Nintendo’s Next-Gen Console May Be Similar to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 – Analyst

Nintendo May Not Offer a Breakthrough Performance with Next-Gen System Again

by Anton Shilov
12/14/2010 | 10:08 PM



For many years now Nintendo has been criticized about low computing performance of its consoles, something that does not allow game developers to make equally looking games for Wii and its competitors, which have much higher performance. According to an industry analyst, Nintendo may not use top-notch technologies even with the next-generation system, which puts the successor of Wii into the same performance category as PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

“I think that their next console will be on par technologically with the current PS3 and Xbox 360, and don't expect them to advance technology at all with their next offering. They will undoubtedly advance game play, and are likely to further innovate there, but I don't think that the classic term "generation" can be applied to that, if there aren't more pixels and a faster frame rate offered up,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, in an interview with Industry Gamers web-site.

The problem with such approach is quite trivial: in order to attract gamers to a new platform, it has to offer something never seen before. Nintendo Wii offered unprecedented motion-sensing controller, but now competing Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 also have motion sensor and motion-sensing controller, respectively, in addition to high-definition graphics and audio. Therefore, hypothetical Wii HD (or Wii 2) would not offer anything new to the end-user as PS3 and X360 already offer a portfolio of high-definition games, whereas the Wii HD would not have it at launch.

“Both of the competitive consoles have deep libraries of content available in HD, while the Wii 2 will have only a catalog of standard definition content. I don't see the third party publishers embracing the Wii 2 unless the technology is similar to the 360 or PS3, making ports inexpensive. Therefore, I can only conclude that the Wii 2 will not be "next" generation, and that Nintendo will have a lot of catching up to do,” said Mr. Pachter.

Nintendo itself claims that just adding high-definition graphics to Wii is not an option and that the next-gen console should have something else.

“The fundamental issue in the logic flow is that […] ‘gosh it is such an opportunity to take HD capability and link it with the Wii’. […] That is not the way we at Nintendo do things. The way we at Nintendo do things is, you know, when we will move to a new generation, it is because there are some fundamental things the [current] console cannot do. What that says is that simply the addition of HD capability will not be the next step for us. There will be more to it. There will be additional capability. There will be additional elements, and, given that, it is far into the future,” said Reggie Fils-Aime in an interview.

Nintendo Wii hardware is only slightly more powerful than that inside PS2 and the original Xbox. It is very likely that the company spent loads of time optimizing the costs of its hardware instead of boosting its performance. As a result, it is very likely that internally the firm has been working on something more powerful than Wii. Theoretically, this could be so-called Wii HD, but considering that fundamental technology development for Wii was finished around 2004 at the latest, the company has already had six years to develop something completely new, not just an update to Wii. The big question is when does Nintendo plan to update its console? If the company decides to launch the successor along with Microsoft’s and Sony’s next-gen systems, then it will need to offer something better than current-generation devices. If Nintendo’s next-gen is due in 2011, then it may offer something slightly better than the latest-generation systems with elements that actually attract gamers.