Douglass C. Perry was the first editor-in-chief of a somewhat popular site called N64.com (that was before the lawyers came and forced his publisher to change the domain to IGN64.com), and, before that, with a whole slew of industry publications, such as the kick-ass Next Gen magazine. He’s easily one of the biggest Nintendo fanboys I know– and by “fanboy” I mean completely professional, level-headed, and perfectly objective– and, thus, his is a perspective I seek out in helping to gain a better understanding of current events (which is why you’ve seen his name pop up time and again in this column, at Airship Travelogues, and in my All-star Roundtable series over at GameXplain).
Not to be outdone is another over-exposed industry figure named Andre Segers. With credits under his belt at GameSpot, IGN, Nintendojo (hey!), GameXplain, and a little place called Nintendo of America, he knows a thing or two about the big N. Combined with his laid-back attitude, infectious sense of humor, and extremely– um– hairy hair, Andre is one of the most formidable voices to consult (and mock behind his back) in the gaming journo world.
Somewhere between the two experts’ back-and-forth (no, neither knew what the other’s answer was), we should find some truth about the future, and Nintendo’s stake in it.
Or, at least, we’ll come across some insight… right?
When will the Wii U release?
Douglass C. Perry:
Great question. Only Nintendo really knows (or is still deciding). I figure we’ll find out at E3 But my guess, based on previous Nintendo console releases, is that if it’s this year, it will be in early November.
Although many are hoping for a summer release, I don’t think we’ll see it until late September at the earliest. Though a November launch is still most likely, as was the case for both the Wii and GameCube. I will say it would be amazing if Nintendo announced at E3 that the Wii U would be available within just a month or two.
What will the Wii U’s launch lineup look like, particularly when compared to the 3DS’s?
As with all these questions, we’ll know by E3 2012. Meanwhile, it’s a speculation game.
The first-party titles are the real question. Shigeru Miyamoto said Pikmin 3 will appear on Wii U, though not on launch day. A new Super Smash Bros. will also be developed, along with, assuredly, some kind of Mario game, Mario Kart, and, hopefully, that awesome-looking Zelda game. But Zelda never launches a system. Then there is the strange Lego City Stories, whatever that is (sarcasm implied).
On the third-party side, games include Aliens: Colonial Marines, some kind of Assassin’s Creed game, Batman: Arkham City, Darksiders II, Killer Freaks from Outer Space, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, and Metro: Last Light.
As for whether it will be like the 3DS launch, an erudite publisher would know, based on many past launches– including the 3DS’s– console launches need at least one, many times two, killer titles. I wish I was a fly on the wall of Miyamoto’s offices, observing all of their plans (a Japanese-reading fly, that is), but I’m not.
I suspect Nintendo learned their lesson with the 3DS and will have a considerably stronger lineup for the Wii U at launch from both first- and third-parties. Since the platform will be at least as powerful as existing consoles, I expect there to be several upgraded ports of current-gen titles (such as the upcoming Darksiders II) as well as at least a handful of unique third-party titles. Ubisoft has historically been a strong supporter of Nintendo’s at launch, and they already showed an early version of their Wii U title Killer Freaks, which would make for an ideal launch title.
As for Nintendo itself, I fully expect them to pack in a multiplayer title that showcases the capabilities of the controller (perhaps using some of the demos shown at last year’s E3), as well as launching with at least one major title (such as a Mario or whatever Retro’s working on), and perhaps a smaller, secondary title, like Wii Sports 2 or a Wave Race sequel.
Will the Wii U be a Dreamcast or an Xbox 360– or neither?
Several factors play into a launch: great software, including a killer hit and good third-party support; a decent price point of about $299, something we can always count on Nintendo to get right; compelling hardware; games that show off the controller’s abilities; and, like with the Wii, a bundled game that seals the deal, like Wii Sports. You don’t need a bundled game, but it worked out so well with the Wii, seems like Nintendo would try it again. Why not a free Wii U Sports bundled in with the console?
Neither. With recent reports of the next Xbox only being 20% more powerful than the Wii U, we very well could have another PS2 on our hands. With at least a year head-start on both competitors and specs close enough to stay competitive, the Wii U could very well become the primary development platform for third-party releases.
Will we see the last DS games release this year, or will that be in ’13?
I’ll guess we’ll see the last ones in ’13, but ’14 and ’15 aren’t out of the question. Reason is, not enough of the 3DS units have been sold and Nintendo keeps selling DS titles, so there is no reason to cut off supplies when the demand, even if it’s waning, is still there. You know Sony keeps selling the PS2 worldwide, right?
I think it’s very likely the DS will continue to be supported through at least 2013, given that the 3DS is backwards-compatible. The install base is so massive for the platform, it’d be silly to ignore it completely, much as the PS2 continued to receive games years after the PS3 released.
Will the 3DS’s sales be untouched by Vita, or will Sony’s handheld make a major impact industry-wide?
That’s a good question. I never thought that the DS and the PSP were really the same exact market. That is to say, while all of my gaming friends had both, the DS was more appealing to a younger female and male sub-market, while the PSP was more of an 18-34-year-old thing. So, see Nintendo trying very hard to maneuver between the casual mobile and tablet market and the hardcore market with the 3DS, wooing gamers with only games Nintendo can really bring.
It’s far too early to say for sure, but I feel like this generation of portables is really just repeating what happened with the PSP and DS: the weaker and cheaper game system (DS) went on to enjoy massive success (even if the PSP still did okay by any other standard). Which is to say, I think the Vita could still sell well, but it’s unlikely to be at any great expense to the 3DS.
Just what the hell will happen to the Wii this year?
The Wii will die a scripted, standard, slow, and painful death, like all good consoles do as they are leapfrogged by a new generation of hardware. A lot of B-development teams will crank out movie-licensed, or just plain licensed, titles, and gamers will slowly stop buying it, if they know what’s good for them. (God, I hope they know what is good for them!)
The Wii will be left to rot a slow death, much as the Nintendo 64 and GameCube did in their final year. Hopefully, and contrary to what I stated earlier, the Wii U will launch earlier rather than later in order to prevent a similar drought in content. Or maybe Nintendo has a few more surprises for the Wii up their sleeve (yeah, right…).
Marc N. Kleinhenz has covered the gaming industry for over a dozen publications, including Gamasutra, IGN, and TotalPlayStation, where he was features editor. You can read some of his non-gaming stuff here.