Next-Gen Transition Will be Just as Slow and Painful for PS4 and Xbox as Wii U

We’ve all heard the doom and gloom about Wii U – how its lack of third-party support will make it fail, how its current multi-platform offerings are pathetic because they consist largely of last-gen’s games dressed up in fancy Wii U clothing, and in some cases how the system isn’t really next-gen at all. Of course, we also know that the best is yet to come, with brand-new entries in The Legend of Zelda, Super Smash Bros., and 3D Super Mario franchises – plus a bunch of other still-unannounced games.

Right now, however, the main problem plaguing the system is clear: there just aren’t enough must-have games compared to other current consoles. But if you’ve been reading the signs, you’ve probably noticed that this issue might not be isolated to Wii U in the coming months and years…


One of the big complaints about Wii U was that most of its third-party catalog consisted of games that were already available on other platfoms, many of which had been released many months before on other platforms. The list included games like Mass Effect 3, Darksiders II, and Batman: Arkham City, among others – and since then, we’ve seen even more games in this category, like Need for Speed: Most Wanted and the upcoming Deus Ex: Human Revolution port.

Batman Arkham City Armored Edition _E3 Screenshot_3While porting these games over is great for those who didn’t own a HD platform last-gen, the fact of the matter is that these games’ audiences had already largely been served by the time that Wii U came out. If you really wanted Arkham City, you got it in 2011. And with most third-parties working to develop a “hardcore” audience on last gen’s HD platforms, if Arkham City really hooked you, you’ve probably owned an HD system for at least as long.

In the case of new games like Black Ops II and Assassin’s Creed, most of the titles in these franchises were already popular on Xbox 360 or PS3 – not on Wii. The same principle applies – anyone who wants to play these games has already followed them on another system.

So it’s not so much that the ports are bad – it’s just that their audience is limited to those few gamers who weren’t already compelled enough to play them when they first came out, or as their franchises grew over the last few years, and who are willing to get them along with a new console. They don’t do anything to guarantee that a new console will take flight out the gate.

If PlayStation 4′s early lineup is any indication, we’re going to see a good number of current-gen ports make their way to next-gen as well. So far, we’ve heard about Assassin’s Creed IV, Battlefield 4, Blacklight: Retribution (which released in April of last year), Destiny, Diablo III (May 2012), and Watch_Dogs – and I’m sure there’ll be more to come. The next Call of Duty title, for example, is likely going to show up on 360 and PS3 as well as the next Xbox and PS4. Even Gran Turismo 6, the latest in Sony’s supremely popular driving franchise, sounds like it’s on its way to PS3 – a release that could potentially crowd Driveclub, Sony’s first big PS4 game in the genre.

aciv-screenshot-leak-5That’s a lot of ports – and many of them will be over a year-and-a-half late by the time PS4 comes out. With so many of these games coming to current-gen consoles as well as next-gen, will there really be a huge incentive to upgrade for most gamers? Probably not – especially not given how poorly Wii U performed in light of complaints about so many ports.

I don’t know how long it’ll take most publishers to truly cast aside the last-gen consoles in favor of the newer ones, but I think it’ll take longer than most people think. We could see steady new PS3 and 360 releases well into 2014.

If Starving Nintendo Fans Aren’t Upgrading, Will Well-Fed Sony and Microsoft Fans?

But Sony and Microsoft have one disadvantage that Wii U doesn’t. Their current gen platforms haven’t been basically barren for the last two years.

360 and PS3 are both still getting tons of games and attracting plenty of gamers, and while they’re slowing down momentum-wise there’s still enough content slated to show up in the coming year that they’re hardly in danger of stalling. On the other hand, Nintendo only saw a handful of significant Wii releases in 2011 and 2012 – and Wii’s virtually dead in 2013. If you’re a Wii fan, you’re starving for new content this year; if you’re a Xbox 360 or PS3 fan, you’ve still got a lot to look forward to – you know, all those games that you don’t really need to buy a new system to play?

