Here's Everything Nintendo Would Tell Me About Wii U

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Posted by patrickklepek (4623 posts) -
Battle Mii was just one of several conceptual demos shown at E3. It may not become a game.

Getting specifics about Nintendo's new console was like extracting teeth at E3. The company showed what it showed and had little interest in committing to more.

It didn't help the only person I was able to talk about the device was the head of Nintendo's public relations department.

Believe me, I'd requested a chance to speak with Reggie Fils-Aime or Satoru Iwata. They were busy, I was told. I don't doubt that.

In any other case, I wouldn't spend time at E3 speaking with a public relations person, but as Wii U was the biggest thing at E3, I wanted to extract as much information for you as I possibly could.

What follows is an edited conversation with Mark Franklin, where I tried to address concerns and questions about Wii U. I came away with plenty of vagueness, but some answers, too.

Are developers required to implement the screen transfer feature into every game?

Franklin: We're not making any prerequisites to any of the developers to say "you have to do this, you have to do that." What we're showing at this year's show is just the possibilities. That's just an example. Certainly, that's a possibility.

How easy is it for a developer to implement the screen transfer feature, if they choose to?

Franklin: I'm not going to get into the technical side, but it's certainly up to the developers to make that choices. We've shown what's possible and now it's up to the developers to come up with content.

What's the range of the Wii U controller? Can you take it out of the room?

== TEASER ==

Franklin: We're not talking about range, but the vision is that the controller resides in the living room. That's where the central entertainment is going to be anyway. You've got your TV and you've got your new controller. And just imagine the Chase Mii experience, where you've got four buddies on your Wii remotes and one guy on your new controller, but you're all gathered in the same room having that experience--two different experiences but sharing in the experience. That's the vision.

Can you have multiple Wii U controllers connected to the same console?

Franklin: At this year's E3, we're just showing this one experience and not really talking beyond that, which is just the one controller, plus up to four Wii remotes. We are showing specific experiences along those lines--you've got Chase Mii, Battle Mii. They all provide a different scenario. We've got a true, social multiplayer experience versus a single-player experience versus a multiplayer experience but two people getting two very different experiences in Battle Mii.

Again, showing off the possibilities of what the system can do, what the new controller can do, and seeing what developers can come up with.

Does the Wii U controller have its own specific name?

Franklin: Right now, we're just calling it the new controller. Don't have another name for it yet.

What about backwards compatibility with Wii? GameCube?

Franklin: Yes, backwards compatible. Just one generation. You can have Wii software and Wii devices, so your Wii Remotes, Wii Remote Plus, Classic Controllers. [...] No Wavebird. [laughs]

Could you theoretically control the Wii U interface with just a Wii Remote?

Franklin: It's so early in the process right now that, again, the thing that we're showing right now is having the new controller, the wireless new controller interface with the system, and having the Wii Remote interface with the sensor bar. There's also a sensor bar on the new controller, so your Wii remotes could read off of that.

All of the demos shown at E3 featured only on Wii U controller. Will it support more? Unknown.

How would that work? Do you put the Wii U next to the TV?

Franklin: We haven't talked about any examples, but the capability is there, so that the Wii Remotes could read off of your new controller. What that means [is] there could maybe be a game that is just on that new controller, but we haven't discussed anything like that yet.

How long have third-parties know about the hardware?

Franklin: We don't talk about timing like that, but we did announce the system earlier than E3, and so development kits have been out there to all the major developers.

How does the 3DS interact with the Wii U?

Franklin: Mr. Iwata announced on stage something I'm really excited about. Mr. Sakurai [is] one, making a new Smash Bros. game and two, there's going to be cross-platform compatibility between the Nintendo 3DS and the new system. [...] There's no more details other than that, but the prospect of being able to have some experiences shared on two different devices with the same game is exciting. Smash is a huge game, so you can imagine what kind of possibilities could come up with having that on Nintendo 3DS and the new controller.

Have you had any conversations with Epic Games about Unreal Engine 3?

Franklin: Nothing to announce on that. We're not really talking about the technical specifications or the behind-the-scenes engines that are running the system or anything like that. What we want to focus on, and what consumers have continued to look at, especially with Nintendo products, is they want to see what the experience is like.

