We saw at the weekend that the Wii U is second only to the Apple iPad in the cravings of most children and teenagers. However is this just a brief honeymoon period, since the new console has just been released days ago and in the run-up to the Christmas period? Will it reach anywhere near the levels of success of its predecessor? Nolan K. Bushnell, Atari founder and Pong creator, thinks not. In an interview with the New York Times he explains “I actually am baffled by it” and concludes “I don’t think it’s going to be a big success.”
However Mr Bushnell doesn’t just have reservations about the new Wii U, he thinks that any newly-released game system like those expected from Sony and Microsoft next year will need to be something very special indeed to make an impact. Bushnell suggests that current game systems are already “delivering remarkable graphics” and only hardcore gamers will pay up for the improvements on offer by a new generation. From now on “things will continue to sputter along, but I really don’t think they’ll be of major import ever again,” he says. “It feels like the end of an era to me.”
Nintendo has survived a long time and witnessed many other companies crash out of the games hardware industry; like Sega, Atari and 3DO. While the big N might not set buyer’s minds alight with the Wii U, it is sitting upon a huge pile of cash from the Wii’s success and will be able to keep going for another generation, you would think.
The games industry is in particular turmoil right now with the huge popularity of smartphones and tablets as casual gaming devices; these devices are getting more powerful and better for gaming all the time. Would Nintendo be better as a game-making company without the own-brand hardware? No one at Nintendo seems to think so; Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo US, says that Mario on an iPhone will never happen.
UPDATE: Reports say that the Wii U is sold out ahead of its launch here in the UK.