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Atari veteran Bushnell thinks the Wii U will pong

by Mark Tyson on 26 November 2012, 12:00

Tags: Nintendo (TYO:7974), Atari (EPA:ATA), PC

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We saw at the weekend that the Wii U is second only to the Apple iPad in the cravings of most children and teenagers. However is this just a brief honeymoon period, since the new console has just been released days ago and in the run-up to the Christmas period? Will it reach anywhere near the levels of success of its predecessor? Nolan K. Bushnell, Atari founder and Pong creator, thinks not. In an interview with the New York Times he explains “I actually am baffled by it” and concludes “I don’t think it’s going to be a big success.”

However Mr Bushnell doesn’t just have reservations about the new Wii U, he thinks that any newly-released game system like those expected from Sony and Microsoft next year will need to be something very special indeed to make an impact. Bushnell suggests that current game systems are already “delivering remarkable graphics” and only hardcore gamers will pay up for the improvements on offer by a new generation. From now on “things will continue to sputter along, but I really don’t think they’ll be of major import ever again,” he says. “It feels like the end of an era to me.”

Nintendo has survived a long time and witnessed many other companies crash out of the games hardware industry; like Sega, Atari and 3DO. While the big N might not set buyer’s minds alight with the Wii U, it is sitting upon a huge pile of cash from the Wii’s success and will be able to keep going for another generation, you would think.

The games industry is in particular turmoil right now with the huge popularity of smartphones and tablets as casual gaming devices; these devices are getting more powerful and better for gaming all the time. Would Nintendo be better as a game-making company without the own-brand hardware? No one at Nintendo seems to think so; Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo US, says that Mario on an iPhone will never happen.

UPDATE: Reports say that the Wii U is sold out ahead of its launch here in the UK.

HEXUS Forums :: 22 Comments

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Think he is right on the money and Nintendo will go the way Sega did…
Problem is that it looks like it will still be sold out on launch in many territories.

And people have loads of Wii accessories they can use with it.

And people want HD now from their console, and the Wii U will provide that. Also the ability to game whilst being with your other half who is watching some godawful soap/talent show/sports/car programme (delete as applicable) will appeal to a lot of people.

I'll wait and see, but I expect with a few decent titles launching in the first year, a lot of people will crack and buy it eventually. But it probably won't be a Wii-like launch.
I actually quite like the Wii U and think the focus needs to return to gameplay.

Yes, it looks a little cheesy but:

- CPU/Graphics superior to Xbox 360 and programming paradigm is fairly simple
- A comparatively plentiful 1GB RAM dedicated to games (less focus on optimisation more on gameplay)
- Normal Pro Controller, GamePad, Numchuck, Wii Mote (plentiful array of accessories for ALL gamer types and gameplay scenarios)

It's clearly much more of a deal for existing Wii owners and investing into it in the early stages for those with PlayStations and Xboxes may seem risky, however the console has all the potential to be a true gamers' console as much as a party gimic or kid's toy.

What makes Xbox so popular? The Live, the voice chat, social elements, the visuals. The Wii U you can Voice/Video/Type via touch chat in a big community network that has been quite comprehensively thought through.

I'd say just because you see the word Wii doesn't mean it's the same beast at all. If I weren't saving right now I'd release-day pounce this, still tempted to.
Yes, it looks a little cheesy but:

- CPU/Graphics superior to Xbox 360
CPU is inferior unfortunately - roughly equivalent to one of the X360 cores. Devs have already expressed some concern about this, though they are very happy about the RAM :)
CPU is inferior unfortunately - roughly equivalent to one of the X360 cores.

I have not seen anything about the core count. Most I have heard it is a 3GHZ CPU with four threads, which is similar in architecture to the one in the Xbox 360, which runs at 3.2GHZ and has six threads.