Why the $&@*% did I pre-order a Wii U? - Article

By Matt Ashbaugh, October 9, 2012
18,987 Views

It had been a day after Nintendo finally let us all in on “their big secret” and told us the information we had been so impatiently waiting for. How much does the Wii U cost (US-$349 | UK- £300) and when can we buy one (US-Nov 18| UK-30 Nov)? Of course, they didn’t want to tell us back when we all wanted to know.

No, not during E3 when the entire Western videogame fanbase was giving them their full attention. They waited until the very day after Apple announced their new iOS and the iPhone 5 so that most major news focused on that instead of them. Good job, Nintendo. No, seriously, thumbs up on that excellent decision. You get a cookie. Shove it in your mouth so the sugar jumpstarts your brain a bit, you freaking dumbasses. 

Bad timing aside, I was still happy enough with what I’ve seen (combined with my hands-on time at E3) to decide that I was getting one on launch day. When I tell people this, I get one of four responses:

1) Me too!
2) Really? Should I get one, too?
3) What the hell is a Wii U?
4) Why the $&@*% would you buy that $#!&?

It is the last "question" that usually started a conversation that annoyed me. Those were the people that labeled me a “Nintendo fanboy” and accused me of “throwing my money away on last gen tech”. They don’t want one? Fine. Who cares, right? It was the finger-pointing and assumptions that I hadn't thought it through that pissed me right the hell off. 

I think things through, that’s like … my thing. Logic’s my bro and deductive reasoning is my wingman when I go out and try to score the digits of those fine-assed foxy decisions. If your mind doesn’t roll that way, I guess I can try to give you the paint-by-numbers pathway towards why I did what I did. So open up your brain hole and prepare thyself.

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Ok. I do slightly get where this argument is coming from. Historically all Nintendo consoles have launched at less than $250 so they are breaking with that expectation. Also, the current (and still perfectly good) Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles can be had for $300 or less. Of course, there are many problems with thinking this way. 

First, inflation. Ever heard of it? A dollar doesn’t always cost the same every year due to stock markets and other economic voodoo. So did the NES cost $200 when it launched back in 1985? Yes. What would $200 equal when being translated into 2012 dollars? $426. When you adjust console launch prices for inflation, the Wii U pricing is pretty close to the standard price for most consoles.

Second, it seems unfair to compare the price of a new console to the price of a technology that has been on the market for seven years. That’s not kosher in the tech market. Besides, I’ve already had all of those consoles for many years now. So what do I care what it costs to buy something I already have? It's just a silly point to bring up. If you want to get right down to it, all PlayStations and Xboxes have launched (adjusted for inflation) for more than the deluxe Wii U bundle will cost. And they didn’t come with a pack-in game. 

Speaking of that, have you ever priced the actual cost of a new console? Do you need an extra controller? Did you need to get an HDMI cable so you could actually play in HD? Did you have to pay some fee to play with people online? Did you have to drop money to get an adaptor so your console would be able to connect via Wi-fi? How much extra did you spend on games? It does start to add up.

Since I (like around 95 million people worldwide) already have a Wii, I already have all the extra controllers I need. I already have a collection of titles (both disk and digital) that I will be able to play. So when I pre-ordered my Wii U, my only extra expense is additional games. If you don't want it just say, "$350 is more than I'm willing to spend on a Wii U at the moment." Then you won't sound so uninformed. 

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In a world of increased digital downloads, we need more storage than ever before. Other current gen consoles contain hard drives that have over 300 GBs of space so that we can keep all our games, music, movies, or whatever on them without fear of running out of room. Nintendo has also tried to convince us that they “get” the internet now and will be offering their future full retail first-party titles with the option to download them day one. So time to freak out right? We can only have a couple of games downloaded at one time before the thing is full. 

