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Nintendo's Fils-Aime outlines Wii U's dual GamePad plans, value proposition
Nintendo's Fils-Aime outlines Wii U's dual GamePad plans, value proposition Exclusive
June 13, 2012 | By Chris Morris

June 13, 2012 | By Chris Morris
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    34 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, Exclusive, E3



While Nintendo relieved fans with last week's announcement that the Wii U would support two tablet controllers, those hoping to take advantage of that when the system launches will be out of luck.

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime tells Gamasutra that while the new console has multi-tablet capabilities, neither Nintendo nor its third-party partners will have any games available that take advantage of that during the launch window.

"Games need to be built that can take advantage of the two GamePad controllers," he says. "It's going to be well after launch for those game experiences to come to life."

Initially, he says, Nintendo expects developers to best figure out how to utilize a second screen in gameplay before figuring out how to incorporate a third and that could take a while to master.

"Asymmetric gameplay is going to be the next major step forward, just like active play was when we launched the Wii," says Fils-Aime. "We think that's where developers will focus first, then there will be multiple experiences that have two GamePads."

Near-field communications

Among the other E3(ish) revelations about the Wii U was the inclusion of near-field communications in the GamePad. While Nintendo mentioned this in passing in its pre-show webcast discussing the console's hardware, it was not included in the E3 press conference.

Like dual GamePad integration, this seems to be an area where discovery is just underway and one that has yet to have any firm titles attached to it. Fils-Aime, though, hinted at one Skylanders-like title that seems a logical (and potentially lucrative) first step.

"There's a lot of things that can be done," he says. "I've already gotten letters from Pokemon fans wishing we would do something with it."

We didn't get 3DS value equation right

Nintendo, of course, did not announce a launch price or date for the Wii U at E3, opting instead to keep that information close to its vest and control yet another news cycle down the road. Analysts have said that anything over $300 would be considered disappointing and could put sales at risk.

Fils-Aime offered no hints about a number in our discussion, but acknowledged the company learned a valuable lesson about pricing with the 3DS handheld system last year.

"What's important is value," he says. "We need to make sure we nail the value equation and let people know you get what you pay for. It's a matter of balance. ... We didn't get that value equation right on the Nintendo 3DS."

The other worry, since this is a new Nintendo console after all, is keeping up with demand. The company has been candid in its criticisms of its showing this E3 (with global president Satoru Iwata saying "we should have done a better job because, in effect, we could not fully convey what Wii U is all about"). But industry observers note the company still has plenty of time to recover and betting against Nintendo is a fool's game.

Once in a lifetime

When the Wii hit stores, retailers (and Nintendo) were unable to keep up with demand for the better part of a year. No one, including Nintendo, is expecting the cry for the Wii U to be close to what we saw with the Wii, but the company is determined to avoid those supply problems once again.

"As we get closer to launch, we'll manage projections and inventory but to be fair, the Wii launch was a once in a lifetime experience," says Fils-Aime. "We want every consumer who desires a Wii U on launch day to be satisfied, but in the end, I've got to drive understanding of the concept."

Also, as the console world becomes focused on more than just video games, Nintendo knows it can't ignore other entertainment sources on the Wii U. The system will support the usual console allies Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon Video. Fils-Aime has said the company will detail the unique ways people can enjoy those (and possibly other) services on the Wii U at a later point. However, he noted, they will be key selling points for the system.

"This is truly the tip of the iceberg," he says. "Even the Netflix experience we can show you is the tip of the iceberg. We know consumers want to use their gaming device for more than just gaming."


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Comments


Alex Nichiporchik
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I can see a lot of people going like "What's the point of this when I have an iPad?"

They would have to have some killer games very soon to sell the system. Much like Gears of War pushed the 360. Otherwise people won't see the point of a tablet controller that doesn't work without being connected to a box near your TV.

E McNeill
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Christian: Really? That's getting into self-parody territory. The type of game to which your complaint most applies was debuted on Facebook, where there were plenty of buttons available. Meanwhile, there are plenty of new and innovative games coming out for tablets.

David Holmin
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@E McNeill

"there are plenty of new and innovative games coming out for tablets"

New? By definition. Innovative? I don't know. Innovative application of the input style to control old styles of games, perhaps. Care to give examples? The few really good games I've played on iPhone are ports (FF) and old school games (Cave shooters) that manage to control well despite the lack of buttons, not because of it.

