You know what you think of the Wii U. We know what we think of the Wii U. But what do game makers and game publishers, the people charged with actually working with the 2012 home console, think of the Wii U? At E3 this month Eurogamer asked them.
Frank Gibeau, president, EA Games:
We're big supporters of it. There's a lot of advances in processing and GPUs and also what's happening on the interface level and online, and we're very pleased Nintendo has come out with a machine that can do HD.
The controller is awesome. It's fantastic. I loved the golf ball on the ground. That was a great visual. Like Miyamoto said, it'll open up new ways to play games we haven't even discovered yet. We have to spend time with the hardware and start to bring designs over to see what works, how it works and what you can do.
You saw with Madden football, obviously there are lots of cool new things you can do, and with FIFA [it could control] the way you call plays. We are looking at the Battlefield experience to Wii U. Nothing specific to announce, but we've already started looking at how we're going to do that and what the features will be.
I believe it is [capable of reproducing PS3 and Xbox 360 visuals]. It certainly has the high-definition resolution. But it looks like it's definitely competitive. And it'll do some very unique things.
Danny Bilson, core games boss, THQ:
I loved it [when Nintendo presented the console to THQ]. I just thought, there's nothing but creative possibility. What can we do with that controller that'll give some unique experiences with our games, or how does it make some of our games we already have in development better?
I was very enamoured in that meeting , and I just remember sitting there having a bunch of ideas of what we could do with different things, and what kind of problems it solved with some games, or what opportunities it opened up.
I was also excited to have a third platform to make core games for. We haven't been making many Wii games in core. It really hasn't made sense for the last few years.
Then Brian Farrell [THQ CEO] said, 'I want to be there at launch this time. I don't want to come in late on this platform.' So we flew up the next week to Seattle and met with them. I took them through the first year of the launch of their Wii U and what we were making. They got really excited about what we were making. And then Darksiders II was a natural for it as a launch title because we were already tracking to around those time frames anyway. Metro is in there as well, and they wound up in the press conference. I thought we looked really good up there as far as quality goes.
Todd Hollenshead, co-owner and CEO, id Software:
Five year cycle for everybody, right? But apparently not any more. Nintendo is going inside the generation and there's no expectation that Microsoft or Sony are going to respond to this. That's unique, at least since I've been in the business since 1996.
Jason Leigh, Blue Castle Games co-founder and Off the Record executive producer, Capcom:
Touch-screen is here to stay. My kids are three and five years old. Even when my son was a year-and-a-half, he knew how to take the iPad and scroll to his apps and play his games. It's because it's so intuitive. It's no different than having a bunch of marbles on the table. It's something natural that people know how to bat them around and move them and shift them to where they need to go. It's cool they've integrated that.
Dave Grossman, design director, Telltale Games:
I saw a picture of it and it looked kind of big and weird but then I talked to someone who actually put their hands on it and they said, 'No, no, it's light and seems cool,' so... It's either genius, or it's crazy, or it's both. I don't know. I do like the idea of the touch-screen in the middle as that basically means you can reconfigure the controls of your game to be whatever you want. From a development standpoint that's pretty neat.
Hiroyuki Kobayashi, producer, Devil May Cry 4, Dragon's Dogma, Capcom:
It's hard to know how the market is going to react. I think the potential is there. The fact that we now have a high definition system from Nintendo means that developers are now going to be interested in putting out games for that system. How it's going to play out though is anyone's guess.
Michel Ancel, creator of Rayman and Beyond Good & Evil, Ubisoft:
I think it's really cool because I just see opportunities. New things to do, fewer constraints, more freedom to surprise the player. That's why we make games. We want to surprise gamers, to make them say, ah, I can do that now without hundreds of buttons. There's the touch-screen, I can maybe handle my inventory or have an alternative visual. But at the same time you still have the two analogues so you can still control the game the way you like. You have choices. I like this idea of choices.
Nintendo, for some time, was more like, 'We have one direction, follow us.' Now it's more, 'We have all these directions, do what you need to do.' Making games is hard if you have too much constraint on top of making games it's much more difficult. I think there is a big ambition behind [the Wii U] and we will follow Nintendo to succeed in this because we have the feeling that it's the right direction.
David Jaffe, Twisted Metal director, Eat Sleep Play:
I've given up fortune-telling in this industry because this is a wonderful industry of constant disruption. Because of the internet and how you can direct-market to people who love exactly what you're doing, the whole industry has changed, whether you're talking about a free-to-play iPhone game or a $80 million PS3 exclusive. I just don't know what's going to hit me more. I don't think that you can do anything except look at something like the Vita or Wii U and appreciate the creativity and the passion.