Except they have already confirmed that you can use whatever external hard drive you want up to a 3 TB size. External hard drives are getting cheaper every day. There is a good chance you already have one or two for the purposes of emergency backups or “totally legal” entertainment media storage. The USB 2.0 transfer rate is actually faster than an optical disk drive can read, so there should not be a slowdown problem of playing games off of an external drive. 

Instead of doing the jerk thing of only offering memory extensions through propriety drives (*cough* Microsoft *cough*), they are letting you do your own thing. You only buy games on disk? Heck, the basic model’s 8 GB is probably more than you’ll ever need for the console’s lifecycle. You like downloading games, getting DLC, and more? You can shop around for whatever external drive you want and it’ll work. They are giving the power and choice to their customers. Good on ya Nintendo. 

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So the gamepad controller is just a lamer iPad with buttons right? Sure, you could say that, if you want to be a douche-nozzle all the time. Instead of going with the “glass half empty” analogy you could say, it’s a modern (10 button, 2 sticks, and d-pad) controller with the motion sensing abilities of a Wiimote, a camera, and a touchscreen. So, unlike the GameCube with its single Z-button bumper or far from standard Wiimote, this controller doesn't have to make adjustments to control schemes for games made to work on other consoles. The other features are just more tools developers can use as little or as much as they want. More options opens up more gameplay opportunities.  They called the touchscreen of the DS a gimmick too and today teenagers seem to like it.  They seem pretty on the ball.

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Ok. Sure. Why is that a bad thing? If anything it is helpful for Nintendo. Third-party developers could then port these second screen experiences across all the consoles easier. They won’t consider the utilization of the Wii U gamepad’s touchscreen as extra development that can only be used by one section of the market. If EA wants to have those alternate control methods in the next Madden that they showed during Microsoft’s E3 press conference, they now know they can offer those features for a larger audience. 

The benefit for Nintendo is that the gamepad is considered the default controller. So they have been able to optimize things like control lag and stream delay. No matter what Microsoft says, they can’t promise a lag-free experience across all possible Apple/Android devices. Sony is doing the Cross Control option for the Vita which is a cool feature. Time will tell if the additional benefits of using a handheld with its own processor and ability to operate without the home console as a controller will be worth the additional $250 for the average consumer who doesn’t already own a Vita.

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Yep. No multi-touch. Sadface. 

Except, what does multi-touch do for gaming? It adds the ability to do a three-finger tap (usually used for pausing), two finger swipe for rapid scrolling, and everybody’s favorite… the pinch-zoom. Look, I could point out things like patent issues that would increase costs or material needs that would again increase the costs. However, I’ll just ask, why did these multi-touch devices need multi-touch? Because they didn’t want them to have a lot of buttons. Largely because they aren’t purely gaming devices, they just do a little on the side, like a hobby.

Anything that multi-touch has given gaming is something a button can do. Besides, with single touch we still have tapping, double tapping, tap and hold, directional swiping, and drawing. Heck, I can hardly remember the last time I played an iOS game that used multi-touch beyond using the pinch-zoom. When I played Scribblenauts Unlimited at E3, I used the bumpers to zoom in and out. It really just doesn’t seem like it’ll be much of an issue.

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Well, sure that could happen, and it won’t be long after that when a PC will be able to outpower those consoles, either. Power alone has never been a good indicator of market success. How has putting out the quite potent PS3 worked out for Sony? I freaking love my PS3, but you know what I don’t love? Orange Box on my PS3. Or Fallout 3, or Skyrim, or Bayonetta

See, all the power in the world doesn’t help if developers can’t figure out how to unlock it. Third party developers are just like any other human (or lightning bolts) they take the path of least resistance. In the current gen, the Xbox 360 was the easiest console to develop for. So for many games it was made first on the 360 then ported to the others. We have no idea what the future holds for the next gen of consoles, but we do know that many developers (including independant devs) have commented on how easy it is to make games on the Wii U. In a world where time is money, labor is time, and money is tight … easy is king. 