Is this the last we hear about the system until next E3?

Franklin: It's hard to say right now. We just announced it, so that's what we're focused on it. We want to make sure that people have time on the system, that they get a chance to experience the unique opportunity that the system offers, so that's what we're focused on right now. In terms of next steps, that'll come. We'll be figuring that out in the weeks and months ahead.

The Super Mario Bros. Mii game shown was little more than a polished up Super Maro Bros. Wii.

What about the disc format?

Franklin: It's going to be a high-density disc that's a proprietary format. It'll be a high-density disc format, but we don't have anything to share besides that.

And storage?

Franklin: We'll have SD cards, but we'll also have USB slots.

You'll be able to use a hard drive at personal storage?

Franklin: Yeah, theoretically.

If a developer wanted to, could they just leverage the Wii remotes and not the Wii U controller?

Franklin: It's going to be up to the developers to make those kinds of decisions. There's tons of possibilities. It's going to be up to them to figure out what those possibilities are going to be.

Should we expect an online experience on par with Xbox Live and PlayStation Network?

Franklin: We see Wii U as a flexible system. It's not a one-size-fits-fall. It's not a centralized system. What John [Riccitiello, Electronic Arts] was describing [at the press conference] was his vision. We'll work with third-parties to understand what the opportunities are, and I think what's going to drive maybe the best examples are individual approaches, the best of class individual approaches both from third-party and from Nintendo. John was just referring to what he thought might happen.

Staff
#1 Posted by patrickklepek (4623 posts) -
Battle Mii was just one of several conceptual demos shown at E3. It may not become a game.

Getting specifics about Nintendo's new console was like extracting teeth at E3. The company showed what it showed and had little interest in committing to more.

It didn't help the only person I was able to talk about the device was the head of Nintendo's public relations department.

Believe me, I'd requested a chance to speak with Reggie Fils-Aime or Satoru Iwata. They were busy, I was told. I don't doubt that.

In any other case, I wouldn't spend time at E3 speaking with a public relations person, but as Wii U was the biggest thing at E3, I wanted to extract as much information for you as I possibly could.

What follows is an edited conversation with Mark Franklin, where I tried to address concerns and questions about Wii U. I came away with plenty of vagueness, but some answers, too.

Are developers required to implement the screen transfer feature into every game?

Franklin: We're not making any prerequisites to any of the developers to say "you have to do this, you have to do that." What we're showing at this year's show is just the possibilities. That's just an example. Certainly, that's a possibility.

How easy is it for a developer to implement the screen transfer feature, if they choose to?

Franklin: I'm not going to get into the technical side, but it's certainly up to the developers to make that choices. We've shown what's possible and now it's up to the developers to come up with content.

What's the range of the Wii U controller? Can you take it out of the room?

== TEASER ==

Franklin: We're not talking about range, but the vision is that the controller resides in the living room. That's where the central entertainment is going to be anyway. You've got your TV and you've got your new controller. And just imagine the Chase Mii experience, where you've got four buddies on your Wii remotes and one guy on your new controller, but you're all gathered in the same room having that experience--two different experiences but sharing in the experience. That's the vision.

Can you have multiple Wii U controllers connected to the same console?

Franklin: At this year's E3, we're just showing this one experience and not really talking beyond that, which is just the one controller, plus up to four Wii remotes. We are showing specific experiences along those lines--you've got Chase Mii, Battle Mii. They all provide a different scenario. We've got a true, social multiplayer experience versus a single-player experience versus a multiplayer experience but two people getting two very different experiences in Battle Mii.

Again, showing off the possibilities of what the system can do, what the new controller can do, and seeing what developers can come up with.

Does the Wii U controller have its own specific name?

Franklin: Right now, we're just calling it the new controller. Don't have another name for it yet.

What about backwards compatibility with Wii? GameCube?

Franklin: Yes, backwards compatible. Just one generation. You can have Wii software and Wii devices, so your Wii Remotes, Wii Remote Plus, Classic Controllers. [...] No Wavebird. [laughs]

Could you theoretically control the Wii U interface with just a Wii Remote?

