When the next generation of video game consoles finally arrives, it will be the Nintendo Wii U leading the charge. The system and its unique tablet controller(s) should have a major presence at E3 2012, though Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Amie promises that Wii U information will be slowly revealed throughout the year.
Nintendo has been characteristically cagey about just how powerful the Wii U will ultimately be, but an unnamed "studio source" claims that the forthcoming system will be twice as powerful as the Xbox 360.
Predictably, that leaves Wii U at the tail end of the next generation hardware race, at least where raw processing power is concerned. If the rumors are to be believed, Sony's PlayStation 4 will be the most powerful of the next round of consoles, followed by Microsoft's Xbox 720, which is rumored to be six times more powerful than the Xbox 360. This more or less falls in line with Shigeru Miyamoto's assertion that the Wii U might not dramatically outperform current consoles, and (hopefully) dispels the rumor that Wii U is no more powerful than Xbox 360.
Despite Nintendo's insistence that Wii U will be attractive to third-parties, Analyst Michael Pachter remains skeptical, apparently with good reason. The unnamed source who approached Develop with the Wii U power figure further claims that the system is less capable than Nintendo originally promised. As a result, development of Wii U games is not running as smoothly as everyone would like.
“I've heard [a project designer] complain it's underpowered compared to what Nintendo announced, resulting in people having to de-scale their plans.”
Still, don't expect that to put a damper on Nintendo's spirits. If the last year has shown anything, it's that gamers would be unwise to count Nintendo out simply on the basis of hardware power. After all, the 3DS can't begin to match the raw power of Sony's Vita, but that hasn't stopped the glasses-free handheld from dominating the Japanese market. 3DS can boast the three best selling games of 2011 in Japan, while Vita sales have plummeted, reaching a new low of 18,361 units sold for the week ending January 22nd.
Furthermore, don't overlook the importance of being the first console out of the gate. Sure, the Wii U will be less powerful than its competitors. Honestly, did anyone expect otherwise? But with Sony confirming that no PS4 announcement will be made at E3 2012, and current estimates for Xbox 720's release hovering around October/November of 2013, Nintendo might just have the next gen market all to itself for a full year, possibly a little longer. During that year, Wii U will be the most powerful system available. That may be all the time it takes for Nintendo to sew up the console market, exactly as it has done with the handheld market.
Do you believe that Wii U is only twice as powerful as the Xbox 360, and if so, will that be enough to compete once PS4 and Xbox 720 come to market? How big an advantage is Wii U's 2012 launch going to be for Nintendo?
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