If you’re a PS3 or 360 owner, you have the following games to look forward to this year:

  • Injustice: Gods Among Us (PS3, 360)
  • Dead Island: Riptide (PS3, 360)
  • Star Trek (PS3, 360)
  • Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen (PS3, 360)
  • Metro: Last Light (PS3, 360)
  • Resident Evil: Revelations Unveiled Edition (PS3, 360)
  • Fuse (PS3, 360)
  • Grid 2 (PS3, 360)
  • Remember Me (PS3, 360)
  • The Last of Us (PS3)
  • Lost Planet 3 (PS3, 360)
  • Deadfall Adventures (360)
  • Saints Row IV (PS3, 360)
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist (PS3, 360)
  • Grand Theft Auto V (PS3, 360)
  • Puppeteer (PS3)
  • Rayman Legends (PS3, 360)
  • Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)
  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (PS3, 360)
  • Killer is Dead (PS3, 360)
  • Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMix (PS3)
  • Battlefield 4 (PS3, 360)
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, 360)
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS3, 360)
  • Rain (PS3)

If you’re a Wii owner, this is what you’ve had to look forward to in 2011, 2012, and 2013 – the last three years (counting this year):

  • Mario Sports Mix
  • de Blob 2
  • Wii Play: Motion
  • Driver: San Francisco
  • Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny
  • Kirby’s Return to Dreamland
  • Rayman Origins
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • Fortune Street
  • Rhythm Heaven Fever
  • Mario Party 9
  • Xenoblade Chronicles
  • Kirby’s Dream Collection
  • The Last Story
  • Pandora’s Tower

Which of these groups do you think is most likely to have sufficient motivation to go out and buy a new console? I’ll give you a hint: it’s the one whose three-year list is shorter than the other two’s 2013 lineup.

PS4 and the Next Xbox Have Yet to Prove Their Worth

On the bright side for Sony, they’ve got a solid lineup exclusive first-party franchises in the pipeline for PS4 – and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg so far. I’m sure Microsoft will as well. But so does Wii U – they’re just not coming until later this year.

killzone-shadowfall-trailerWill PS4 and the next Xbox have a significantly larger first-party launch slate than Wii U did? Or, like Nintendo fans, will most of their core exclusives wind up seeing a slow trickle of releases throughout the year? We don’t yet know the answers to these questions, but I think it’s most likely that they won’t be the ideal “so many great games at launch” answers people are hoping for. That’s simply never been the reality for any platform’s launch – why should it change now?

Of course, whatever the case, by the time PS4 and the next Xbox come out, we know Nintendo plans to be at least close to delivering a new 3D Mario game, a new Mario Kart, Wind Waker Wii U, Super Smash Bros., and a few other still-unannounced titles. In other words, Wii U is about to prove itself – will PS4 and Xbox be able to live up to that challenge?

In any case, let’s face it – most of the content problems Wii U has faced so far are likely to be faced by PS4 and Xbox as well. While they’re unlikely to run into the same brand confusion that Wii U faced, we all know that it’s games – not consoles – that drive this industry. So the real question will be, as it always is, who will come out with the most-wanted games. And so far, it’s not necessarily clear that PS4 and Xbox will be ready with a stronger start than Wii U when they finally launch.

The kicker? Xbox and PS4 will both compete over the same major market segment – the “hardcore” crowd. Wii U, on the other hand, is primarily targeting its own niche – Nintendo gamers. We’ll see who wins out in the end.

  • Kallum Nom Nom Smart

    Wii did end up going slow but now they have changed around their company so a lot of Wii U games are becoming 3DS games too and they said it is helping them develop games much quicker than normal and they just announced like 10-15 games for Wii U this year so I personally think we got until PS4 launches to decide Nintendo’s Fate. Good to see 3DS Sales rocketing.

  • zdog

    Man when you layout the pipeline like that it really gives it some great perspective! Thank goodness for Skyward Sword and the operation rainfall titles or Nintendo’s lineup would be downright awful. You make some great points though. I’m just surprised that the media is so quick to forget about 3DS which was so so similar in launch to Wii U and now that it has some solid software no one is predicting its doom anymore.
    I will say that Kinect did bring a lot of the casual crowd to Xbox which will only be enhanced with the next Xbox. That is of course if they can actually provide a decent game for the platform.

    • Alex Plant

      Kinect could make the difference for Xbox.

      However, I think a lot of that potential is going to have been harmed by how poor its reception has been on Xbox 360.

      • zdog

        Agreed, it was a huge missed opportunity for Microsoft. They have the fastest selling consumer electronic device of all time and it seems almost every game was panned by critics. From my own experience the games I have played were no more fun or engaging than what you would find on a smartphone. So I’m interested to see if they can change that next time around.