In terms of 'is it going to be the next big thing', I don't know. I've been right a lot of times, I've been wrong a lot of times. I thought PSP was going to kick the crap out of the DS. The PSP did well but it didn't do anywhere near as well as the DS. When I first saw Ridge Racer on the PSP, I was like, 'Whoa, game over. If I was Nintendo I'd just go home.' And they proved me wrong a million times with that thing.
I never get excited about stuff like that. I get excited eventually over mechanics, but I get excited about the voice of the product first the spirit, the essence of what it is - and then I kind of go, 'What out there exists that I can best communicate that with?' So I don't look at that and go, 'Oh my god, I have an idea for an adventure game.' I don't work that way as a designer. I start with more of a surface concept or emotion and then I drill down to where I can best present that emotion.
Yeah, I could probably do some really cool stuff with it. The same with Move, the same with Kinect. But I don't really care so much at the beginning. I care a lot about those things once you're going, 'That's the game we're making, this is the hardware that's going to make the game the best.' I don't start there so it's hard for me to think that way.
Greg Zeschuk, co-founder, BioWare:
Any time you have a new interface option that's really interesting to us. We obviously make games with a lot of depth. If there are ways we can improve upon how we deliver that and how we help players to experience it, that's interesting.
It's definitely something we'll look at. I would suspect we'll take a similar track as we took with Kinect, for example with Mass Effect 3. We'll look at it and see what Nintendo does with it. They'll always have the craziest, most innovative way to approach it. Then, we'll think about how we might possibly be able to use it and see if it makes sense.
Andrew Wilson, senior vice president of worldwide development, EA Sports:
We're always excited by about new platforms. It always presents a new challenge and a new way to deliver experiences to gamers. We dont have a lot more information than everybody else does right now.
But we've made a commitment because what I see by having the new remote here and the screen is the opportunity for us to do things here that we would have done on a screen before. So this concept of cleaning up everything you see on the big screen and putting all that here [on the controller screen], is an interesting proposition.
We don't have that problem solved, but the opportunity to change the way you interact with a game based on moving everything from the HUD to here, is interesting.
The radar can go there. You could trigger wing play. You could play an offside trap here. There are a whole bunch of things you could do here that before, you had to remember a two-button combination or a d-pad combination, or you had to see it represented up on a screen, which meant if anyone else was watching they saw it.
We look at it and say, 'Wow, this is interesting.' We don't have a lot of information. We know it's high-def. We know it's got a great, new innovative controller. As game makers we say, 'OK, what can we do with that?' That's the thing that has jumped to our mind. Between now and when that launches, we'll be working diligently to make sure it adds value, that it's not a gimmick, but it truly adds value. As a FIFA gamer, if I could have touch-screen controls that said wing play, offside trap, push forward, pull back all these things that no longer were assigned to a d-pad I would feel pretty good about it.
I'm sure we're going to do more than that, but as the lowest common denominator, that would be pretty cool. That would change the way I play.
Ted Price, president and CEO, Insomniac Games:
The challenge for consumers, as always, is going to be, where do I spend my money? There are more and more choices now. That's all going to be driven by the killer applications. If you get that great game that's available for the Vita or the Wii U, then it should mean really good things for each platform.
It's exciting and intimidating at the same time. It's exciting because most of us at Insomniac are gadget geeks. We love shiny new toys. That's one of the reasons we were a launch title on the PS3 with Resistance, because it's an amazing platform and we really wanted to get on it.
Now, looking at all the other options, it's like being in a candy store. All these cool things you can do not only with your technology but with your design it's great.
On the other hand it's intimidating because there's only so much time in the day and so many resources we have to devote to developing for all the platforms. It's all about planning well, making sure the games we're designing are taking advantage of the platforms you choose in terms of their input devices and their capabilities.
But, overall, this demonstrates to me content creators today are in a really good position. If you can maximise the reach of your content through multiple platforms then you're reaching a broader audience and you have more opportunity to demonstrate the different twists on each of your franchises depending on the platform you're using.
John Carmack, co-founder, id Software:
It's a perfectly valid target for our id Tech 5 development platform. It's going to be very interesting to see what the marketing uptake of the Wii U is. If they're able to convert a lot of their existing Wii customers that are not hardcore gamers, that don't have the other consoles, then yeah, I'd certainly be interested in moving our technology over there.
Motion control can't be tacked on to a lot of different types of games. You need a game designed for motion control. While local touch-screen is something practically any game could derive some value out of.