The famed designer behind MS’s Fable series thinks Nintendo’s new box is fun, but nothing to write home about. Does he have a point?
Peter Molyneux, former Microsoft/Lionhead designer, evidently has time for Nintendo’s Wii U, between his new role with 22Cans. His take on the freshly released console are neither outstanding nor devastating, but he does think that Big N may have missed the mark this time.
In a recent interview with gamesindustrybiz, the famed designer had some eyebrow raising thoughts on Nintendo’s newest hardware: “I think the Wii U is good, but I don’t feel it’s great. I find holding the device in my hand–looking up at the screen and looking down at the device–slightly confusing as a consumer,” Molyneux says. “It’s good, but it’s not great,” he adds.
In addition, Molyneux believes that Nintendo, as well as Sony and Microsoft, need to be a cut above the rest with their hardware, due to the more expansive/contestant gaming industry. “The competition is everything, all the technology. When you’re holding a Kindle Fire or an iPad in your hand, it’s just amazing technology,” Peter M. notes. “People like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft need to match that,” then adding, “And I’m not sure the Wii U really did that.”
If you were to ask Nintendo who they need to rival, they would argue the opposite, noting their own efforts as the example to follow. “In the end, our competitors need to react to what we’re doing in the marketplace and need to figure out what their innovation will be,” Big N boss, Reggie Fils Aime, recently told CNET.
Is 22Can’s designer right or is Reggie? I can see Peter Molyneux’s point and concur to a degree that the big three should, and probably are, paying attention to the rest of the tech world as gaming expands beyond consoles and PCs; however, innovative software makes a big difference and Nintendo is usually spot on in this category, meaning they will once again have to lead the charge. Question is, will it be enough to inspire 3rd parties on Wii U? The ports are there, but software built from the ground up is what everyone is pining to see.
From a technical standpoint, I feel Nintendo’s new system is simply catching up to current standards, nevertheless, Wii U’s predecessor and handheld brother taught us that gameplay – over graphical prowess – is the driving force behind innovative/commercial success. Again, this is Nintendo’s job to advance, I believe.
Going forward: It’s way too early to gauge Wii U’s potential, but the hardware is in an interesting position to say the least. The industry is the middle of a transition. Consoles aren’t king anymore, free-to-play titles are becoming a more viable game model and mobile/tablet gaming has a growing appeal in the handheld market.
Having said this, tablets and iPads don’t own the market just yet. Yes, consoles share the throne now, but still carry a strong presence in the industry. Sony and Microsoft’s systems are on the way and we’ll see which suit they follow soon enough. As for Wii U, 2013 is the year for the hardware to start shining and if there one thing most of us can agree upon: You can never count out Nintendo.