      • Attilio Romano

        Yeah but I wander how it will affect msoft now that sony has just copied and done the same thing

        • Microwank

          Microsoft ripped off the original eye toy from Sony ( not the other way round). Ok kinnect was a lot more advanced but Sony were the first to bring motion sensing to consoles.

  • Aiddon

    I get the feeling the same people who were crying for a new hardware generation are the ones who WON’T be buying said hardware at launch. And if the PS4 and Nextbox get off to a slow start and I DON’T see doom and gloom articles for them I WILL call BS on self-important gaming websites.

    • Ray

      The attitude of those websites is that you MUST of course own a PlayStation or XBOX whereas they treat Nintendo as optional rather than a real competitor or a proper system. So if there are slow sales, I’m pretty sure they’re not going to write any gloom and doom articles because what else would console gamers be left with!?! They MUST eventually buy a PS4 or Infinity! I’ll be keeping my eye especially on a certain website that as of late seems to have an erection every time Sony announces that the new PlayStation uses electricity or plays video games.

  • Tensei

    The problem is perception. There is very little good news about the Wii U but when it comes to PS4 you hear all about the diverse games coming to the platform.

    It pains me to say this, as much as I love Iwata-san, I dont think he is a good CEO. I need to see Nintendo Attack Force. I need them to regain the management style of Howard Lincoln and aggressively pursue second and third parties studios. I need them to say they are willing to fight for my money. That is the impression I got from Sony’s PS4 conference.

    The management at Nintendo feels like they dont care. They are off doing whimsical things in corner but the 8th gen will arguably be the toughest generation to secure a healthy install base, and Nintendo are not bringing home the bacon.

    • Zeta

      nintendo could change that perception completely in E3, but we have yet to see that

      • Kamille

        how many times will that card be played? Nintendo will always be Nintendo, why you guys can’t understand that after 4 gens in a row? Talking about being stubborn… lol

        • Zeta

          so what? Everyone was giving the 3DS the seal of doom and look at it now. Who knows what nintendo will announce aside from what they showed off in their nintendo direct, you are the one being stubborn. They know well by now the situation they are in, E3 is the best chance for them to turn the tables around

    • Alex Plant

      To be fair to Nintendo, the bulk of Howard Lincoln’s years were spent on building up N64 and kicking off GameCube, which didn’t wind up doing anything particularly fantastic for them in the short run or the long run (if SNES was the beginning of their decline in the face of competition, N64 and GameCube were rock bottom). If anything, their practices since then have demonstrated that they’re capable of doing much, much better than that.

  • Kamille

    I really don’t think so. PS4 is launching with multiple exclusives IPs and multiplats designed for next gen unlike the Wii U which is basically a last gen console hardware wise with little to almost no 3rd party support.

    On top of it Gamestop say that the pre-orders for the PS4 are going strong.

    • heavenshitman1

      Preorders for PS4 doesnt mean much for the system. They’re pre-o’ing off the hype. PS4 hasn’t released prices details yet. And with the endless tech going into PS4. I bet it’ll hit the crowd like a steel I-beam to the head.
      Just for comparison (and bare with me, Im Australian, our prices are different but)
      WiiU factoring out the launch game costs about 370AU
      And its being sold at a loss..
      If PS4 has 4 times the processing power, a 3x times as fast B-ray drive than PS3, all new controllers with capacitive touch, move,LEDs, a speaker,
      and all tilt gyros etc…
      U honestly think it’ll shift hardware that fast at launch?

      • Dusk

        The PS4 actually isn’t nearly as powerful as so many people seem to think it is. Here is why. It uses the AMD Jaguar chip. These chips are designed to be in tablets, netbooks and entry level lap tops, also it happens to be clocked rather low at 1.6 ghz. The 8 gigs of DDR5 RAM is great, except it is shared ram between the system and the GPU on the APU (cpu + gpu on same die). It is also using old mechanical hard drives which will give more space but be very slow in comparison to the SSD’s that the Wii U uses and like the the next box will as well. So my bet is that Sony will take the road of loading the games into the RAM and play them that way instead of trying to read them from the HD as that is the slowest part of the machine, so that actually cuts down the usable amount of RAM in a game drastically. This to me seems the most likely scenario as so much of gaming is coming from digital retailers now, the PSN, eShop and xbox live.
        Also the GPU in the PS4 is actually only mid range in comparison to what is on the market right now.

