Report: Developers Working With ‘Underclocked’ Wii U Hardware

Report: Developers Working With ‘Underclocked’ Wii U Hardware
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There’s a good reason that Nintendo showed off video game footage culled from the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of third-party games, not the Wii U, at last week’s E3 unveiling of the console. According to a new report, Wii U games just weren’t looking so hot on current hardware.

Not surprising, given that the console isn’t due until next year, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime’s explanation for the lack of actual Wii U footage from third-party developers. According to a Wii U white paper published by Hit Detection, the consulting company founded by former Newsweek journalist N’Gai Croal, the kits in developers’ hands are just not up to current-gen snuff, but they are working.

From the report:

Developers have underclocked development kits, and worked hard to deliver titles running on that hardware to demonstrate live at E3. However, due to titles not looking much better than what is currently available on Xbox 360 and the PS3, Nintendo decided late in the game to not show those titles and focus instead on tech demos. In particular, THQ stated that Darksiders II was running on development hardware and could have been shown. Also, Epic vice president Mark Rein tweeted during E3 that Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines was being made for Wii U with Unreal Engine 3, showing that Epic is bringing its tech to Wii U.

Fortunately, additional developer feedback implies that the Wii U is at least more powerful than the PS3 and 360, perhaps 50 per cent or more, based on estimates. It’s potentially promising for Nintendo fans that some third party games may look close or on par with current console competition at this stage of development.

Given Nintendo’s hesitation in revealing final hardware specifications for the Wii U, we’ll just have to wait and see what the system is capable of as we get closer to its 2012 launch.


  • Nintendo is smart and always no what they are doing. I am still confident that the Wii U will be way more powerful then the 360 and PS3. I will still be buying one at launch.

    • You would hope it would be more powerful than technology as dated as that (5 and six years old for the 360 and PS3 respectively). And sorry, but I think Nintendo do NOT know what they are doing and, subsequently, have lost the plot a bit lately. The 3DS is an underpowered, overpriced handheld, with its main feature being a gimmick to many people and it has very few notable games 4 months after launch. They still seem to be targeting the younger generations and ignoring the fact that the average age of a gamer is rising.

      /rant 😉

  • Not looking much better means its on par or equal too.. Hardly a shock considering the development time they have had so far. I think we will be surprised next year. I will be getting one on release to replace my dead 360… RIP.

  • It would have to be a little more powerful than a PS3 wouldn’t it?? Why would the graphics company give Nintendo 6 year old hardware for the new system? I don’t know if it’ll be 50% more powerful, but surely 6 years of development will count for something…

  • Anyone else worried that the console will launch in the next 18mths (or as early as 11 mths) and they haven’t locked down the specs?

    Perhaps the architecture of the hardware might not change (or a lot), but I actually worry for the launch games of the device if the developers aren’t using the final specs at this point. It just screams like they will be substandard.

    • Yes, I am worried also.
      The bad Wii U news just keeps on keeping on.

      Nintendo says it will launch between April 1st and Dec 31st 2012.

      That gives them only 10-17 months to fix all the problems:

      1. Not being able to use more than 1 new pad at once.
      2. Not being able to play on your new pad in another room of the house (must be in the same room as the console).
      3. Designing, sourcing and building modern, secure, online infrastructure, online store, online services, and getting the detail to their development partners.
      4. Finalising the specs of the hardware itself and getting this to their development partners in the form of real deal development kits.
      5. Designing and programming some Next-Gen HD games for the thing, including multiplayer, online & streaming functions for these games.
      6. Convincing, somehow, the Activisions, Capcoms, Konamis etc to get on board and support them with games, and not just gamecube graphics games, but actual new HD games. Why would anyone spend money developing on a new console with a tiny userbase when it would likely be much faster to make a game for 360 & PS3 (at the same time) -No new hardware to figure out, complete libraries, established middleware, established game engines, established experienced dev teams, harware specs are not constantly changing, an established additional revenue stream via PSN & Live for future downloaded content, no new touch screen to program features for, etc!).
      7. Combating the never ending bad news leeks that by default become THE Wii U story by going on the offensive and actively addressing the issues, and importantly, making an effort to court the hardcore gamers who are quickly going from disapointed to having no interest in the thing.
      Where is Nintendo PR person? Did she/he/it quit before E3 after having some sort of depressive episode? They need someone to get the worldwide PR teams together -like Voltron damn it! That and a Space World type marketing blitz of; final hardware, actual games on demo, release dates and prices, listing all of the worlds top publishers working on games (not just a few!) -everything an E3 should have been only a year and a half out from launch.