Franklin: It's so early in the process right now that, again, the thing that we're showing right now is having the new controller, the wireless new controller interface with the system, and having the Wii Remote interface with the sensor bar. There's also a sensor bar on the new controller, so your Wii remotes could read off of that.

All of the demos shown at E3 featured only on Wii U controller. Will it support more? Unknown.

How would that work? Do you put the Wii U next to the TV?

Franklin: We haven't talked about any examples, but the capability is there, so that the Wii Remotes could read off of your new controller. What that means [is] there could maybe be a game that is just on that new controller, but we haven't discussed anything like that yet.

How long have third-parties know about the hardware?

Franklin: We don't talk about timing like that, but we did announce the system earlier than E3, and so development kits have been out there to all the major developers.

How does the 3DS interact with the Wii U?

Franklin: Mr. Iwata announced on stage something I'm really excited about. Mr. Sakurai [is] one, making a new Smash Bros. game and two, there's going to be cross-platform compatibility between the Nintendo 3DS and the new system. [...] There's no more details other than that, but the prospect of being able to have some experiences shared on two different devices with the same game is exciting. Smash is a huge game, so you can imagine what kind of possibilities could come up with having that on Nintendo 3DS and the new controller.

Have you had any conversations with Epic Games about Unreal Engine 3?

Franklin: Nothing to announce on that. We're not really talking about the technical specifications or the behind-the-scenes engines that are running the system or anything like that. What we want to focus on, and what consumers have continued to look at, especially with Nintendo products, is they want to see what the experience is like.

Is this the last we hear about the system until next E3?

Franklin: It's hard to say right now. We just announced it, so that's what we're focused on it. We want to make sure that people have time on the system, that they get a chance to experience the unique opportunity that the system offers, so that's what we're focused on right now. In terms of next steps, that'll come. We'll be figuring that out in the weeks and months ahead.

The Super Mario Bros. Mii game shown was little more than a polished up Super Maro Bros. Wii.

What about the disc format?

Franklin: It's going to be a high-density disc that's a proprietary format. It'll be a high-density disc format, but we don't have anything to share besides that.

And storage?

Franklin: We'll have SD cards, but we'll also have USB slots.

You'll be able to use a hard drive at personal storage?

Franklin: Yeah, theoretically.

If a developer wanted to, could they just leverage the Wii remotes and not the Wii U controller?

Franklin: It's going to be up to the developers to make those kinds of decisions. There's tons of possibilities. It's going to be up to them to figure out what those possibilities are going to be.

Should we expect an online experience on par with Xbox Live and PlayStation Network?

Franklin: We see Wii U as a flexible system. It's not a one-size-fits-fall. It's not a centralized system. What John [Riccitiello, Electronic Arts] was describing [at the press conference] was his vision. We'll work with third-parties to understand what the opportunities are, and I think what's going to drive maybe the best examples are individual approaches, the best of class individual approaches both from third-party and from Nintendo. John was just referring to what he thought might happen.

Staff
#2 Edited by Gunharp (337 posts) -

Wow, first attempt at being first and I am. Wicked!

#3 Posted by enune77 (18 posts) -

This is all well and good but whats the price for this magical piece of kit?

#4 Posted by Gre (154 posts) -

Kudos to Martin Franklin for not actually answering any of the questions.  That's some good public relations work.

#5 Posted by SuperJoe (878 posts) -

@enune77 said:

This is all well and good but whats the price for this magical piece of kit?

They have nothing to say about that at this time.

#6 Posted by tourgen (4500 posts) -

wow, pretty evasive answers to most of the questions. That or the thing is just some plastic mockups and the real work hasnt really started?

#7 Posted by CarpetRemnant (375 posts) -

Hmmm, seems like that must have been a frustrating interview. I won't be sold on it until they answer some of those questions properly, particularly concerning the online service. They really need to sort their online business out this generation or they're really going to get left behind.

#8 Posted by FreakAche (2953 posts) -

I'm a bit bummed out to specifically hear the words, "No Wavebird". For the first time since Melee I'm going to have to relearn how to play Smash Bros.

#9 Edited by august (3845 posts) -

We're not talking about that right now.

#10 Posted by ajamafalous (11994 posts) -

I didn't know somebody could use 'experience' so many times.

