Founder of Atari Not Impressed with Nintendo Wii U, Sees End of Console Era

Nolan Bushnell “Baffled by” Nintendo Wii U

by Anton Shilov
11/26/2012 | 11:13 PM

While Nintendo has problems with fulfilling demand towards its Wii U video game console, some game developers believe that the system will not be popular either because of weak specifications, or due to different reasons. In fact, Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari and one of the first video games businessman, believes that the era of consoles is near.


“I actually am baffled by it. I do not think it is going to be a big success. These things will continue to sputter along, but I really don’t think they’ll be of major import ever again. It feels like the end of an era to me,” said Nolan K. Bushnell in an interview with the New York Times.

Modern smartphones and tablets let users play video games that look and feel similarly to titles designed for lower-cost game consoles, such as Nintendo Wii. As a result the appeal of the consoles in general is getting lower. Moreover, there are cloud video game streaming services that has potential to enable high-definition gaming on all possible devices, eliminating the need for costly hardware, such as Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U or Sony PlayStation 3.

Many market observers now believe that the end of the console era is getting near, especially considering the fact that people nowadays prefer mobile devices to non-portable consoles. As a result, more and more challenges will arrive for Nintendo and its rivals, Microsoft and Sony.

Clearly, there is a market of high-end games that are bought by hardcore gamers in low quantities. Those people will continue to enjoy sophisticated titles not only on consoles, but also on personal computers. At the same time, the mainstream video game market may move on to mobile platforms.

“They were very much more interested in the immediacy of the mobile experience. I am looking at the $60 game the way I am a big-budget Hollywood movie. Yeah, I am buying three or four a year – Call of Duty, Uncharted – but for the equivalent of television, I am going to mobile platforms and free-to-play,” Mitch Lasky, a veteran industry executive and now a venture capitalist at Benchmark Capital.

That said, Nintendo will now need to concentrate on high-quality games for Wii U, if it wants the platform to be popular among core gamers, which may be a challenge as the console does not seem to be too powerful to handle advanced games. Last week a developer of Metro 2033: Last Light title said that the Wii U had very slow microprocessor, which is why 4A Games had to cancel development of the game for Wii.