Opinion: Why We Need to Combine Innovation and Power

It seems like this year has seen a lot of focus of what’s coming next rather than what’s happening now. All year we seem to have been looking at the next gen and just what it will bring, which is perhaps understandable. Looking towards the future is always more exciting than making sense of what’s going on now, speculation is a lot more interesting than looking at simple facts; it’s the same reason why there’s so much interest in celebrity rumour and gossip.

Of course part of this speculation has come to an end with the arrival of the Wii U; we now have one of the three home consoles that will, in all likelihood, compose the next generation of TV gaming. There are certainly some who will argue that the Wii U doesn’t belong in the next generation of gaming but for the purposes of this article lets put that to the side and simply include the Wii U.

[drop2]Just like they did with the Wii, Nintendo have taken the stance that the Wii U doesn’t need to be packed full of horsepower to be a success, instead focusing on gameplay. This is one of the two approaches that you can take with new hardware, placing innovation and gameplay above simply packing in more computing power. Of course computing power can contribute to gameplay, improving AI and the realism of a world, but in general it seemed like the two routes were separate.

However, some of the rumours we’ve seen about the next Microsoft console do seem to suggest that the split that Nintendo had created had been sealed, with the next Xbox potentially having some augmented reality aspects in addition to the obvious Kinect improvements. Of course, more prominent than this is the PlayStation Vita.

Rumours so far imply that the PlayStation 4 will continue on the computing power route, but the Vita really appears to be the bridge between gameplay innovation and boosting the hardware performance. It’s clear that the Vita has some real graphical horsepower under the hood, but the almost ridiculous number of inputs that the system features has clearly introduced elements of innovation into portable gaming.

Of course many of these have been borrowed from the mobile gaming arena, and the DS has incorporated the same touch screen elements for many years now. However, I don’t think there’s been anything like the Vita before that so perfectly pulled together elements of innovation and power.

This, to me, seems like the obvious direction for the industry in the future. More power is great, and we all certainly enjoy improved graphics or more realistic worlds. However, without genuine innovation to couple with it what’s the point? It simply exists to make the games we already have look better or have more enemies in an encounter.

Obviously, it should be made clear that we can have innovation in gameplay without any innovation in hardware inputs and the like, titles like Journey make this abundantly clear. However, when you’ve got options like the Vita’s inputs or the Wii U’s GamePad it makes it easier to bring in new ideas and new ways of playing games. Really that seems like the best things for the future of gaming.



  1. I must admit, having been sceptical at first, the WiiU has surpassed my expectations already.

    New Super Mario Bros. U is great fun and beautiful to look at, Nintendo Land gives a glimpse of what the Gamepad can do and the design and feel of the pro controller is spot on.

    I picked up 5 games at launch and all of them handle way better than I expected. If Nintendo back this system up with the right games, they’ll have another runaway hit on their hands. I cannot wait for the next Zelda game, and it’s not even been announced yet.

  2. I would be quite happy to see home consoles die off and get replaced by more powerful handhelds like the Vita.

    Much nicer to play on something which isn’t chained to the TV and does offer more options in how to play.

    • I’d like to see the std ‘box under the tv’ be replaced by powerful handhelds that plugged into a ‘hub’ as it were, with a TV out on it, so you could continue playing on your TV at home.

      Not seen a lot on it, but the’new’ Neo-Geo portable does this, does it not?.

      Raw horse power alone is’nt going to ‘save’ gaming for myself, all the talk of Unreal 4 Eng, Cry3 Eng etc seem focused on things like vastly improved lighting, temp.effects and lens flare is now a talking point again?.

      I want to see developers grab the potential things like Wii U and Vita link up offer (but in Vita’s case that’d need Sony to lower price of console+m.cards and get the damn thing in peoples homes and make cross control free, rather than only avaiable on DLC).

      The Dreamcast VMU was a wonderous little device, but so few games used it, i had all of 1 game that used the PS3-PSP link up, Resistance and for that i needed the PSP Resistance game+PS3 Resistance 2 and had to be set up everytime system was switched back on.

      If Move is to become a serious control option, Sony has to sort out the need to calibrate before use, each time you change games etc.

      Motion control, touch screen, system link up, 3D etc etc, i’ve seen in various forms over the years, Sony alone rolled out some very impressive tech demo’s showing the potential useage of…but they (and others) seem to fail to turn potential into killer games.

      There must be enough lessons learnt and customer feedback by now to see what works, what does’nt, what the player wants etc?.

  3. The Wii U is awesome. If you’re moaning about third party ports, then clearly this is your first Nintendo console…

    The off-TV play is fantastic. A real game changer.

  4. I have been playing Gravity Rush recently and it’s just fantastic how pop in to first person, let the AR take direction and just fly whilst moving the Vita around in different ways. That is something the main consoles cannot do except for WiiU so I personally hope that Nintendo have re-defined the future of gaming in some fashion. Having the option to have TV or handheld mode is great.

    I admit solemnly that I was ignorant of the WiiU, thinking it just another wave your arms around the damn room, underpowered, expensive and technologically inept device. And more recently, last couple of months I have realised its actually a damn good console, but it also reminds me of where gaming is heading unfortunately.

    The price of its games are just another reminder that gaming is not getting cheaper and the economy not getting more lucrative. I have a Vita and it is the same issue, and so while I would love a WiiU I hope that with it being mainstream it will get a lot of attention and the market will be more attractive next year. I have nothing against the £250 – 300 price tag, considering the controller technology. But the games just aren’t worthy of a £45-50 tag. Not when games like AC3 get given one years dev time and a all-shit QA to go with it.