#11 Posted by Binarynova (150 posts) -

"[...] no Wavebird. [laughs]"
 
Wow. He laughed? Really? I'm glad he answered it though... it helps me answer my own question: "Will I be buying one?"
 
No. [laughs]
 
But seriously I was kind of hoping that they would announce a normal controller (with actual thumb-sticks and no screen) in the future... but his answer pretty much sums it up for me.

#12 Posted by AuthenticM (3732 posts) -

Jesus Christ, talk about media training.

#13 Posted by BaneFireLord (2935 posts) -

"We're not talking about that just yet"...the News Story!!!

#14 Posted by Speaker4TheDead (77 posts) -

lots of typos. Seems very interesting but I won't get it unless it gets stellar hands-on reports and justifiably cool games.

#15 Posted by Doctorchimp (4076 posts) -

Patrick did you chuckle when the PR man told you to imagine playing Chase Mii with your buddies in the living room?

#16 Posted by JTHomeslice (239 posts) -

@enune77 said:

This is all well and good but whats the price for this magical piece of kit?

This is still a year off. Did you honestly expect them to announce price?

#17 Posted by paulunga (2018 posts) -

That sure is the head of Nintendo's public relations department. Jesus.

#18 Posted by MindOST (215 posts) -
@tourgen said:

wow, pretty evasive answers to most of the questions. That or the thing is just some plastic mockups and the real work hasnt really started?

Pretty much everything about what they showed at E3 screams "prototype" to me. I'm not sure even Nintendo have nailed down the exact specs of the machine yet.
#19 Posted by Cold_Wolven (2220 posts) -

How vague could that interview get but one interesting note is potential hard drives and whether we can use external like say a 2 terabyte.

#20 Posted by Renahzor (991 posts) -

This is actually kind of hilarious.  The more bullshit I read about "The experience" the less I give 2 shits what this actually turns out to be.  Im now 100% more interested to see if the Vita becomes a PS3 controller, or if MS/Sony jump on board with the tablet/controller idea and make something I might actually care about.  How do you make half your fans not give a shit about what you're making?  We're not discussing that at this time.  

#21 Posted by ValiantGoat (376 posts) -

Should have asked him if Nintendo was looking forward to putting effort into getting ports of games on the 360 and PS3 and then being left out come the rest of the next gen systems. Currently with all the vagueness surrounding the Wii U it looks like I'll be passing on another Nintendo home console.

#22 Posted by ImperiousRix (2963 posts) -

Hrrrm, I understand they can't talk about a lot of stuff and that they are "trained", but this guy seemed a tad dickish. 

#23 Posted by JackSukeru (5912 posts) -

I hope they end up enabling the use of more than one controller for this thing.

...I guess.

I also hope it ends up with with some decent range so I can at least bring it into, say a nearby bathroom (Mario in the bath, Yeeaah!)

#24 Posted by Blair (2506 posts) -

The online functionality response was pretty gross. I'm interested to see where this goes because I like the basic concept of the WiiU (hate the name, of course) but there are certain things that I need confirmed before I can commit. Great article, Patrick.

#25 Posted by RiotBananas (3600 posts) -

You may as well have just wrote "We're not talking about that right now" for every response.

This guy should be a fucking politician.

#26 Posted by rmanthorp (3949 posts) -

I HAS THE HDS!

Moderator
#27 Posted by Deathpooky (1402 posts) -

There's some media relations jujitsu right there. You'd almost have been better off just asking for a list of questions they're authorized to answer and going from there.

#28 Posted by Andryan (52 posts) -

@tourgen: they have general ideas on the hardware up on the Nintendo site, but it is pretty vague (mostly just what brand). I think they are waiting right up until manufacturing so they can get the "best value" (highest power, lowest price).

I really think Nintendo is aiming this console at Families who already own Wii's, but also have kids who might want "hardcore" games. You can upgrade to the WiiU, keep your Wiimotes, and have family games + hardcore games.

#29 Edited by onan (1286 posts) -

Patrick, you've got the best typos.

Can you have multiple Wii U controllers connected to the same console?

Frankin: At this year's E3, we're just showing this one experience and not really talking beyond that, which is just the one controller, plus up to one Wii remote. We are showing specific experiences along those lines (their promo photos beg to differ)

How long third-parties know about the hardware?