E McNeill
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David:

Fingle, Waking Mars, Faraway, Bit Pilot, Tiny Wings, Spelltower, Cut the Rope, Halcyon...

(Thank God for Zach Gage, apparently.)

Also, there's plenty of others that are available elsewhere but work really well with touch controls, e.g. World of Goo, Osmos, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, Plants vs. Zombies, Machinarium, Aquaria.

I'm certain I'm missing a lot.

E McNeill
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Christian: You claim that "a devcice without buttons and sticks is a device not able to offer rich gameplay experiences." Your VCS had a joystick and a button. You don't think that a touch screen, with its huge clickable canvas, can offer as much richness? What about all the games that were played with just a mouse (point-and-click adventures, tower defense games, etc.)? What about the examples in my reply above? I just can't fathom the reasoning behind your response unless you have an extremely narrow view of what makes gameplay "rich".

John Flush
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Kingdom Rush, Galaxy on Fire, Paper Monsters (Mario clone), Great Little war (Advance wars like game), Where's my Water (great puzzle game; see also Cut the Rope). There are also the games that port perfectly from XBLA/PSN and such like World of Goo and Wizardry. For RPG's don't forget Chaos Rings. Lots of people liked Infinity Blade, which would actually be worse with a controller type input.

Me personally, I love having all the board games like Puerto Rico, Ra, Blokus, Tichu, Ascension, Dominion, Tikal, Small World (though limited on this one), and Tigris and Euphrates.

The list goes on.

The problem with iPad gaming though is people still want to play the same stuff they have played for the last twenty years on the iPad. Look no further than the Wolfenstein 3D and Doom ports to realize those games just aren't that good on the system, then countless people complain about the lack of buttons holding it back.

No, the iPad is just fine - what is limiting it is the lack of understanding how to design around the control scheme.

E McNeill
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John: Hear, hear!

Christian: So you want quick reaction time and precision? Never mind the fact that these can still be done with touch (see Bit Pilot); you're still only describing a narrow subset of games. Any P&C game that isn't a hunt-the-pixel game would work fine (Machinarium). Any turn-based game would work fine. And how can you claim that 1-button games aren't "rich" when VCS games can be? I'm still left to conclude that your definitions and preferences are just weirdly narrow.

David Holmin
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@E McNeil

While Spelltower and Cut the Rope certainly are fun little games, they're not able to mesmerize me for hours the way, say Metroid, does. But you're right they can be called innovative, even if Cut the Rope falls under the "add some rules to a physics engine" genre that frankly is getting a bit tired.

As for the other games, as you point out, they originated on other platforms, and they control equally good or better with a mouse, a wiimote, or other means of input. But yes, most of them work really well on a touch screen.

I guess my point is, touch screen games will almost always work just as well on a PC, but there are lots of games that will never work (as well) on a touch screen device. Games requiring quick and well timed button presses, where physical feedback is paramount. So, the innovation in iPhone games is not dependent on the device. They represent types of games that work well there.

E McNeill
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David: That's a fair argument. While I respectfully disagree, I admit that there isn't a ton of evidence at my fingertips (Bit Pilot, Fingle, and a few others come to mind, though). I hope to create games that will serve as examples of good touch-dependent control in the future. Maybe then I can persuade you. :)

David Holmin
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@E McNeill

I'll need to check out Bit Pilot and Fingle. But yes, I'm not saying it's impossible to figure out something that works only and well on touch screens. Tell me when you do. :)

Russell Carroll
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I'm in much the same boat. Though I've played many games on my phone/iPad/iPod, I never stay captivated for very long. I think some of it may just be that I'm old! The new games feel uncomfortable and don't speak to me.

I've really enjoyed Crush, Mario 3DLand and Mighty Switch Force on my 3DS of late, and each time I finish a game I think (and sometimes say outloud) "This is why I don't dig touch-screen gaming."

For me the responsiveness of a controller is just a wonderful thing. The ability to have a number of buttons that respond so quickly and allow me to do so much w/o worry of the game getting what I want, is great!

Of course those games are all platformers or platform based, so it may just be the type of games I like that cause the issue :).

A W
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I'm sure that when companies find out that they can port their one button (one touch) games over form the iPhone / Tablet space to the Wii game Pad, you're going to see just as many tired one dimensional games on Wii U too. Wii U looks like it was made to be multifaceted towards all types of gameplay variety.

A W
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Double post

Merc Hoffner
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May I offer some alternative points as to why a person might be interested in a Wii-U as opposed to a tablet?

