The Wii U Debuts…at the Microsoft Conference?

Posted: June 4, 2012 by Jon Erik Christianson in Gamenomics - Video Games, Microsoft/Xbox, Nintendo
Tags: , , , ,

As a Nintendo fan, I was quite shocked to see the Wii U shown off at today’s E3 Microsoft press conference. Oh wait, the tablet you connect to your console to alter your gaming experience wasn’t the Wii U? It was Microsoft’s Xbox SmartGlass? Oh, well, excuse me.

Before I launch into what might be a full-scale rant, I do want to clarify my background. I am, ultimately, a Nintendo fan. I’ve been very disgruntled with their treatment of their fans over the past few years, but that doesn’t change the fact that my hood is somewhere between Pallet Town and Yoshi’s Island.

I have some background in non-Nintendo gaming, including with the Xbox 360. And truth be told, I don’t inherently dislike other publishers because I’m a Nintendo fan. In fact, over the past few years I’ve become really jealous over the gaming experiences Microsoft and Sony have given their fans.

That being said, I was kinda perturbed when I realized how similar SmartGlass was to the Wii U, especially considering they will likely be released around the same time. Follow me after the break.

Obviously companies have been ripping each other off for eons. It’s part of competition.

But a year after the Wii U was announced, and Microsoft is already turning around something to the Wii U that smells so similar. There are, however, differences.

Ways in Which the SmartGlass is Better

  • If you already have a tablet or smartphone, you’re all set.
  • It syncs to a lot more than just games.
  • It’s a simple add-on to a new system; not an entirely new console.
  • Fun features for when you’re watching a movie or show
  • Other stuff that I don’t remember

Ways in Which the SmartGlass is Worse

  • Requires you to own a tablet. I don’t really think the smartphone usage will improve the experience much.
  • Lacks many features of Wii U, including controls, camera, NFC reader, and more
  • I question how much appeal watching a movie/show basically on two screens has. If Game of Thrones dude is riding off on a horse, I’m more likely to watch the show than the map on my tablet.

At this time, there still isn’t much information on either the Wii U or the SmartGlass, so it’s difficult to compare.

Overall, there were two things about the presentation that offended me.

First, one of the presenters said something along the lines of “you have the TV, you have the smartphone, you have the tablet,” and continued on.

That’s a really ignorant statement to make. I go to school at a university where people are relatively well-off in regards to finances (that’s before tuition) and I would say a lot of people there have smartphones, but a strikingly small number of people actually own a “tablet” of some sort. They’re expensive (especially if you’re dropping big bucks on a gaming system + games + a smartphone) and relatively unnecessary for people who have a functioning laptop.

Sure, they’re fun, but they’re also extra-curricular.

It bothered me that they assume that everyone just happens to have all this stuff already.

Secondly, it is very clearly influenced by Nintendo’s Wii U.

As a long-time Nintendo fan, I can attest to the fact that it isn’t always easy being a Nintendo fan. Every console generation, the crazy Nintendo guys come out with something that a) almost always looks weird, b) is named something embarassing, c) and doesn’t always feel like something we need. Then, after much brooding, we get over it and play some awesome games.

Unfortunately, that almost always means there’s some very harsh and vocal people shouting from the Microsoft or Sony camps, sometimes even from professional video game news sites.

  • LOL IT’S CALLED THE ‘WII,’ YOU GOING TO GO PLAY WITH YOUR WII?”
  • “Kirby is so ghey.”
  • “Wtf? A tablet that hooks up to your computer? That’s stupid.”

Nasty people exist in all gaming communities, but it does feel like Nintendo gets the most crap.

So it’s extra-fascinating when the other companies release things that seem to be inspired by Nintendo’s zany nature. The Playstation Move Wand, anyone?

So if Nintendo’s ideas are so stupid, why are they always replicated within in a year or two’s time?

And now we have the Xbox SmartGlass, coming out in the exact same quarter (or earlier) than the Wii U will. I very well could be wrong and both companies “happened” to release similar products, but I just doubt it.

Nintendo, continue to do the weird things you do. Don’t get me wrong, I’d appreciate it if you hired people who could effectively name consoles, but otherwise, carry on.

Because I know, at the very least, you aren’t going to be bringing Usher out on stage during your press conference.

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