I think it almost cliche to talk about how jaded the gaming community has become in recent years. We are constantly seeking the best graphics and the next big thing; while making it harder and harder for the indie developer or new idea find its niche. That’ not to say that those games are not made or do not find success, but the fact remains that the indie space is getting harder and harder to break out of. Sony and Microsoft are constantly trying to push the graphic envelope and in doing so continue to drive the cost of development up; passing it along to developers and consumers.
The common argument is that Nintendo took themselves out of this equation with the launch of the Wii. They stopped focusing on the graphics and focused more on game-play experiences cost effectiveness. Due to the innovative design choice, ease of use, and a hell of a marketing campaign the Wii found incredible amount of success. Wii Sports, Super Mario Galaxy, and Skyward Sword propelled the system forward in ways that were completely unexpected prior to the system’s launch.
It seems that Nintendo has found themselves on the precipice of something similar again with the launch of the Wii U. With Sony’s “Orbis”and Microsoft’s “Durango” looming out on the horizon, the Wii U is set to launch this holiday ahead of the competition. Yet, there are now rumors that the Wii U will still not be as powerful as the current generation of systems. This, of course, caused quite a stir and has led some to already start comparing the Wii U to the Dreamcast.
Logically, this all makes sense when one looks at Nintendo’s strategy. They are focusing on the touchpad controller and all that it can bring to the industry; and that’s going to cost them. Logically, the graphics card/chip would be the first thing that Nintendo would cut back on, so there is something to be said about these new rumors. The question is, does it matter?
Seriously, has it come become about graphics? Obviously game design matters, but can it be enough? Nintendo’s track record with their first party titles is fantastic, but will the gameplay be enough to propel the success of a system; or even more frightening; will all the soccer moms gather and give Nintendo the number one spot all over again?