    2) The controllers will have no processing power beyond what is necessary for them to function. Just simple I/O, communication and video processors on-board. All real processing will be handled by the head unit. It's literally the classic controller with a screen.
    3) The (apparent) lack of multi-touch support means they're using simpler sensing materials. The technology there is rather mature and won't be expensive.

    Consumer costs for specialized products like these are commonly no more than $100. Which means Nintendo will be able to keep the price under $100. But that's just an educated person's opinion.

  4. Funny, (again) you assume that I wouldn't have noticed the most basic of tech laid right out in front of me. You seem very concerned with pointing out your education; stop waving your cock and get back in the conversation. ;)p

    Yes, I am very aware of the simple tech, old tech, mature tech… whatever you want to refer it as. With the TFT-LCD, the demonstrated processing power of the controller (as you listed - I/O, on-board video and communication, relying on the console and streaming, etc.), as well as the thus-far demonstrated single-touch screen, the controller is more like a stripped-down DSi than anything. But we’ve stepped outside just a bit off topic of what my original concern is: what Nintendo is going to charge for this thing.

    Given the age of the tech, it is highly conceivable that Nintendo could probably keep their costs on the cheap. But it’s their cost, not ours. And considering that Nintendo loves their profit margins, it would come as no surprise that the cost of one Wii U controller could easily cost consumer’s over $100. After all, Nintendo does have a history of generous profit margins.

    The Wii initially cost Nintendo about $160 to make, and they charged consumers $200; the DS Lite - $90 to make, $130 to consumers; and the 3DS - $101 to make, $250 charged to consumers. And that’s just a few examples. So who’s to say that we won’t see the same thing happen with the Wii U controller?

    Now I’m not demonizing Nintendo for wanting to make a few bucks; after all, they are a business. But like I originally ranted about, I can’t help but wonder just how much the controller is going to cost us with “all that tech” jammed into it.

    Regardless, neither one of us can claim to “know” what they are going to charge; we can only provide our best educated guess. I pay attention to the industry and the patterns and provide my best educated guess of about $150 per unit. And you pay attention to the tech and the costs, and you provide your best educated guess of under $100. Personally, I hope you are right. I think any price over $100 would be pretty devastating to the success of the Wii U. But until Nintendo steps forward with a starburst sticker strapped to the thing, this is basically just a pissing contest. Problem is, I piss apples and you piss oranges.

    Ouch, that’s a painful visual…

  5. The tech has been around long enough for them to pull a tidy profit by charging $100 each. But now I've found more information. Sounds like the Wii U will only allow one, maybe two of the new controllers to connect to the system.
    "We're considering our options with maybe two screens" -Katsuya Eguchi, kotaku.com interview

    With the ability to only attach one controller to one base it's no longer a peripheral, but a replacement. It implies a couple more things.
    1) The price can be higher since the consumer doesn't need to collect them. Possible corollary: Higher quality parts used since it will need to be more durable.
    2) The functionality of the new controller is drastically reduced since only one person can "play" at a time.

    Kind of short-sighted and disappointing on their part. That might be a deal breaker for me.

    (original post deleted due to typo)