So Nintendo has released the Wii U and its main feature is a touch screen in the controller. It is a great idea however I feel it is a generation too early. In this short blog I will explain why I think it is too early and how it will eventually become an important part of gaming.
First I feel Nintendo have jumped the gun with releasing a touch screen in a controller. I feel touch screens in controllers have an important place in gaming but just not yet. The reason is, is because making these controllers portable is an expensive proposition but yet a necessity for this concept. In its simplest form, what Nintendo has done is essentially port the DS idea to the home console. I am not saying this is a bad idea but an idea that doesn’t fully work with home consoles. What I think these “tablet” controllers need to be is extremely portable. The home console could blend handheld and home console market into one console. This control scheme fits much better if you could stream your home games on the go which brings up its problems right now. Firstly the rumoured price of the Wii U gamepad is around $150. That is very expensive and, now imagine, what would happen if you made it more portable. The price would shoot straight up. Which is why I think this concept is too premature.
Why does it have to be portable? Having a screen in the controller is great but only great if you can take it outside the house. Off Screen play seems irreverent if the TV Is right in front of you. In America in 2009 the average amount of TVs per household was 2.8 (Television Audience Report) in the UK it is around 3 (Uswitch) which makes off screen play fairly useless (which is the big sell for touch screen controllers) except for local multiplayer which (despite how I want it to return to its former glory) has been shafted in favour of online multiplayer. I am not having a go at the Wii U but the feature is best suited for on the go gaming the home gaming. A screen just used for menus and inventory is a complete waste of money as there is little wrong with what goes on now.
So when? I say wait another generation. Cost would come down to make it a viable proposition and there will be a greater availability to Wi-Fi out and about with greater network speeds. The big question is who will make this happen. Well Nintendo are already setting the ground work but I feel it will be Sony who will actually make this happen. Nintendo will not risk destroying their handheld market. The DS did very well and the 3DS (despite a slow start) is doing very well. They will eventually move to a combined home and handheld system but only as a last resort/ a reaction to someone else. I doubt Microsoft will as they will try and push their window tablets and have multiple tablets connect with their systems. Which kind of leaves Sony. The PSP did well but it didn’t dominate and the PSV isn’t doing so well at this early stage. They have the least to loose with such a manoeuvre and they have shown they can do it already despite their incompetence to push the feature (look at my previous user blog, here, to understand what I mean).
I would like to know what people think (please keep it sensible). I know these are my opinions and my opinions will not (and in a way shouldn’t) suit everyone else’s opinions.