1: It'll probably be cheaper on the hardware end than a decent tablet
2: You can play multiplayer in one place in a scenario that's actually likely
3: Connecting it to a TV is standard in the hardware SKU, standard in the software and, easy and wireless.
3: Nintendo's pet obsession with asymmetric gaming is a real thing, that may yet offer ways of playing that can't be relied on on other platforms
4: All Wii-Us will run all Wii-U software
5: It'll be more powerful than high end tablets for a good 2 or 3 years and the vast majority of games will be more technically accomplished for its lifetime
6: It'll have some kind of Pokemon
7: It'll have all the other Nintendo games (I think Pokemon stands as a phenomenon on its own)
8: Resistive is better that Capacitive - yeah, I said it - resistive lets you use a thin nib stylus, which is massively more precise, while the multitouch aspect of capacitive in gaming is used to emulate buttons and sticks - moot on a machine which has both.
9: It's remembered to actually use the infra-red port to control your TV. Sounds silly but I remember my parents' friends forking out silly money for Marantz remote controls - something Apple and ilk could do but don't. Don't get me started on Samsung.
10: You won't be petrified of a 3 year old smashing it, or eating it.

Plenty more. Those are some off the top of my head.

Harlan Sumgui
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@merc: ": It'll be more powerful than high end tablets for a good 2 or 3 years ..."

sorry, the wiiu cpu is broadwayX3, it is already behind the ipad3.

Merc Hoffner
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A dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 @ 1 GHz vs a tri-core POWER7 @ >2GHz? I think not.

David Holmin
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Resistive can also detect how hard one presses, I think? Could be useful sometimes. For example, for drawing stuff.

Harlan Sumgui
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@christian, I think they released a spec sheet after or during e3 listing something like "ibm custom 3 core cpu", no speed or architecture info though. @merc: it is not a power7, would have been nice though. EDIT: nope didnt mention cores, oops.

Merc Hoffner
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http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/07/ibm-puts-watsons-brains-in-nin
tendo-wii-u/

That Watson is built on POWER7 is just about the only thing we know with any level of certainty about the CPU. Still, from the handful of declared dev. sources available, the CPU is at least as capable as the 360 (3X3.2 GHz Power5 based apparently) and a handful of anonymous sources have placed it as a 2.something GHz 3-core part, which all seems to tally.

Put it another way: The PSVita basically has a quad core variant of the same dual core chip in the the iPad2/3. Are you seriously suggesting that a PSVita is more than twice as powerful as a Wii-U? Or for that matter that Nintendo would include a CPU fractionally as powerful as the 360?.

Moreover, is this even relevant? We shouldn't ignore a likely huge differential in GPU capacity, the fact that tablet apps will only be able to reliably access a fraction of the CPU power, and that, hilariously, the iPad3 has to drive a much higher resolution. And again, this is merely one point in a thrown together list of ten. Lastly, does anyone not buy a machine, a tablet even, for the CPU? Clear psychovisual performance yes, CPU spec no - as the transition from iPad2->iPad3 proved.

It'll happen to be sure, but by the time tablet CPUs reach that level it won't even be really relevant anymore. Consumer level general purpose processing applications hardly ever need much more than a few cores at a few GHz, which suits the slow down in real progression of CPUs quite nicely. All the modern processing tasks are better suited to GPGPU functions anyway.

Duong Nguyen
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Not sure why people are so down on Nintendo, tablet / console integration is coming. Both Sony and Microsoft have their initiatives and if Apple TV is true so does Apple. Nintendo is head of the pack in that sense, their system is inclusive while the others are piece meal and have to take that into account.

People don't get it, the tablet offers the console users the first true precise pointing device akin to a PC, it will open up generes before which were impossible on the consoles. Strategy games and PC RPG games didn't decline because people stop liking them, they declined because as the industry migrated to consoles they couldn't be played on those platforms. The simple controls lend themselves to simple games like FPS or actioning jumping running games.

Nintendo just needs to make sure Wii U can run HD content and the latency between the devices are low enough so developers can take full advantage of them. The rest will take care of itself.

Joseph Anthony B. A. Tanimowo-Reyes
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And they've already covered both, claiming their console is HD and that the latency is non-existent.

Raymond Grier
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Too much arguing over whether Wii U's Gamepad is better or worse than a Galaxy tablet or iPad. They're different and appeal to different people. Th Wii U hardware as a whole forms something unique, better than the original Wii and Nintendo monopolizes it's self-owned IP. = Wii U is great and it will sell well.

