Xavier Poix, managing director of Ubisoft’s Annecy, Montpellier, and Paris studios, has told Gamespot that he believes the slow start of the Wii U is caused by the fact that the overall message of the console is difficult to convey to consumers, unlike the original Wii console. Poix also believes that it’s technology like Microsoft’s SmartGlass application that will lead the way in the area of interconnectivity and multi-screen experiences.
“The depth of what you can do with that console is really hard to get across unless you play with it. It’s different from the Wii, where seeing was believing. With the Wii U, people really need to experience it.”
“The whole idea of the asymmetrical gameplay and using two screens to do two very different things is not simple to explain to people. ZombiU was designed to be a game for core players launching with a new Nintendo console. We should have communicated better in this respect to let people know what kind of experience to expect. It wasn’t obvious enough that there would be a new controller and new gameplay and a new skill set to develop.”
“We are at a new start in the industry, a moment where gaming is no longer just for geeks. We have consoles like the Wii to thank for that, and the rise in mobile gaming. It’s all leading towards interconnectivity. What will you do on your phone in the future will impact what you do on your console back home, and so on. There will be different applications for different devices.”
“You’ve got a new toy to play with, and for the first time you need to think differently. It’s hard to achieve but it’s the best moment.”
Darksider’s II lead designer Haydn Dalton was asked about whether he thinks the Wii U GamePad is innovative compared to Microsoft’s SmartGlass. Dalton says that although Nintendo’s competition is making the Wii U GamePad seem less innovative, Nintendo are masters at making full use of their hardware. Dalton likes how Nintendo use their technology in ways that force players to physically interact with it in different ways.
Do you think having the screen on the Wii U GamePad really innovates as much as things like the analogue stick did? Now you’ve got Microsoft looking at SmartGlass, and you’ve got the competition competing directly with Nintendo’s innovation.
Haydn Dalton: “It does make it more difficult now, definitely. Because other people are doing more. They’re doing peripherals that can be added to existing or even more advanced technologies, whereas who knows what the Nintendo guys are doing. The thing that Nintendo are absolute masters at is that they harness their hardware like nobody else.”
“If you look at any of their titles where they’re using the touch screens on the NDSs and things like that, they use it in beautiful and creative ways that make you think as a designer and a game player. They’ve given me something that I couldn’t get anywhere else. Just simple things like finding something with dust on it and having to blow onto the screen to reveal what’s written. It’s just really simple things like that but they’ve used their technology in a unique way and forced the player to physically interact with it in a different way. There’s a magic about that. I only get that magic a lot when I’m playing Nintendo games.”
Charlie Scibetta, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Nintendo of America has taken a slight dig at Microsoft’s forthcoming SmartGlass peripheral for the Xbox 360. Scibetta claims that Nintendo’s tablet controller is better due to it being firmly integrated with the system, rather than an additional accessory.
“We like our solution because it’s integrated. You know it’s going to work. It’s not adding something on that you think might work. When you pick up the (Wii U) GamePad, you know there’s not going to be any kind of learning curve in terms of trying to configure it.”
Cam Weber, EA’s general manager of American football has revealed that the firm is fully embracing Xbox SmartGlass. Weber says that firm will basically use the Wii U to test out exactly what works and what doesn’t work on a tablet device.
“Conceptually we look at it in the same kind of way,” Weber said, of SmartGlass and Wii U’s tablet. “I think our designers are trying to solve problems around, ‘How do you take advantage of the smart glass, on either device, and what kind of functionality does that unlock? And I think it’ll benefit both.”
“To be more specific, we have Wii U in development now [for Madden], we’ll learn from it and it’ll take us further in terms of delivering on the SmartGlass.”
EA Labels boss Frank Gibeau has revealed that he’s extremely enthusiastic about Microsoft’s SmartGlass. Gibeau believes that Microsoft’s Xbox tablet companion is a brilliant device and he thinks that it seriously puts pressure on Nintendo with Wii U.
“We love SmartGlass. I think it’s a killer initiative. I really like it a lot. It ties into what we’re trying to do as a company. What we’re trying to do as a developer of games is – we’re looking at multi-screen environments as being really key in what’s happening in gaming. You play games on your mobile. You play games on your PC. You play games on your console. So giving people more access points through multiple screens is a great thing.”
“It does definitely put positioning pressure on Nintendo because you don’t have to buy a new system. Most likely, you already have a smartphone and you already have a 360, so it does a really good job of positioning for the platform and we’re very excited about it.”
During an investor meeting, Satoru Iwata talked about competitors and their approaches to Wii U. While Nintendo of America’s Scott Moffitt is flattered by Xbox SmartGlass, Iwata believes that Microsoft’s new feature is not capable of delivering the same experiences as Wii U. Iwata believes that the Wii U GamePad has an advantage over SmartGlass because, not only does it have a screen similar to tablets and smartphones, it has all the features of a traditional video game controller.
“The question is, is what they [Microsoft] are offering truly capable of doing everything that we’re offering? From what we have seen so far, it looks to us as if what they are able to offer really is only a small facet of what the Wii U is capable of.”
“We know that the core users who love playing video games like controllers that you hold with two hands. But what you don’t have on smartphones and tablets are the buttons and the control sticks that they prefer to use.”
“Previously after we’d introduced motion control, it took the other companies about three years before they introduced their own style of motion control.”
“This time, the fact is that we’ve seen something of this nature come out within a one-year time frame from when we first announced the Wii U. That suggests to me that they clearly see value in what we’re trying to do.”
Obviously Microsoft is going to prefer their product over a competitor’s product but are their reasons sufficient? Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing officer for Microsoft’s game business, thinks that SmartGlass is better than Wii U because you can use a wide variety of devices to connect with the Xbox 360, while Wii U is limited to its controller. Mehdi also thinks that the Wii U GamePad will not work well because you have to look at its screen and the TV screen in order to play games.
“In other cases, when you do want to have cross-screen sharing, that’s where I believe this approach [SmartGlass] is actually better, because what we’re doing is embracing it as truly a supporting screen,” said Mehdi.
“Not as the thing you should be looking at. Therefore, it needs to light up, it needs to notify you, it needs to actually provide content that’s relevant in that example. So I feel pretty good about that. I certainly don’t think there are any latency issues there. You can use any device for control, for tabbing, for browsing, for watching movies. It’s got a richer platform for things.”