According to some, the Wii U heralds the arrival of the next generation of hardware. Is this a good thing?

According to some, the Wii U heralds the arrival of the next generation of hardware. Is this a good thing?

The Wii U will be out at the end of this month (November) and it will be Nintendo’s first new console since its predecessor was released in 2006. HD support is now included and a fancy new controller with an in-built, TV-independent control screen will hopefully add a new layer of interactivity and convenience towards one’s enjoyment.

To be honest, I really couldn’t care less about the Wii U at the moment as I’ve only now found the time to burn through all the games I bought way back in 2010. The joys of being unemployed and having just finished university for the year have made me reflect on whether the major console players, such as Nintendo, should allow for greater periods of time to pass before releasing the next major iteration of a console line. Please note that by making this statement, I am not really referring to console redesigns such as the PS3/Xbox 360 Slim but instead the transition from PS2 to PS3 or from Gamecube to Wii in Australia specifically.  

The PS2 was released in late 2000 and Sony only apparently stopped production of the console earlier this month. In that case, the PS2 has now enjoyed a 12 year life cycle that saw it bear witness to some of the greatest series ever released. Furthermore, the extensive range of the library for PS2 has now led to a period nowadays where many classics, including rare titles, can be found at bargain prices. I personally anticipated in 2010 that the next few years were the best time to purchase those PS2 games I never got around to playing before they’d inevitably become ever harder to find. As the PS2 library holds 1500+ different games, it is likely that the average person would never be able to play most of the titles that were released. It is also important to consider that Australia has forever been a backwater location for many PS2 releases and that the range of titles available here pales in comparison to the availability of obscure games in Europe. It’s actually a testament to the PS2’s longevity that their games are still available in EB Games or JB Hifi nowadays to begin with.

Considering that the PS3 was released locally in 2007, the PS2 saw a lot of releases that year such as God of War 2 and Persona 3 that still made it relevant. To be honest, I find that the PS3 could’ve been released a year or two later and no one would’ve minded. I certainly wouldn’t. If you can remember, the fanfare for the release of the PS3 in Australia was muted by its exorbitant price and the lousy launch titles on offer. While I was only 11 during the PS2’s release, I can confidently remember how people were astounded at the improved graphics between the PS1 and PS2. Between the PS2 and the PS3, I wasn’t really astounded any more but instead simply confirmed the graphical improvement and left it at that. I was honestly too busy still playing the PS2.

Longevity is what gaming consoles should strive for. The PS2 only went through 2 designs, the original and the slimline. Even then, regardless of which model, it’s more likely that your old, trusty PS2 console would likely keep on working longer than your PS3 or Xbox 360 launch console.  Ironically, the PS3 is 7 years younger than its predecessor and it’s already seen itself redesigned in three different forms.  In considering the PS3 library, it has reached roughly half the number of titles (760+) than the PS2 library but this number doesn’t take in to account region-exclusive titles, especially from Japan. Every time I hear news of a PS4, I honestly get dismayed. While Sony hasn’t released any explicit details on the PS3’s successor, I hope it doesn’t come in to being for another two or three years. I genuinely want the PS3 to keep building its library and hopefully reach a point where when the PS4 eventually finds itself on the market, I can ignore it for a year or so thanks to a backlog of dirt-cheap PS3 titles.

I’m always a bit puzzled by the hype surrounding the release of a new console. Most people aren’t early adopters of technology and will simply wait for a price drop around the holidays later on or the release of a must-have game before committing to purchase. For example, I purchased a Nintendo 3DS at launch and the most pressing thing I can remember about owning one so soon was seeing my handheld being used more for DS games than 3DS ones. Other people just let it gather dust or ended up selling it.

As consoles are more complex nowadays, I’m still curious as to what more the PS3 can do? Hopefully much more if Sony does the right thing and tries to sustain its product’s life cycle for as long as the PS2.

With the Wii U being released here in Australia on November 30, the Wii only really lasted less than 6 years in Australia. It obviously still exists and Wii games will be continue to be made and sold but Nintendo will focus more on its new baby now than its old one. In terms of appealing to a greater market of people and capturing that ‘casual gamer’ crowd, the Wii was a success. But in terms of selling itself as a successor to the Gamecube’s range of titles, the results are either mixed or a failure. I focus a lot on libraries here as I understand that people buy consoles to play games. So the greater variety of games should equate to increased longevity.

So in this case, the Wii never really got that chance.

It was a technically deficient console (in comparison to the PS3/Xbox 360) with endless shovel-ware games on offer and no decent third-party support. But it did have some obscure gems to play. Unfortunately, many of them were either already available on PS2 (how surprising?) or not available locally.  I’m not sure how I should respond to the Wii U. It’s attempting to do something different with a radically new controller but I question if it will really be enough. Personally, third-party support will be what Nintendo pays attention to this time around and in doing so, maybe the Wii U will actually last longer than its predecessor. I do recognise how awesome Nintendo’s IPs are but they shouldn’t be the only thing selling the console.

Ultimately, I’m very fixated on consoles lasting as long as possible because that’s when consumers get their monies worth. The PS2 will forever be the best investment I ever made in gaming and justifies why I never needed to bother with buying an Xbox or Gamecube back in the day. I fear that ever-increasing technical specifications will never allow our consoles to live as long as they should. Seeing however as how the PS3 and Xbox 360 have expanded their reach to other forms of media such as television and the internet, maybe it’s an encouraging sign that the life cycle of both products has now been extended. I only play games at the end of the day but if these other features, however superficial they may be, contribute to either console lasting a little longer, then I really can’t complain.

 - Corey Lee

 

Screen Play readers can submit articles and game reviews for consideration in Your Turn and Your Review using the email address SPYourTurn@gmail.com. The best blog post published on Screen Play between 1 November and 30 November 2012, as judged by James Dominguez, will win a PS Vita handheld console from Sony Computer Entertainment. This is a wi-fi unit, and has a recommended retail price of $349. The next prize winner will be announced on Friday 30 November. Only Australian residents are eligible and the judge's decision is final.

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