      Or just can this project and make Iwata resign!

      hail Miyamoto san! *salutes*

      • This is a good example of overthinking!
        Well when Im playing WiiU next year I guess you guys will be moaning about every little thing about it!
        Enjoy that;)

      • I dunno why people care soo much about there being only one pad. Just keep the pad for yourself and get everyone else to play with wiimotes. Were you really surprised that you couldnt all have your own little handheld??

        • It’s not a hand held -Iwata even told you that at e3 -weren’t you paying attention to what your dear leader was saying?
          It’s the default controller fot the new Wii U games.
          And yes.
          This is the first console since the 1980s with no multiplayer with the standard pads!!!
          Anyone who thinks that isn’t an issue is a total fanboy apologist for nintendo.

          • Why should Nintendo do what everyone has been doing since 1980?

            Nintendo like to change things and change the rules, its why they have been such a successful company even against the juggernauts of sony and microsoft.

            Besides FIVE, thats right FIVE people can play on the Wii U, thats one more then what is possible on any other console available. That Fifth person can be given a completely different role in the game. For example like a dungeon keeper in an RPG type local multiplayer. Or like a 4 vs 1 type senario. many more im sure. Thats new possibilities right there for developers to explore.

            Everyone knows that the console supports 4 other Wii controllers ontop of the Wii U controller. There is no problem in playing split screen multiplayer like any other console. Have one Wii U controller, one has a Classic Controller/Wiimote, the Screen on the controller doesnt have to be active. Everyone gets the same deal. Just like on a ps3 or xbox360. If you want more add 2 more controllers, you have 4. See simple. I know your looking hard for issues, and i agree it would be nice if 2 Wii U controllers was possible but the console is by no means being disadvantaged by 1 Wii U Controller support.

      • 1. They could do it, but have stated that they are worried about the cost of the new controller turning off players: Imagine of you bought the latest great game to play with friends/family only to discover you have to buy a second screen controller, which I wouldn’t be surprised to see costing over a hundred dollars.
        2. “Bawww I’m getting a chocolate milkshake, but it doesn’t come with a jetpack included.” Seriously, are you complaining that a new functionality is NOT needlessly powerful? Were you complaining when you found out that the Kinect couldn’t actually make you a coffee on command?
        3. So normal procedures for any game company are “troubles” when it comes to Nintendo?
        4. This could have been included in #3 buy I guess that would have made the list shorter, and such generate less panic.
        5. Who says they haven’t started working in games yet? They just had nothing to show yet which is fine. It’s not like the people working in the hardware department are the same working in software and they have precious little time to divide between their tasks. 3rd party companies already have prototype dev kits and are already working in games. All what this means is that the first games for the console will come short of showing its full potential… as it happens with every single console?
        6. Uh? Have you actually been following the news? The companies have already jumped on the bandwagon, they need not convincing and in fact they are the ones who have been touting that the Wii U is more powerful than the overly careful official statements by Nintendo let up.
        7. Apparently you thought this was a bad “leek” (sic)? Read again, this release means that the final Wii U will be much more powerful than the PS3-like demos that were shown.

  • I’ve always had tremendous respect for Nintendo because of their innovative tendencies, but I have to say, it’s getting harder and harder to be a supporter. I got a Wii the first day it came out expecting it to reinvent video games…but my Wii gets sooooo much less use than my PS3. And frankly, I’m so f***ing sick of playing Zelda, Mario, and Metroid. These are the only assured winners that one can expect from Nintendo (face it, the majority of third party games on the Wii were somewhere between not-too-good and awful…not ALL of them, but a striking percentage of them were terrible).

    Here’s a rhetorical question that captures pretty well another of my aversions to Nintendo’s products lately: what is a more profound/important experience to you? Going out with a couple friends to play some croquet/golf/any lighthearted sport, or reading a provocative piece of literature (say, Hamlet). Answers will vary. I personally would choose the second option. Light competitive activities are fun, but they’re not “moving” to me. And this is where I part ways with Nintendo (at least for now). There are no compelling adult games on Nintendo consoles. Even Zelda’s stories are told through dialogue that is simplistic and unchallenging (and the story itself never boasts a tremendous amount of depth either.)

    Nintendo has its place, and I respect them for having had such a heavy hand in giving the industry its vitality. But, they just don’t do it for me anymore…at all. Maybe it will change with this console…it will be the first one I don’t waste my money on right away though. They’re on probation as far as I’m concerned. I’ll buy one if they can prove themselves.

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