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EA: Wii U is launching at the perfect time

Traditional console cycle now irrelevant?

Nintendo has chosen the perfect time to launch the Wii U, reckons EA boss John Riccitiello.

Speaking in an interview with IndustryGamers, Riccitiello refuted the suggestion that, seeing as it's ostensibly no more powerful than the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, the Wii U is arriving too late in the current console cycle to stand a chance.

"I would argue that one of the least interesting things about the games industry was that every five years you'd see a new console or platform from everybody at about the same time with about the same or similar upgrades or services," he said.

"You'd sort of harvest it and then it'd cycle back. We got used to it. It’s what seemed normal. But it's not a particularly smart way to run an industry... bulges in technology investment followed by harvest.

"And let's be realistic. Consoles used to be 80 per cent of the industry as recently as 2000. Consoles today are 40 per cent of the game industry, so what do we really have?"

With the traditional release pattern no longer relevant and the tablet being one of the fastest growing platforms on the market, Riccitiello argued that the Wii U's timing is spot on.

"Nintendo is off cycle with what? I mean, the point of reference is gone. And so Nintendo is bringing out a new platform that brings together some of what we're learning from new media and new platforms like the iPad and then integrating that with a console.

"It's the perfect time for that in the industry."

The EA CEO went on insist that processing power and graphical fidelity are no longer the key battlegrounds in a new hardware launch.

"I think there's going to be an interesting debate when you get to processing power beyond what you can push up with a 1080p or a 720p [system]," he said.

"Most people squint between 1080p and 720p, because what’s the difference, seriously?

"I would argue that there’s more to be provided in terms of value for the consumer in micro-transactions and social experiences and driving those better in cross-platform gameplay between a console and a PC and a handheld device and a social network than there is supercharging graphics."

"So I think that the pattern against which Nintendo is no longer resonating is over anyway. The idea that we’re going to see the need for step function growth in graphic performance as the pace setting aspect of the sector is no longer the most important thing."

Riccitiello climbed onstage during Nintendo's Wii U reveal at E3 last month to pledge the publisher's support for the new system, due on shelves sometime next year.

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About the Author
Fred Dutton avatar

Fred Dutton


Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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