The UK release of Nintendo's Wii U is imminent. This article's aim is to help those still undecided whether to take the plunge for the Nintendo Wii U or stick it out with this current generation, Sony's PS3 and/or the Microsoft Xbox 360 console. It is no secret both Sony and Microsoft are preparing an onslaught, and their next consoles are expected 2013/2014.
Nintendo has for the first time in a long time, afforded themselves a comfortable head start.
It's exactly where Microsoft found themselves when the 360 was launched back in 2005, with Sony following approximately one year later or more (UK released spring 2006). Both PS3 and 360 enjoy a shipped/sold figure of over 70 Million units to date. There's very little between the two in terms of actual numbers sold...but there is a new boy on the block.
Nintendo Wii U
Already available in North America, and soon to arrive on UK shores. This console follows Nintendo's recent pattern of innovation over raw technical power. The Wii U is Nintendo's first HD console and has an impressive innovative screen controller as its main USP (Unique Selling Point), but its launch titles (although plentiful) have polarised opinion, with some saying the launch titles are underwhelming, while others say they are amazing.
The Wii U carries a £300 price tag for the 32GB deluxe model, and there are various deals for the standard 8GB version. The games are a mixed bunch of ports from other consoles and some interesting exclusives such as ZombieU, Mario, and the predictably cute Nintendo Adventure Land available with the deluxe model.
Make no mistake, Nintendo will bring out the big guns very soon with the likes of Zelda, Mariokart, Metroid all very well known and established franchises. The Wii U has currently sold around 400,000 units and is seemingly off to a very good start.
The PS3 experience has been 6 years long, yet the system continues to produce impressive exclusives from Sony's own internal studios. Exclusives Uncharted, Kill Zone, the soon to be released Last of Us, and even indie titles like Journey have helped PS3 stand out. Sony are recognized for taking risks with their games too. Titles such as Heavy Rain, Wonderbook, Little Big Planet and the soon to be released Beyond - Two Souls may never have seen the light of day had it not been for Sony.
The system is still producing the goods in spite of its age, and the only minor issues I have had are what seems like an endless series of updates/patches and installs. None of which are a deal breaker by any means, and are prevalent on other consoles. In the end, the console user only cares about the games, and it's here where Sony has dominated.
Sony are renowned for supporting their hardware beyond what is expected by the consumer, so purchasing a PS3 this holiday will give you years of entertainment. PS3 is now reasonably affordable at £199 for a 500GB model (often included with a AAA game) and the entry level 12GB model can be snapped up for around £129 or less.
Microsoft Xbox 360
And here we have the Xbox 360, the oldest of the current generation, stretching over 7 years since launch and still going strong. The 360 has an amazing back catalogue of games that still manage to shine even today. The console was originally beset with hardware problems, which seem to have been ironed out over many revisions and is more than reliable to date.
The 360 has it's own exclusives such as Forza, Gears of War and Halo 4 being the most noteable. Unfortunately, Microsoft's own output has slowed over the last few years, which has given the PS3 some momentum. However, it is generally accepted third parties spend more time on 360 when developing multi-platform titles, but that situation has changed recently with PS3 leading development at some studios.
Microsoft's has been accused of being too media centric over the past few years, and it has been Microsoft's desire for a share of Nintendo's casual audience that has distracted them from the core audience.
Chances are Microsoft could be the next to launch with 360's successor. There are rumours Sony will release before Microsoft, but I will predict Sony will follow closely behind. If you have any discernible interest in keeping up with technology, you may want to wait (possibly a year) for their new console, assuming you do not currently own a 360. The 360 250GB model can be picked up for £199 (again with bundled games) and the casual 4GB model for around £149 or less.
If you're an existing Wii owner, then a Wii U purchase is almost mandatory.
For everyone else, the Wii U will fill a nice gap between/to the next generation. I consider the Wii U to be Nintendo's next generation product, but not a next generation leap in terms of technology. Whatever you think Sony or MS will release next, both are expected to be significantly more powerful than the Wii U.
Whether we like it or not, this industry is driven by technology.