Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
We Really, Really Don't Need New Consoles

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 23 Apr 2013 12:00
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So, the Wii U's been out for a few months now, and how do we think it's been doing? What do you think would be the best word to sum up its performance? I'm fond of "shoddy", myself, unless I'm allowed to make up words, in which case I've been working on some new compound swears that might fit the bill. How about "knobtwaddle"?

The main problem has been the old classic: not enough games. A handful of late ports and even fewer third-party exclusives. In itself, not an insurmountable problem, there just needs to be more games, right? Nintendo just has to get cracking on the usual stable of hot apps, like a new Zelda, possibly a Metroid, and a 3D Mario platformer that isn't a hoary retread of concepts from previous Mario games. Good fucking luck with that.

Of course, you can't be expected to first-party your console's entire library, that way madness lies. The lack of games is just a symptom of the root problem: The Wii U is proving unattractive to third-party developers. That could be for several reasons. It could be, as I've always felt, that the screen controller arrangement is just too obnoxious a gimmick to have to work with. Or it could be that Nintendo is just too obnoxious a company to have to work with.

Whatever the case, what lessons can Sony and Microsoft take on board from how their rival has fared, as they prepare to make their moves into the next console generation? Well, there's one immediately apparent lesson: Don't start a new fucking console generation, because it's a bad climate and triple-A gaming is becoming too fat and toxic to support its own weight. If you make triple-A games even more expensive and troublesome to develop - not to mention forcing them to adhere to online and hardware gimmicks that shrink and alienate the potential audience even further - then you will be driving the Titanic smack into another iceberg in the hope that it'll somehow freeze shut the hole the first one made.

But it's a bit late to heed that lesson, now that the PS4 and whatever they end up calling the Xbox Another One are already full steam ahead. What else can the Wii U teach us? That going all-in on new hardware concepts, like a poker player hoping everyone else's hands are as bad as theirs, is nothing but an illusion of novelty that will in no way make up for alienating audiences and developers. That there is no substitute for a solid bedrock of good games, their creation unhindered by any obligation to support a console's bad ideas.

And we already know from what little has dribbled out that the new consoles aren't going to learn from those lessons. Honestly, it's like watching the first of three roped-together blind people step off a cliff. Except the other two aren't blind, and have merely put their hands over their ears. And are loudly singing songs about what a lovely time everyone's going to have when they've all been dashed upon the rocks below. And the one thing that the Wii U does right - backwards compatibility - seems to be the first thing everyone wants to fling from the hot air balloon.

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