They did it with the Wii and now Nintendo is once again looking to change the way users play video games. After weeks of speculation, the Japanese video game company Nintendo has just unveiled the Wii U, the gaming giant’s next-generation console, at Nintendo’s E3 press conference in Los Angeles.
“Welcome to the world of Wii U,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo North America. “It’s a system we will all enjoy together but also one that’s tailor made for you.” The console takes the Japanese company’s revolutionary idea of using a motion sensitive controller to the next level.
The Wii U, which will go on sale between April and December of 2012, features HD graphics and a 6.2 inch touch-screen controller with two analogue sticks, a microphone, accelerometer and an inward facing camera. The main feature of console is the way the touch-screen controller interacts with a TV screen.
You can stop playing a game on your home TV, and without any problems switch to the controller’s screen and continue playing. The Wii U is also compatible with the original Wii, which means that you can use the Wii remote together with the new controller. For example, a demo shown featured a golf game where your ball was pictured on the touch-screen placed on the floor and you can swing your Wii remote to hit the ball from the touch-screen onto your TV.
Another capacity of the Wii U is it’s full internet connectivity, including a browser that can be transmitted to screen or used on the controller independently. The controller gives gamers opportunities to make video calls, use motion controls, microphone, camera, and even the ability to share information from the controller itself.
Nintendo Global President Satoru Iwata told the audience that “Nintendo’s aim with its new console is to make a system that will appeal to both hardcore and casual gamers”. Iwata also stated: “The goal of innovation is to serve every player — then though each brings to video games an individual appetite, a personal passion and a distinct gaming history”.
The Wii was a game-changer in the industry when it launched in 2006 – its motion control system proved wildly popular among families and casual players. Nintendo has sold 86 million units since it hit stores, but sales have been slumping over the last couple of years. The company’s two biggest rivals – Sony and Microsoft – have made their own bid for the lucrative casual gaming market, releasing similar camera systems for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Sony began selling its PlayStation 3 home console in November, 2006, while Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console became available in November, 2005. Both consoles have sold steadily, and neither hardware maker has revealed immediate plans for new systems.
Now, as those systems offer both motion-control and HD-graphics, Nintendo is fighting to maintain its grip on the market it so successfully tapped. With the new system, it’s also trying to bridge the gap between casual and pro players: while the Wii U’s controller can be used to make voice calls, take pictures and run old Nintendo games, it also features an array of buttons, which will appeal to players who like first-person shooters and brawlers.
“Wii games did have the advantage of having easy-to-use controls, but the graphics lagged behind and it didn’t have a good online multiplayer system,” said Peer Schneider, publisher of IGN Entertainment. “Now it’s pulling forward on the graphics. It seems like they’re trying to appeal to everyone.” Because casual consumers aren’t willing to pay as much as core gamers for consoles, pricing will be an important factor in determining its success, Mr. Schneider added.
There is a possibility that it will be the best console ever. Or it may turn out to be a complete cul-de-sac. But one thing is for sure: it won’t be just another generic games console. The price of the Wii U has not yet been announced and the release date is slated for late next year. [via Mashable and Guardian (UK)]