Nintendo is reportedly struggling to get its Wii U hardware to work properly. But is this the normal development issues or something inherently more serious?
Hardware manufacture is a fine art but not an exact science. Which is why companies can sometimes get it very, very right, and other times get it very, very wrong. In terms of games consoles, this tends to come in waves. Sony triumphed with the original Playstation and PS2, but has had to fight much harder to make the PS3 a success against the Wii and the Xbox 360.
Nintendo has had a good run, with the Wii and DS dominating the home and handheld markets for the past few years. But it’s struggling to up its game to the next level, with the 3DS not performing at all as expected, and the Wii U receiving a mixed reception upon its unveiling at E3 2011. And if reports from French site 01Net (via Kotaku) are to be believed, things are going from bad to worse.
A source claims Nintendo is experiencing multiple problems with the Wii U hardware. That the design architecture was “rushed out the door,” that the current chipset isn’t up to scratch, and that the wireless connection between the main console and the 6-inch touchscreen controller-come-tablet is so flaky that third-party developers are having to use tethered connections instead.
Nintendo is trying desperately to solve these issues, but daily firmware updates aren’t exactly helping the developers as they attempt to extract the best out of the hardware. Nintendo is clearly weighing up hardware costs vs. hardware performance, because the Wii has set a precedent for the company to offer a cheaper alternative than its rivals.
The ultimate upshot of this is likely to be the release date of the Wii U being pushed back from June 2012 to later in the year. Too late and the all-important holiday season could be missed, and Sony and Microsoft may also announce successors to the PS3 and Xbox 360 in the interim. Which would further hinder sales.