Merc Hoffner
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posted in wrong location

Kevin Fisk
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Although Nintendo's software lineup didn't impress me at E3, it wasn't the fault of the controller in my opinion.

I feel like the Wii U pad is the first proper evolution of the standard gaming controller we've gotten since dual analog. Motion controllers definitely wasn't it. Microsoft's integration of tablet/phone is a neat concept but ultimately worthless as integration needs to be much tighter to be worthwhile.

Moving UI elements like maps or text to gameplay functions like inventory management or something are simple enhancements that worked on DS. Why not bring them to home consoles? In addition it brings a lot of other things like augmented reality, NFC (doesn't appeal to me personally), and social stuff.

Bob Johnson
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I think you're right. Alot of regular game controller folks hated the wiimote. This time Nintendo went back to the standard controller and put a screen on it.

I think MS and Sony will copy it.

David Holmin
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You hit the nail on the head. The Wii U gamepad is a direct evolution of the current generation button controller. Not the completely new direction that WiiMote was. It does everything we're used to, and more. As for games to highlight it, I thought ZombiU looked pretty cool.

It's certainly something I can get behind, but I'm also one of the people Bob mentions that dislike motion controls. Regardless, I own a Wii, for the handful great games that play with regular controllers.

John Flush
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I disagree. They tried once to push having a GBA hook up to a GC. The barrier of entry was having it corded to the device. With the Wii they had the chance to break out with Wireless communication to the DS. I tried out quite a few DS games that way.

They have already tried this and failed. This time it is coming in the hardware at release, so it might have success... but still the problem is that the controller is a dumb terminal to the console. If they would have allowed the controller to act as a DS (more or less) and 3DS's act as additional controllers to the Wii U, and the Wii U could have just been the Server for LAN Play they would have had another winner - and sold a bunch of 3DS's in the process.

The fact they didn't even come up with that option seems like they totally missed the mark.

Geoff Yates
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I kinda liked the way the Wii U pad was utilised in ZombiU. ZombiU is their hidden sleeper for moving systems.

Nintendo is trying to make the Wii U appeal to a multitude of folks. The Wii U pro controller looked for all intents a 360 gamepad.

Their conference wasn't spectacular though and I think generated a fair bit of negativity. Personally I'm going to take a wait and see approach. Games like Pikmin don't interest me and Nintendo Land is simply aimed at casuals.

Fils is probably a really nice bloke but he irritates me no end. Nintendo hasn't learned anything they still releasing a system with out a single AAA title.

Merc Hoffner
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@ Cameron King

They made almost no point of it, but there was a very brief and short snippet that gave me some hope. In the extended demo video of the WiiU controller's functions (http://e3.nintendo.com/wiiu/ - around 3:25) when you press the TV button it accesses the TV controls complete with soft keys and presumably programmable IR comms for cross television compatibility. What's significant is that it works even if the WiiU is switched off, indicating that some level of processing and even memory is happening on the controller itself.

I expect REALLY simple games (and apps) like go, checkers, tetris etc. would be possible. If they can put even very basic stuff like a calendar clock, check lists and notes, a drawing app, news and weather feeds, calculator etc, then it could be really transformative.

Patrick Davis
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@Geoff Yates

The Wii U is launching with New Super Mario Bros. U. I'd say that's a guaranteed system seller if any.

Jeferson Soler
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@ Patrick Davis - And don't forget Pikmin 3 (which Nintendo should have kept it for last on E3, in my opinion). That game definitely doesn't look like a minor game (at least, it doesn't to me).

Now, about the Wii Remote, I actually like the controller and enjoyed some of the games that required motion control (especially Red Steel 2 and The Conduit series just to name a few). Having said that, Kevin Fisk does bring up couple great points about the Wii U Gamepad and I agree with him about the Wii U Gamepad. The Wii Remote was intended to take gaming and gaming experience in a new direction and to a whole new level, while the Wii U Gamepad is the next step/evolution to a "traditional" gamepad. There is a lot of potential for the Wii U Gamepad thanks to the tech that it carries.

Merc Hoffner
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@Techni

GBA link cable? DS? Heck, VMU?

Merc Hoffner
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@ Bob - I don't think they'll be able to afford it.

Joe McGinn
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I honestly believe that even Nintendo doesn't know who this console is targeted at. Their messaging is simply incoherent.


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