Is the Wii U a stopgap console? A hint at what the next console will be?
Honestly, this does seem like the direction Nintendo might be going in. Handhelds have been their bread-and-butter for the past 15 years or so, while their consoles (with the exception of the Wii) have been an albatross around the company's neck, a burden they've been forced to deal with by the limitations of hardware and the expectations of customers. However, now that the line dividing handhelds from home consoles has gotten less clear, Nintendo may take the opportunity to merge both together and take their business in a new direction.
Of course, I don't think this will be happening anytime soon. The 3DS and the Wii U won't be ready for retirement for another 5 years, minimum. But the Wii U does seem to be a logical step towards that end; a power-efficient machine with previously unseen wireless streaming capabilities. And uniting the two hardware divisions into one seems like a step towards making that happen.
I dunno. Either way, I'm just going to enjoy my Wii U for the next 5-6 years. But I am curious to see where Nintendo is going with this...
I think the future Nintendo console will be a handheld system you can dock easily into a port connected to a tv to make it a home console. A system where you buy one game, and you can always play it, whether at home or on the go. Kind of like what Sony wants with the PS4/Vita, but integrated a bit smoother.
Something like this could work. It would be a tricky balancing act though. Just to quickly run through the kind of device you'd be talking about:
- Tegra 5 (Tegra 4 will come close to matching the Wii U but probably won't beat it, Tegra 5 will, and presumably Nintendo would want this hypothetical machine to be more powerful than the Wii U).
- 2015 release or later (Tegra 4 is 2013. Tegra 5 is 2014. It make take a while to optimise a Tegra 5 for a fixed configuration device and Nintendo will want to hold off anyway for numerous reasons).
- Two screens, clamshell (no point in unifying console and handheld without having two screens).
- Top screen 5-inch 1080p screen (common this year, will be cheap by 2015).
- Bottom screen 4-inch 720p screen (higher than GamePad resolution).
- 3DS XL type machine, except with second Circle Pad as standard.
- Console dock. Mostly a passthrough. Similar to Neo Geo X Gold. Charges console and has video out, adds ports for storage and accessories.
- Controller (to play machine while docked, may not be necessary if wireless AV is used)
The price tag for the machine would, in 2015, be a higher than the Vita's price tag now (same basic architecture, similar but more advanced components, same general control setup, additional screen, internal storage, dock). Call it US$300 bare minimum, maybe US$350 if we want a decent amount of storage.
That could work as a business model.
What it won't really work as is a short-term project that makes the WIi U a "stopgap" console. What you're describing is feasible now but not worth doing, and won't be worth doing for almost 3 years (it's a longer time if you want Wii U compatibility - in fact, a significantly longer time).
Mobile processors are getting faster and more powerful every day, within a few years, I'd imagine they can best the Wii U in a portable package.
Yep, although it's worth noting that what mobile architecture can theoretically do and what it actually does in practical terms are often very different. Mobile devices need to worry about heat and power consumption. Consoles do as much, but not nearly as much. This is why the Tegra 3 that's in the Ouya will be capable of a lot more than the Tegra 3 in many mobile phones.
Memory cards can hold more data than discs as well.
They can only hold more data at prices that mean they're not economically viable. Discs cost nearly nothing and hold more than enough for a game. To match the 50GB of a Blu-ray you need 64GB of flash memory and that's expensive no matter what. Handheld devices do have that worry about heat and power, though, which is why they have tended not to use discs (with the PSP being the only exception for handheld games machines). This does force some kind of flash memory as the format, but let's not pretend that that's an advantage of any kind.
So - think this is possible? Or am I greatly overestimating the potential power of future mobile processors?
You have a realistic idea for a games machine and you're going to start to see devices like it starting from this year. What you probably don't have is a realistic idea for a Nintendo machine. I think they'll only unify their product range if they feel that they absolutely have to.
I think technology trends are going to make them have to. People expect to be able to consume content when they want, where they want, and how they want. Nintendo can't compete with "all-in-one" entertainment devices like phones (and they shouldn't) - but they can certainly play to their strengths and be "THE" gaming machine
Good breakdown by the way. Maybe I'm being a little too quick to say something like this will be here "soon" - but if they announced something in e3, say, three years from now, I wouldn't be shocked. I don't see the Wii U being more than a four year system
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