Nintendo's next console, the Wii U, will run into the same problem its predecessors did. Namely, it will be unable to run popular video games designed for other major gaming consoles by its second or third year of existence, according to people familiar with the capabilities of the late-2012 console.
"After the next generation of machines comes out, Wii U will be a performance orphan," one industry insider who is familiar with the specs of the new Nintendo console, told Kotaku. "It will be closer in performance to the next iPad than the next-gen machines."
Those "next generation" machines are the PlayStation 4 and the successor to the Xbox 360, devices currently codenamed Orbis and Durango, both expected for release as soon as the end of 2013.
The situation Kotaku industry sources foresee, will be a repeat of the Wii's worst problems in the current generation of consoles. Nintendo's Wii U, they note, does at least have enough muscle to disguise its shortcomings for a year or so.
Nintendo's most impressive graphical showpiece, a 2011 mock-up of a scene from Zelda running smoothly on Wii U hardware.
Nintendo does not acknowledge their new machine's technical shortcoming and instead is promoting the Wii U as a device that will satisfy both the less tech-focused Wii audience and the so-called hardcore gamer in search of big games from any big gaming publisher. The Japanese giant may be banking on the fact that its Wii so severely trounced the more powerful PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 five years ago that even as its sales have dramatically slowed it maintains a global lead over both machines—and that's with the 360 being out one year longer.
Still, gamers may have liked to have known that Nintendo's next machine would effortlessly handle any major third-party game made in the next half-decade, a peace of mind that purchases of the 360 and PS3 have had for the last six years. Nintendo has made no such assurances and may not be in a position to deliver any, because the Wii U just doesn't seem to be future-proofed that far ahead.
Industry tech insider: "After the next generation of machines comes out, Wii U will be a performance orphan."
Nintendo has been tough to pin down regarding just how capable its new machine is, leaving outlets like ours reliant on the whispers of insiders who have seen the machine's specs. We've relied on industry sources to assess the Wii U's ability to play the probably cutting-edge games of the year 2014. These insiders themselves cannot assess the Wii U's power with 100% accuracy because the might of a console is the product of multiple factors. Judged by its RAM, the Wii U could be viewed as up to four times as powerful as the Xbox 360, boasting as much as 2GB of RAM to the 360's 512. But one insider who has had access to the machine says that the console's impressive AMD Radeon-based graphics chip is off-set by a CPU that runs at low speeds, can do out-of-order processing but has fewer threads than the 360. The insider says the Wii U has the power to run Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ports with little difficulty. But they predict trouble when major third-party companies start producing games for the next Xbox and PlayStation, which will be about 6-8 times more powerful than the current 360 and PS3 according to several Kotaku sources who are aware of Sony and Microsft's plans for those machines.