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So, you are complaining that you can’t figure out how to learn how to use a new controller? Sure you have some muscle memory, but you've lost the ability to learn? Are you the dude from Memento?

Instead of moving my thumb up off the second stick, I shall go down to hit the face buttons. You think you can handle that? Or just wait for the inevitable third-party controller laid out like the controller you prefer.

Oh, and too light? Seriously? This thing I have to hold in my hands for long time periods isn’t heavier has got to be the dumbest damn nitpicky thing to whine about. You want to think weight is tied to sturdiness, but this is Nintendo we are talking about. They made GameBoys that survived explosions and Wiimotes that when flung at a TV broke the damn TV. They make sturdy stuff. Duct tape a paperweight to the back if you need the extra few ounces.

You are complaining about the optional controller as a reason to not buy a console. This argument is a little like not buying a new car because you don't like the cup holder. 

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You name me one console/handheld that had a good launch day line-up outside of the one or two hyped titles. Check Wikipedia if you need to. See? It is never sunshine and lollipops when a console first launches.  That stuff takes time.  

There is at least one game on the huge Wii U launch day list that will fit the interests of any console gamer. The only problem is that some of these more “hardcore” games are the Wii U’s version of a game that will have already been released before the Wii U launches. However, even though I will be getting Assassin’s Creed III for my PS3 when it launches in October, there are some people who will be fine waiting the three weeks to play it on Wii U. I’m not personally going to buy the same game twice, but it is fine that the option exists for those patient players. If nothing else it is a proving ground to show what is possible on the Wii U.

Also there is one thing you are probably forgetting: downloadable indie titles. There are quirky titles like Little Inferno (by the makers of World of Goo) and white-knuckle-hard platformers like the Kickstarter-funded Cloudberry Kingdom. You also will have sequels to BIT.TRIP. Runner and Toki Tori showing up. Good third-party support and good indie support equals lots of gaming choice from the first day and onward. 

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So’s your face. 

Seriously though, I’ve actually played the thing. From what I’ve experienced, it’s fun. Good old-fashioned couch co-op fun. Many gamers turned up their nose at Wii Sports, but you have to admit that you ended up playing it and actually had some fun with it. 

While Wii Sports was five tech demos with a sports wrapper for the wiimote, NintendoLand is twelve “mini-games” (that are tech demos for the gamepad controller with a Nintendo wrapper) each with alternative modes and some hidden depth. They are games that are easy to grasp but difficult to master, which is the perfect spot for party/family games. A time will come when you have a bunch of people at your place: holidays, birthdays, just a typical Saturday night. You will have a group of people of different skill levels who all need to be entertained … NintendoLand will likely be exactly that. It won’t set the world on fire, but there is fun to be had which is the whole point of games, isn’t it? 

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That's cool. I hope that works out for you.

See? See how much I care? That’s the proper amount of caring you should have about someone buying something they want. Unless that thing is a fog horn they put in your backyard that bellows racist slurs in the middle of the night that's powered completely by orphan puppy tears, what other people buy doesn’t really affect your life. 

I pre-ordered a Wii U because I had fun playing it.  Also because out of all the companies who offer gaming platforms, Nintendo is the only one that is solely a gaming company.  They live and die on the success of their consoles and games alone without computers, tvs, cameras, and so on to fall back on.  That makes them hungry and keeps them innovating.  Sometimes this pays off, sometimes it doesn't, but it is always an interesting rollercoaster ride.

Even if the Wii U completely follows in the footsteps of the Wii, I will still get to experience some amazing and unique exclusive titles on it. Even if there is a gap between good game releases, I’ll probably end up still using the TVii universal remote feature pretty much every day. Even in worst case scenarios, I will end up getting my money’s worth over its lifetime. So yeah, I've thought it through before making a decision.  The pros outweigh the cons by a Miyamoto mile.  

That’s why I $&@*% pre-ordered a Wii U.

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