The Wii U's upcoming launch towards the end of this year is a hot topic for industry prognosticators - as video games have grown into a mainstream pastime, so has investing in them. From a sales standpoint, the Nintendo Wii has upended its competition across the globe; but, its lack of third-party support and a waning focus on what many consider to be "hardcore" gaming have fractured the system and the manufacturer from the core of the industry.
It's a reputation that Nintendo will have to repair if the Wii U has aspirations of going toe to toe with Microsoft and Sony - something Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime has been adamant about in the company's recent press conferences.
We came away encouraged in our impressions of the Wii U during E3 last year, and its unique touchscreen capabilities as well as improved graphics will give it a fighting chance out of the gate in 2012. But how will its power, compared to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, stack up when the "Durango" and PS4 are released? How affordable will it be? And will Nintendo's launch date gamble damage the company? Michael Pachter doesn't sound so keen on the whole thing.
Speaking on his "Pach Attack" show over the weekend, the Webush Morgan Securities analyst and budding verb generator asserted that the Wii U's price point could cause Nintendo to "Dreamcast themselves" - a reference to the ill-fated system whose termination punctuated the end of Sega's run as a console maker in 2001. Pachter believes that the system is overdue by several years, and that it won't be cheap enough now to ward off consumers saving up for an Xbox 720 or PlayStation 4.
Check out the full Pach-Attack video below (which also includes the analyst's insights into other industry questions) - followed by the most relevant quotes from Pachter:
“I think that if in fact it’s a lot like an Xbox 360 in terms of graphics, frame rate and control scheme, then it’s probably not going to sell well unless it’s priced a lot cheaper, and I don’t think they’re launching the console at $150."
“So, yeah I think they are about to Dreamcast themselves. I don’t think Wii U is going to be as popular as probably Nintendo thinks it’s going to be."
The cause of the Dreamcast's downfall was a major nail in Sega's coffin as a console maker, but the reasons for its failure are still widely held in debate. Whereas the Dreamcast was believed to be ahead of its time, Nintendo is playing catch-up in a lot of ways with the current generation.
Their larger concern should be that they don't "Wii" themselves, releasing a console with middling processing power and a steep development learning curve that third parties abandon once Microsoft and Sony come calling with their newest tech. Despite Grand Theft Auto V and Ninja Gaiden 3 being confirmed for the system, third party support looks again to be an uphill battle for Nintendo. Nintendo succeeded with the Wii by bringing in a lot of casual gamers; however, these casual gamers may not be as interested in the Wii U - since they may have moved on to upgraded console tech or, on the flip side, might not be interested in another console at all.
In any case, though, we'll have a clearer picture on the Wii U's future in the next few years as Microsoft and Sony start to show their hands and sales figures roll in. How do you think the system will fare against the Xbox 360, PS3, and next-gen consoles? Is Pachter right in being so glum?
The Wii U releases worldwide towards the end of 2012.
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