Wii U Marks 'the End Of An Era,' Says Pong's Creator

Nolan Bushnell, the man behind Pong and Atari's first home video game console, says he doesn't get the attraction of the Wii U. "I actually am baffled by it," he told The New York Times for a weekend feature. "I don't think it's going to be a big success."

What's more, Bushnell doesn't think the Wii U dawns a new gaming console generation as much as it closes down an era in which consoles are video gaming's dominant force. "It feels like the end of an era to me."

The Times, in an attempt to capture the news of the Wii U's debut week, goes off on a stretch of futurecasting that positions mobile gaming as the doom-bringer to console hardware. Anecdotes present lids with console hardware in the living room, yet fooling around on iPads because the games load more quickly. Nintendo's abstinence from developing for smartphones and tablets is portrayed as potentially fatal not just to that company, but to the console business it has defined for more than 25 years. Traditional games' prices are presented as too steep next to mobile games', even considering the cheapness of free-to-play modes.

I don't think the Wii U heralds a renaissance for Nintendo or for console gaming; the company simply waited too long to deliver a high-definition alternative but, to its credit, didn't create one just for the sake of cannibalising its own product line. Nor do I think it's too late to the party. The GamePad and the Miiverse may look like copies of tablet hardware and social networking but it's not to say they don't have potential to deliver new experiences.

But saying the Wii U shuts the door on an era of video gaming, when we're all but assured of a new console — perhaps two, in the coming calendar year — seems a bit of a stretch. Mobile may be pinching console gaming with its ridiculously low price points, but the 99-cent expectation it sets also crimps developers are willing to make and publishers are willing to fund, too. Facebook gaming is a tremendously disposable experience. Nintendo may have recently posted its first loss ever as a video games company, but it's not like Zynga is tonning it right now.

Nintendo Confronts a Changed Video Game World [The New York Times]

(Image by Getty)


    Has there even truely been an "era" where consoles were the dominant force? I mean, for many periods the console was dominant in regions, but only recently has it become global.

    EG, the whole reason why europe avoided the video game crash is that places that developed games were doing so on home computer platforms. Not to mention that PC gaming has only really declined in recent years, meaning that console being the major force for games on an almost global scale is actually quite recent.

      Hasn't it been reported that PC Gaming is actually doing pretty great these days?

        Yeah, at least once or nine times on every 360 vs. PS3 comparison video by the PC readers of Kotaku.

          Can I just say I'm sick of people saying mobile and pc gaming are a good thing or that mobile is the future, I don't think any of them are going to allow me to lounge around and play Halo or Forza or uhhh whatever is on my ps3 I dont actually care much for, let's just say little big planet... with a decent working headset (excludes ps3) and yell at my mates for being shit at life... no I don't think angry birds or WoW live up to those standards thanks

            The mobile part I agree but arguing about PC like that is just stupid. all modern consoles are, are small PC's (actually small outdated PC's).

            With a modern PC you can already play 80-90% of console games (usually with much better graphics + modding support, not to mention a lower price), Moniters already have higher resolutions then TV's (which means a clearer sharper image) and can come in some pretty crazy sizes.
            BUT if you really want to 'lounge around' you can hook your PC up to the TV, plug in a wireless controller and go crazy. Soo...how is PC shit again? oh right right because they don't own LBP...just give it time...I'm a huge Sony fan but 10 maybe 20 years tops I'd bet anything Sony won't be in the console business (perhaps still in the games business though).

              Exactly. The PC can do everything the console can and more. The only argument that anyone can make against PC is no exclusives come out on the PC (well mostly). If you want to play an FPS, mouse/keyboard, want to play a third person hack'n'slash, stick in a controller. If anything, PC is only going to get larger, as consoles are losing the console charm and just becoming heavily locked down computers.

                Wow, and like that all my misgivings about PC gaming are gone! You've done it, you've converted me and likely all other people who enjoy stress free gaming experiences to your cause. Now those pesky publishers will see there's actually more than 12 guys playing their game legitimately at a time and will turn their efforts towards the almighty PERSONAL COMPUTER SYSTEM.

                The advantage of the console is for the developer not for the player. As for mobile, it wont be very many generations away that my tablet can just airplay to my tv, bluetooth connect a controller, and be more powerful than the current gen ps or xbox, all with a store that actually supports indie devs. Bring it on! :)

            WoW is the only PC game. Congratulations on winning that argument.

            Take solace in that you're at least right about mobile gaming not being all that and a bag of crisps.

      I would go on a stretch and say the Late 80s and Early 90s was the golden era of consoles. PCs were too pricey for the average person and the NES and SEGA line ups were great.

    I think the WiiU is really freaing stupid, and I'm waiting for Bayonetta 2 or Pikmin to come out before I get one, but I don't think it'll flop. Zynga is a prime example of how shallow gaming won't persist. Or Angry Birds, Rovio is clearly making all it's money from licensing deals for figurines and toys than the actual games, Angry Birds 1 still outsells all the other Angry Birds games, which can't be good for the game developing side of things.

    people also thought the Wii Would flop......

      Fool us once...

        Thats what people get when they buy into hype alone and dont do the research or know what they want. There are many of us that knew what we were getting with the Wii and were very happy with the console. Dont expect sympathy because some people are easily fooled...

        Last edited 27/11/12 10:28 am

    It feels like Nintendo forgot to pay the journos this year, so much hate for the WiiU - so many so called industry experts putting in their 2 cents about how nintendo have lost it and the console will flop. I can't help but root for Nintendo as the underdog now, heck its a cheap console - and at least they innovate and try to bring some fun to games instead of just FPS and racing games with incremental improvements.
    It's half the price of the PS3 at launch people, you're not going to get Audi performance with a corolla price tag

    Of course one would be wise to listen to a guy from Atari about the future of gaming. I mean, Atari have got such a rich history of being in front of the game and succeeding in a touh market.

    Oh wait.......no they don't.

    Bushnell just butthurt that Nintendo took away Atari video gaming dominance 25 years ago

    “I actually am baffled by it,” he told The New York Times for a weekend feature. “I don’t think it’s going to be a big success.”

    And i am sure someone would have said the same thing around the time the original Atari came out as well.

    People just need to stop looking into crystal balls and trying to predict negative things for Nintendo's future, just let Nintendo do what they are going to do and we will see how it turns out.

    I stopped taking this article seriously when i saw the words "mobile gaming" and "ipad".

      Coz true mobile gaming requires modding your phone to emulate consoles ;)

        kind of like true off-road driving means taking a sports car and modding it with giant springs and wheels :P

          Hoorah! Or just pick up an old shitbox and rally-pack it till the wheels fall off, and the muffler is "back there" somewhere :P

          Last edited 27/11/12 10:56 am

    I stopped taking the article seriously after reading the title. AL ACORN CREATED PONG!

      I'm so glad I'm not the first person to point this out. What the hell, Kotaku?

    AR and immersion gaming is the future, unfortunately Mobile platforms will claim it as a win for their side (google glasses etc) when it happens because a lot of games will require you to move about a real space or play in an open street. They do forget that the best games will be in a chair with a good headset and a PC or a 'console' which really is just a closed platform PC.

    Haters gonna hate LOL

    Bushnell, stop waving your walking stick around go inside and have an cup of tea - you're getting yourself all fired up over nothing :P

    Nolan Bushnell is the founder of Atari, not the creator of Pong.

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