Rumor: Wii U not as powerful as PS3, Xbox 360

"The graphics are just not as powerful."

April 2, 2012 / 06:33 PM EDT / (@salromano)

Nintendo’s next-generation venture into the world of high-definition may not compete with the current generation, graphically. 

According to multiple developers, speaking on condition of anonymity to GamesIndustry.biz, the Wii U is not as powerful as PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360.

“The graphics are just not as powerful,” said one developer.

“It doesn’t produce graphics as well as the PS3 or the 360,” said another developer. “There aren’t as many shaders, it’s not as capable. Sure, some things are better, mostly as a result of it being a more modern design. But overall the Wii U just can’t quite keep up.”

Nintendo has been silent on Wii U since its E3 reveal last year. Though, that should change at E3 this June, where Nintendo has promised it will share new details.

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  • Kougeru

    That would be pointless then. Then again nearly every rumor about ANY of the next consoles makes them seem pretty pointless as upgrades. Though, another factor is that with consoles it takes forever to get devs to learn how to use the hardware properly. It’s hard to take their words very seriously when they’ve barely had any time to work with them. It’s not all about shaders, or clock speeds. It’s about a multitude of things as any PC enthusiast knows…Since it’s a custom GPU and CPU it’s impossible to really say “it’s not as powerful” without 100% knowing every little detail in the system (which I’m sure these are still not final versions of ).

  • FaithlessMr

    Graphics, graphics, graphics. This is why I don’t look forward to the next generation of consoles; it seems that it’s always about the looks and never about the contents.

    • gold163

      @FaithlessMr: The thing is that if your console has the power to push polygons chances are it has the power to do other things as well. Graphics refers to more than just how pretty the game can look; it can also mean things about the resolutions the games support, the amount of action you can have onscreen, and other important things that are more relevant to the actual gameplay than it might seem at first.

      Nintendo has to give us a console that can at least perform as well as the ones we have now. If they don’t it shows me they aren’t uncommitted to their technology other than the gimmicks. It doesn’t have to be knock your socks off impressive. It just has to be competent. If it can’t meet the standards NOW there’s no way it’ll be able to compete later, you know?

      • FaithlessMr

        @gold163:
        Sure, I totally understand that, and I don’t neglect any of the things you mentioned. Still, I find myself having heaps o’ fun with games from last gen or heck, MS DOS games for that matter who have pretty bad gwaphix.

        I give some more respect to any developer who can work with less assets and build something as great and sometimes even greater better than those with better assets at their disposal. Take for example the critically acclaimed and fan favorite Xenoblade (I’m naming a Nintendo game, but I could as easily name a Sony or Microsoft game, this has absolutely nothing to do with brand names or hardware loyalty whatsoever, I can assure you this much). You have an SD game that’s expansive, gorgeous, and fun to play. It also manages to innovate greatly in the console rpg genre, and all of this without HD assets and functions.

        My point being…having more assets and better tech at your disposal can be a great way to get a great game going, but more important than all of that, is someone with ideas and the will to actually innovate way past the visual flair and number of rendered polygons on screen ;)

        • gold163

          @FaithlessMr: Right now, sales of the original Wii have slowed to a crawl. Nintendo needs something new that will impress people in order to sell. The majority of consumers aren’t concerned about innovative, expansive games that are beautiful despite lacking in bleeding-edge graphics. They want to be impressed. Going with outdated technology worked for Nintendo with the original Wii, but I am almost certain that it will not work with a lot of customers a second time. If Nintendo cannot offer us merely adequate technology then they have to pull a magic trick out of their asses a second time.

          • FaithlessMr

            @gold163:
            I think we’re talking about different things here. Lemme get this out of the way first, because I think it’s important for anyone to read my arguments bearing this in mind: I am in no way defending Nintendo or siding with any hardware company.I actually commented on this article as I could very well comment the same thing on any other of these numerous rumour articles being posted daily, promising new consoles with over the top tech and eye melting graphics.

            I honestly don’t think the problem with the wii relies solely on the tech, but rather on the lack of third party support, something which has been happening with Nintendo ever since the SNES days (which have been undoubtfully their golden period, and by far, the most sucessful). Sure, with nicer tech comes new incentives for both developers and publishers alike to invest in software for a certain console, but my point is, it’s wrong to rely solely on high tech to create big games.

            So I’m only saying that at the end of the day, better graphic specs are a tool, and not a goal in itself. Usage of better graphics and polygons to render more stuff on screen can make a game better, but if you focus solely on that, wouldn’t you end up with a beautiful looking game, that’s actually quite boring and dull? I can think of a couple of games that are absolutely stunning, graphical benchmarks at that, and yet, are awfully boring, uninteresting, and simply fail to innovate in any way. Now that is my point. Graphics, in my honest opinion, ammount to nothing unless there are some mechanics that support a game and make it interesting. More important than all the tech in the world, is a team that is capable of working together to achieve something that manages to give the audience what it wants, or even surpass said audience expectations. Sure, graphics do a whole lot, since it’s the very first thing you see, and first impressions count a whole lot. But if you want a game that lingers on first past impressions, you’re going to need more than just raw horsepower.