They say they know it Long time (?)

#30 Posted by soupbones (288 posts) -

"We're not talking about range, but the vision is that the controller resides in the living room."

Sounds like the controller can't be out of the room that contains the console... which makes the feature of continuing my game elsewhere kind of pointless...

#31 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

This is one of the many reasons that I switched out of my journalism majour.

#32 Posted by elcalavera (344 posts) -

Only one 'new controller' per system really sucks.

#33 Posted by chickdigger802 (502 posts) -

Don't blame the PR guy, even other people have no real clue what's going on inside this 'utopian box'.

http://kotaku.com/5811470/ubisoft-struggles-to-explain-how-powerful-the-wii-u-is

#34 Posted by Cynic04 (124 posts) -
There's also a sensor bar on the new controller, so your Wii remotes could read off of that.

I'm pretty sure the Golf example they showed in the stage presentation was using this feature, where the Wii U is on the ground showing the ball and it's sensor tracks the golf swing of the Wii-mote.

#35 Edited by Zimbo (875 posts) -

Surely if Batman:Arkham City is going to be on the Wii U there must be some form of Unreal Engine in development for the Wii U. I can't see Rocksteady making a completely new engine.
 
Also, PR Man sure knows how to avoid questions.

#36 Posted by Joru (311 posts) -

Some of the info that Patrick was inquiring about is still under wraps and they have been pretty clear about it so I wouldn't blame the PR guy really. His answer to the first question was weird though... the sentences seem disconnected somehow.

#37 Posted by Rayeth (1043 posts) -

Here is the TL;DR summary:

Here's Everything Nintendo Would Tell Me About Wii U

Not much.

Online
#38 Posted by Piranesi (452 posts) -

PR ... short for prick.

#39 Posted by MattyFTM (14384 posts) -

I can imagine the job description of a Nintendo PR representative being pretty much "Must be able to rephrase 'we're not talking about that now' as many times as required".

Moderator
#40 Posted by Surkov (992 posts) -

Thank you Patrick for this interview. It answered many of my questions.   
  
Also, all of response for the questions or answered by a guy named Frankin, I think these should all be Franklin.  

#41 Posted by patrickklepek (4623 posts) -

I blame my cold.

Staff
#42 Edited by Rolyatkcinmai (2687 posts) -

Nintendo is trying very very hard to make this thing sound completely unappealing.

"We're not talking about engines. Nintendo consumers want the experience"

Fuck you, if you want your Nintendo customers back you can have them. If you want to entice real gamers that have been asking more of you, answer questions like that. Even if you don't know, say that. Don't act like talking about specs or engines are too intelligent. That's catering to the Wii crowd that bought a whopping one game per system.

#43 Posted by enune77 (18 posts) -

@JTHomeslice: I really didn't follow CES. Was just curious.

#44 Posted by umdesch4 (772 posts) -

No one man should have all that PR.

#45 Posted by SimonM7 (129 posts) -

The dodging that's going on in interviews about this thing you could swear they're politicians trying to ham fistedly cover up an radioactive waste spill.
 
There are so many fucked up things about this console that they're vaguely and half-assedly trying to sweep under the carpet. There are practical issues with it that would be leviated - not punctuated - if they were just up front about answering inquiries about them.

#46 Posted by Vexxan (4620 posts) -

So basically he didn't tell us much now did he.

#47 Posted by Nomin (977 posts) -

Good job Franklin!

#48 Posted by Beb (245 posts) -

@Binarynova said:

"[...] no Wavebird. [laughs]" Wow. He laughed? Really? I'm glad he answered it though... it helps me answer my own question: "Will I be buying one?" No. [laughs] But seriously I was kind of hoping that they would announce a normal controller (with actual thumb-sticks and no screen) in the future... but his answer pretty much sums it up for me.

They have one. It's called the Classic Controller for the Wii and it has existed for a long time.

#49 Posted by MisterMouse (3554 posts) -

gosh I feel like they should have waited another year when more things about the console are solidified... all of this just seems pointless... 
 
"oh we are not talking about right now"

#50 Posted by phish09 (1109 posts) -

That was a whole lot of PR speak.  At least you tried Patrick.  Kudos.

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