One of the chief reactions to Nintendo’s Wii U tablet controller coming out party at this year’s E3 was, “Is that the system?” Without a screenshot of the actual box at the company’s press conference, the Big N had many on the show floor believing that the tablet was the whole of the new device. And according to Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, that was almost the case.
In an interview with Gamasutra, Iwata-san did note that Nintendo had discussed the tablet controller being its own system.
“During the roundtable discussions there were such arguments about should we make it capable of being a standalone system or should we make it work only with the [base console] system,” Iwata quipped. “We came to the conclusion that this controller is only going to show the images generated and processed by this hardware unit – and sent from the hardware unit wirelessly. That means sharper graphics. A battery couldn’t do that.”
During those same discussions, according to Iwata-san, the LCD screen currently embedded in the Wii U controller was originally considered as a separate unit.
“Considering how expensive screens were then, it did not make sense to have this big-sized LCD,” he said. “We would not have been able to come up with a reasonable price point. … We had not decided when we were going to launch the new console [at that point], but we knew we needed to be flexible.”
Iwata-san also took some time to remain aloof when asked of the price point for Wii U titles.
“I think there is already some indication that the [current pricing] trend is going to stay here,” he says. “When you consider some of the most popular franchises – such as Call of Duty or Madden – the publishers can afford to affix a rather expensive price tag on that because the franchise has a premium value. On the other hand, … without an established franchise, they cannot afford to keep that expensive price tag. I believe there will be a wider price range.”
So, Nintendo almost had a tablet, and we also recently learned that Sony almost skipped the PS Vita’s back touch screen. Are major game companies reneging on these good ideas on purpose? What are your thoughts on the Wii U tablet that could have been, EGs?