            • gold163

              @FaithlessMr: The issue is that Nintendo lost third-party support precisely because of their hardware in the first place. The Nintendo 64 was cartridge-based in a time where disc-based mediums were being hyped up. The Gamecube suffered a bad reputation from third parties because even though it was arguably more powerful than any other console of its generation Nintendo had developed a “kiddy” reputation and the hardware wasn’t capable of the same easy technical effects on something like the Xbox, which had architecture that was similar to PCs and therefore more familiar to western third parties. And the Wii? Let’s not even get into that.

              Under scrutiny you realize that Nintendo’s loss of third party support is directly related to their odd decisions in hardware. Third parties aren’t interested in making creative, unique experiences on unconventional hardware when they can have an easier time on easier hardware instead. Especially in this age where multiplatform, portable experiences means big money for relatively less investment.

              I understand your point perfectly and even agree with some parts, I just think that it’s a bit naive to think that sort of viewpoint is absolute without understanding exactly why things are the way they are now. It easy to say “graphics shouldn’t matter” from the standpoint that they don’t completely define the games we play, but you underestimate the effects processing power and differences in hardware have on the games we play, how they’re developed, and how people perceive them. Having an ideal is one thing; striving to meet that ideal isn’t always applicable in realistic situations.

              • FaithlessMr

                @gold163:
                But I don’t underestimate nothing. I know it’s important, but I still think that much more emphasis than necessary is being put on graphics alone. It’s not an ideal, nor is it wishful thinking: it’s my opinion.

  • rockman29

    I think the significance of these is that the console won’t be able to support HD resolutions very nicely. I am still disappointed with PS3′s ability to output graphics needed for the higher resolutions at 720p, let alone 1080p… it was a letdown from what was advertised, straight and simple. I know it’s not all about graphics, but it would have been nice if Nintendo could release a console in 2012/13 that could perform reasonably with an HD set.

    And if you remember at the E3 press conference, Nintendo was touting and tooting the horn of HD resolutions like Sony and Microsoft did in 2006… so it’s not so unfair for developers or consumers to expect some reasonable graphics performance. Also, part of the Zelda demonstrations was advertising the HD capabilities of WiiU, was it not? If you looked at the demo and said ‘I only care about the gameplay’ and were not even in the slightest excited about seeing Zelda in HD, then all you win is some self-righteousness and a badge made out of a pop can tab.

    It’s not the be-all-end-all of games, but it’s still a new product and there are some expectations that will come along with that.

  • captainhowdy

    I don’t believe this. IBM said that the new Nintendo console will have the same technology that powers Watson.

    Nintendo wants control of the hardcore market with the WiiU, to not have this thing alittle more powerful than the PS360 would be foolish. Also Batman: Arkham City, Metro 2034, and Darksiders 2 will look better than the PS360, and that’s from the developers mouths.

    • gold163

      @captainhowdy: Maybe it’s just a matter of Nintendo’s hardware being radically different to program compared to conventional hardware. It was a similar situation with the Gamecube, which did not support shaders in the same sense that modern consoles do, but could be programmed to do all sorts of creative visual tricks instead, many of which greatly resembled or performed the same function as shaders on a fundamental level.

      I think with the advent of commonplace middleware and true multiplatform games in the modern generation, it’s harder to trust that developers know what they’re talking about when they criticize certain hardware.

  • AdamBoy64

    If Nintendo’s 8th generation console can’t match Sony/MS’ 7th gen console.. that’d be kinda bad.

    But yeah, I don’t put too much stock in these rumours. Also, as Kougeru pointed out – the final specifications and design of the Wii U is up in the air – until E3 this year.

  • Malcolm Reynolds

    The only rumors we should be hearing about the Wii-U should be talking about how much MORE powerful the damn thing is gonna be than the 360 and PS3….not how much less.

    Rumors like this should not exist. The fact that they do is very sad.

    Please stop defending and making excuses for Nintendo people. After almost 30yrs of gaming and collecting I have grown weary of Nintendo’s refusal to produce an amazing product on all fronts….especially grafics.

    6 years after the 360 drops…there is no point in releasing a “next gen” console that cant output better visuals.

    And yet we have to watch SEGA struggle to remain afloat…much less relevant? The Wii can’t run Dreamcast games for Chrissakes. (note the minute bit of sarcasm in that last sentence although the point is still quite relevant).

    A new console on the horizon should be exciting…not disheartening.

  • vertical09

    While graphics aren’t everything in a game, it should take a step up from console to console. If it doesn’t, it must boast a crap-ton of features that can make up for it.
    Either way, these rumors about the new systems have all been really bad lately >_> If this all comes true in the end, 2012 wont be the end of the world, it’ll be the end of the game industry =P

  • hush404

    Lots of comments, eh.

    • Zero

      @hush404:

      Everyone loves to speculate. :D

      • hush404

        @Zero: Argue too, it seems. I dislike getting caught up in arguments, so my silly response replaced what I WAS going to write :P

  • xMCXx

    I don’t really believe this, but if it’s true, then Nintendo is doing the same mistake all over again.

  • captainhowdy

    @gold163

    I don’t know, this rumor seems off. “The graphics are just not as powerful,” this doesn’t even sound like a professional developer.

    The Wii U should be fine in my opinion if Nintendo can have the third party support, with good online. I hated the Wii, and I hate all handhelds (I don’t like playing games on small screens). This will be my first Nintendo console I’ve brought in years.