The Thursday Debate: Is the Wii U a true next generation console?

Written by: / / 11 Comments

Welcome to The Thursday Debate on El33tonline! Every week, we’ll be focussing on a single topic of discussion and debating both sides of the story before asking you to weigh in on the subject at hand.

This week, Oliver and Tom talk about the next generation merits of Nintendo’s Wii U and try to come to a consensus regarding its status as a direct competitor to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Read our arguments below and let us know what you think of the latest topic of debate.


Oliver’s Case

The Wii U is a true next-gen console

“What exactly is a ‘next-gen’ console? Is that status determined purely by a gaming machine’s technological prowess relative to the ‘previous generation?’ Of course not.

Included on Wikipedia’s page about Eighth Generation videogame consoles alongside the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the Wii U is a true next generation platform simply owing to the fact that Nintendo is a forward-looking company that is never content to follow the beaten path and do what’s expected, devoting itself to the next new way to entertain its audiences instead of worrying about competing directly with Sony and Microsoft.

Nintendo is currently using the Wii U as a platform to experiment with new, next generation methods of delivering games online while offering different pricing bundles most recently seen with Wii Sports Club where you’re able to buy or even rent one or all portions of the game, as well as incentives like offering the full version of Wii Fit U for free as a trial.

As retail prices remain high, both of these game delivery methods are expected to be adopted by more and more publishers in the future to provide more choice to customers, except Nintendo is the first major platform holder and publisher to offer this choice on such a large scale.”


– The Nintendo Wii U GamePad

“Considering that the Wii popularised the idea of motion gaming and set the trend for Sony and Microsoft to follow, the Wii U’s GamePad similarly allows for a wider variety of ways to play games and a greater potential for the range of experiences developers can create out-of-the-box. Despite the fact that so-called ‘second screen’ gaming only became a major talking point at E3 in June 2013, the Wii U has had this next generation functionality built in since launch at the end of 2012 allowing developers to display extra features on the GamePad in the same way that Battlefield 4, Assassin’s Creed IV, Dead Rising 3 and Watch Dogs will do on PS4 and Xbox One a year later, except using an additional tablet or smartphone.

The Wii U GamePad also enables a very different brand of co-operative and competitive local multiplayer gaming perfect for friends and family to have fun together, best demonstrated with Nintendo Land last year – the battle for the living room is just as important in the next-gen as before especially considering Microsoft will specifically continue to chase this audience with Kinect 2.0 and Xbox One in 2013 following Nintendo’s lead.

With the Wii U, Nintendo is also leading the way in making gaming social in new and exciting ways with features like the Wii U Miiverse which not only allows you to easily join communities dedicated to your favourite games on the console, but also share your thoughts and quickly post up screenshots of your favourite moments and areas where you’re having difficulties, to which the community will rapidly respond to help you out – a headline feature of both the PS4 and Xbox One.

As Nintendo continues to offer forward thinking features, game delivery methods and experiences that Sony and Microsoft will only attempt to match with the PS4 and Xbox One, the Wii U is currently the only true next generation console on the market.”

Rebuttal: Pending

Do you have a good response to Oliver’s argument for the Wii U being a true next-gen console? Let your opinion be known in the comments and we’ll pick the best response as an official rebuttal here.

Tom’s Case

The Wii U is not a true next-gen console

“The Wii U may sit alongside the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in terms of being classified as part of the eighth console generation but Nintendo’s latest system is far from being a true next generation console. This is not surprising given that Nintendo is essentially a generation behind in the console race due to the Wii only offering an incremental upgrade over the GameCube in terms of hardware specifications, despite offering gamers a new way to play with its motion-based controller.

The Wii U uses AMD technology just like the PS4 and Xbox One but its GPU and CPU pale in comparison to the other next-gen systems, and its 2GB of RAM is only a quarter of what Sony and Microsoft’s machines boast. This effectively means that the Wii U won’t be able to run the next-gen versions of games like NBA 2K14 and Battlefield 4 which puts a serious dent in claims that it’s a true next-gen console.

Different people will equate the concept of next-gen games with different types of experiences, but for me it means more immersive and complex worlds that create the illusion of actually being there. We are still a few years away from seeing what the next-gen systems from Sony and Microsoft are truly capable of but I believe that over time the gap between the type of gameplay experiences that these consoles can offer compared to the Wii U will only grow more disparate.”


– inFamous: Second Son on PlayStation 4

“Online multiplayer is also going to be a huge part of the next-gen experience and Nintendo’s network infrastructure doesn’t inspire much confidence in this regard. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Wii U is the only eighth generation console that doesn’t have an Ethernet port built into the system. Clearly giving its consumers the best possible online experience is not particularly high on Nintendo’s list when it comes to the Wii U.

Many Wii U fans tout the system’s second-screen functionality as one of the features that make it a true next-gen console, but as I discussed in a related Monday Musings post, few titles for the system make mandatory use of the GamePad’s second-screen functionality since this would rule out Off-TV Play which condenses the game onto a single screen.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Wii U will serve up some of the best games of the eighth console generation but when I think of the type of titles I want from Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen systems it’s indubitable that the Wii U lacks the basic hardware features that would make these true next-gen games viable on Nintendo’s platform.”

Rebuttal: Pending

Do you have a good response to Tom’s argument against the Wii U being a true next-gen console? Let your opinion be known in the comments and we’ll pick the best response as an official rebuttal here.

Do you think the Wii U is a justifiable next generation console?

Would you like to suggest a future Thursday Debate topic? You can send it through to oliver[@]el33tonline[dot]com and we’ll do our best to fairly represent both sides of the argument.

Tags: , , ,