    • £45-50 games exist with every new console launch unfortunately. I still remember paying £59.99 for a copy of Rainbow Six Vegas on the PS3. Would have told HMV to go but I needed a copy that day for a LAN lol.
      Some of the games are starting to drop in price (Zavvi have most for under £42 now) and the upcming Rayman Legends is only £32. Its just retailers being greedy at first but they’ll start to drop their prices quite quickly if the 360/PS3 are anything to go by.

      • Actually all of the games I am aware of I have bought or seen for at least 39.99.

        Its just bloodsucking w***** like GAME who charge beyond what has become the informal average of retail prices.

        PS2 games were average at 29.99, PS3 games are average at 39.99.

        Same thing goes for the Vita. PSP games were averaging 19.99 – 29.99 for certain games, now 29.99 – 39.99 for most of the games, not all I know but the majority, yes.

  5. btw, I presume all games can be played without a television and the system set up without a TV right?

    I know ZombiU requires a TV but surely none of the other games do for all of Nintendo’s bragging about the feature.

    • So far I have played NSMBU, Tekken Tag, Nano Assault Neo and Sonic racing Transformed on the pad without the TV. I must admit that I prefer them on the TV, but it’s handy when someone else wants to use the TV.

  6. The Vita is fantastic, and with Nintendo once again changing the way we play, it’s going to be interesting to see what the others will have to offer. I personally hope for more cross play between the Ps4 and Vita, with a much improved remote play.

    With the Wii U I fear Nintendo has offered too many controllers, with the Gamepad, the Pro Controllers and Wiimotes. I wonder how well that’ll work out in the future?

  7. wii u really why wait till the threshold of the next next gen of console?
    within a year we will see the super duper mofo of consoles albeit from Microsoft or Sony
    *chuckles to himself*
    lets face it what more can the next next gen offer?
    no more than a high spec pc… smoothy gfx and visuals no more!
    game play will not change but may look more shiny

    • It depends how far the next-gen consoles are going, if its what rumours are suggesting then yeah, it will just be glossed over gaming.

      I doubt, although it is possible nevertheless, that 8-12 core systems might be introduced; In which case that would leave room for the Unreal Engine 4 amongst other engines which would blow the WiiU out of the water graphically.

      Despite that though, if that was the case it would be expensive, and I’d much rather have the unique gaming approach of the WiiU instead.

  8. I think both the Vita and the Wii U are excellent indicators of where gaming is going in general – implementing a range of inputs that cater for virtually every requirement.

    Fundamentally I think there’s a merging of traditional gaming with the expanded casual market, visible in the touchscreens and motion controls of the Vita and Wii U being placed alongside analogue sticks and shoulder buttons. This has to be seen as pure pragmatism by both companies who can’t afford to not cater to as many consumers as possible, particularly when there are now so many devices that are capable of gaming in one way or another.

    I think perhaps the only subset of the market which is yet to feel like its integral is Kinect’s full body motion control. The next Xbox is going to have to seriously improve on the inherent idea behind Kinect if it is going to become a genuinely attractive means of playing anything.

    My main hope is that these devices which are leading with innovation such as the Vita and Wii U are successful, and as such are able to give us new and exciting ways to experience gaming in the coming years.

  9. I really hope next gen isn’t all just motion control touch screen dual screen crap give me a controller/dualshock any day. :D

  10. It depends what you consider “next gen” I suppose. A lot of people disregarded the WiiU right away because it isn’t a graphical powerhouse – a statement that is a little unfair given its launch titles have been able to match the graphical quality of “last gen” consoles at the end of their lifecycle, but whatever.

    For me, the “next generation” of consoles need to actually change the way I play my games. Its because of this that I’m really enjoying my Wii-U, more so than I have any other console at launch since the PSOne. The gamepad is perfectly designed (light weight and comfortable to hold) and the touchscreen is nice and responsive. Even when not using the touchscreen, having that second screen there to show extra stuff like maps, movelists, etc or playing the whole game away from the TV is awesome.

    …plus it has Bowser in HD which is all kinds of win ;)

    • Think there is a need for a lot of ‘bridge-building’, in terms of things like Ps4/Xbox Next trying to convince people that motion control really is a key part of the ‘next-gen’ exp. they have to offer.

      Lot of my friends bought the Wii for thier girlfriends, only to see her get bored, they’d try a few Wii games themselves, then grow tired, it ended up boxed back up and packed away somewhere whilst they returned to MW2/Black Op’s etc.

      Or bought into Kinect or Move and waited for the Killer-apps to arrive-Visited a friend yesterday, who’d bought Move, enjoyed it for things like HOTD, KZ3, Heavy Rain (and i’ve just lent him Resistance 3+Golden Eye), but wonders where on earth the key games for it were.Patching in or adding the control option to games that played perfectly well with a std pad have made people wary of Move, same applied to friend who bought Kinect for Child Of Eden, after buying into the ‘better with Kinect’ adverts and stuck to playing with a pad.

      The novelty factor worn off for these guys and they’ll take a lot of convincing to buy into a second time.

      What ever innovations are put forward, they need to be backed up with games that are only made possible because of them, rather than being seen as somewhat gimmicky features tacked on.

      • Couldnt agree more. For the most part I hate motion controls because devs rarely take the concept and do something game-changing with it. There have been some exceptions – Skyward Sword worked really well, as did most light-gun games – but it always felt like the potential was there but wasn’t really met.
        The WiiU seems to have the best of both worlds, still supporting motion controls but also supporting “traditional” games via the new Gamepad and Pro Controller

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