Wii U in Development Hell

Wii U in Development Hell

Next Nintendo console seeing delays

Oh, development hell. You've swallowed so many hotly anticipated projects. You've held so many of my friends in your jaws. Is Gordon Freeman still down there? How's he doing? Any chance of spitting him back up from your jowls anytime soon? No? I'll check back later.

It's not always just games that become ensnared in sticky production. The holiday season is a cruel deadline for gaming companies. Whether they're struggling to produce the latest flickery handheld toy or a new installment in a hit game franchise, they've got to get it all done by the time parents compete to gather loot for their pleading offspring. An off release time could lead to financial disaster. A rushed product could do the same. It's a tricky juggling challenge, one that usually results in either a raw, unpolished game from an otherwise impeccable publisher (Left 4 Dead 2) or multiple delayed release dates (Portal 2). Gaming development seems to be a town populated exclusively by rocks and hard places.

Now Nintendo seems to be the latest passenger aboard the struggle bus. We've heard plenty of exciting things regarding the Wii U, the console that would change everything we think we know about Nintendo for a second time. The second round of the Wii would feature a bigger controller with a touch-sensitive screen for dual interface action. It'd be like gaming on an iPad and a full console at the same time where you'd get to use the iPad for personal secondary actions in a larger game. But according to rumors streaming out of France (of all places), the new hardware isn't working as well as the company had hoped. The chipset is all wonky and they haven't even gotten around to making the tablet controllers wireless yet. They're supposedly on their third prototype already and they've still got plenty of gaps to fill in. 

Nintendo never intended to get this thing up and running by Christmas, but a delay of their original release date of June of 2012 could hinder them in other ways. Several big game titles could be released every month that the Wii U stagnates. If the new Microsoft console hits stores before the new Wii, Nintendo could lose some legitimate sales--especially considering that they're attempting to reinvent their image, transforming themselves from the patron saint of the casual gamer into another fully fueled engine for serious games to run on. 

The June 2012 release date has been allegedly postponed to September of the same year--exactly 12 months from now. Will a year be enough for Nintendo to gather themselves? They intended to work more closely with third-party developers this time around, but the more they flail, the harder it'll be for their associates to get anywhere productive with them. The dev kits are currently wired and even that connection is shaky. Reaching out to more developers is probably a good move for Nintendo, but it seems like they've been tripping over their own feet trying to build heavy machinery atop a foundation of fun but lightweight toys.