It’s hard to think we are here, in 2012, seven years after the launch of the Xbox 360, and almost six years after the Wii and PS3. The time has come. The future of console gaming is upon us and Nintendo are the ones laying down the first march in the Next-Gen console war.They’ve, of course, only shown us a very small, very slim, vertical slice of what we can expect. The WiiU was announced 11 months ago, and since then has almost completely faded into nothing. Aside from PAX Prime and CES, no one seems to have gotten any hands on time with Nintendo’s next console. If it is launching this year as Nintendo planned out at last year’s E3, what does that mean for the system? Nintendo has always been great at keeping secrets, but zero-info and zero-presence is a little worrisome for a new console. Plus, rumors have not been too kind, theorizing the system as a weaker counterpart to the PS3 and Xbox 360.
Now, I’m not too worried about the no-show, because that could just be Nintendo being Nintendo, holding everything close to their chest, as per-usual. These rumors, however, are much more disconcerting.
Is the world ready for Nintendo to throw out another underwhelming, un-modern console for five to six more years? Can gamers handle that? Can Nintendo handle it if gamers can’t? I know this is just my opinion, but I don’t think I’m ready to double-down on another console that won’t be as good as Sony or Microsoft’s next foray into couch-play games.
Now let me give you this, I don’t know a damn thing about building a console, nor do I necessarily believe these rumors are true, but I am facing them as a strong possibility, given what Nintendo has done in the past.
Look at it this way: the Wii was an underpowered console that could sell for less than half of what the PS3 launched at, and still make a profit. This, honestly, was a brilliant move on Nintendo’s part. They caught lightning in a bottle. They did something vastly different, and it made people who didn’t play games, play games. I think that is something to be proud of, and something that has overall made the industry better as a whole (overlooking the unfortunate “shovel-ware” side effect).
Question is, can they do that twice? Are we looking at a situation where Nintendo now has an HD system, that is barely catching up to PS3 and 360, a year or two before their next iterations come out? The WiiU pops out, and in two years you’re in another Wii situation, where developers have given up on making good games, there is shovel-ware galore, and Nintendo’s once-a-year game is the only reason to hold on to the system. The difference is, now Sony and Microsoft our pumping out their new consoles, with games by developers who had plenty of time to master their previous iterations, and are pumping out AAA titles on launch day. Also, these new consoles blow the WiiU out of the water. At that point, a large and frustrated majority of gamers may abandon ship. This is all complete speculation, of course, but a similar situation happened with the Dreamcast.
I, as a once Nintendo-fanboy, just don’t want to see the company crash and burn. I am still not ready to dive into a new console if it isn’t even as good as the two other ones sitting next to my Wii. That’s the bottom-line, and although there is a public out there that doesn’t care as much as I do, and that doesn’t know as much as I do, they may not be able to catch lightning twice.
Regardless, we won’t know much more until we see the WiiU again at E3 2012 in a month. Also, whatever happens, it won’t change the hold Nintendo seems to have on the handheld market, which has always been strong. I just wonder if that is enough to keep them afloat. We’ll have to wait and find out.