        • Microwank

          There are a few problems with your comments. PS4 uses a highly modified version of the jaguar gpu, not an off the shelf unit. The shared memory is key to this as it allows for a level of parallel processing that is not currently available in today’s PC’s. We don’t know what harddrive it will have but I’m sure it will be bigger than 8g or 32g that the Wii U comes with. After the 4gig update required that leaves room for maybe 1 or 2 games on 8gig, q few more on 32, which means most users will have to use an external hard drive eventually anyhow which will be slower as it has to go through a USB 2.0 port.

    • Alex Plant

      No one has pre-ordered a PS4 at GameStop because they AREN’T ACCEPTING them yet. What you’re talking about is a no-commitment “be the first to know list,” which of course everyone and their dog who might even potentially care at some point will sign up for.

      • Microwank

        We don’t have gamestop in the UK I have already pre-ordered with game though, as have many thousands of others.

  • Robert Clark

    Nintendo really has to pull out all the stops at E3 for me. I don’t currently own a Wii U and the only game that i would buy one for is Wind Waker Reborn. Also if the rumours are true and Frostbite and Unreal Engine 4 won’t be used on Wii U Nintendo no matter how much i hate to say this but they might just lose Gen 8 before it has even truly begun. This coming from a diehard Ninteno fan.

    • Alex Plant

      Not having Unreal Engine 3 last gen didn’t mean much, why would not having Unreal Engine 4?

      • Dusk

        Of course thats only not having the unreal engine from epic. They stated that others could use the unreal 4 engine on the Wii U if they wanted. Although, with frostbite does that really matter much? It just means that DICE hasn’t coded the engine to work on the Wii U for all of the 2-3 games they will be releasing, if Nintendo and EA get back on proper terms they could easily add Wii U support into their engine, it’s not as if the Wii U isn’t powerful enough to run it, (the 360 and PS3 can) just that these companies had their falling out.

        • Microwank

          Actually they said that the Wii U CPU was slow and weak and that was the only reason they stopped coding after their initial attempts.

      • Microwank

        Because last gen Wii flew off the shelves on the strength of Wii sports alone, this gen all those casual gamers have ditched Nintendo for smart phones and tablets so it’s far more significant that unreal 4 isn’t supported. Nintendo will actually have to ‘try’ to win support from gamers.

  • K2L

    Ehhh, not really caring about who wins this time.

  • K2L

    You know what? I’ll just wait and see what happens. I’m sick and tired of speculations, rumors and defeatistic opinions.

  • heavenshitman1

    WiiU got bad press cause of its launch woes, with M’ Hunter and Lego City, sales have risen again, and will rocket with Windwaker or M’kart.
    Come launch PS4/720, Nintendo will have smoothed out its OS, have a handful of A+ grade games, and a massive user lead of at absolutley least 3 million.
    Then PS4/720 will be pushing and shoving to get their massive games in the launch window, dealing with system faults/returns, and trying to convince their customer bases to buy there double cost hardware vs WiiU. And they will likely cost double if not more. Maybe not the initial units, but the games and peripheral prices will kill ppls wallets.

    • Gaseous Snake

      sounds like you have a crystal ball in front of you

      • Dusk

        I’m inclined to agree with him. The prices for the PS3 as it stands will likely be around the 499 mark in the us I would bet. At cheapest maybe 399, and certainly at a loss. I mean there is the price of the system right, plus the controller with the new added hardware and features probably 80 bucks as the dual shock now costs 50+. Then the peripherals that will need to come with the machine, of course these things don’t cost much but it all adds up. Plus the prices of R&D that went into it. Wow.

  • Laurence Smith

    the difference with the ports arguement is 1. thats all the WiiU had, and 2. those were ports of games that ALREADY came out, most of the next gen ports are same day releases

    • Alex Plant

      Assassin’s Creed IV won’t be a same-day release. Diablo III isn’t a same-day release. Blacklight Retribution isn’t a same-day release.

      That’s three late ports THAT WE KNOW of already.

      • Laurence Smith

        Actually AC4 has already been confirmed to be same day also if you’ll read again!!! I said MOST!!! god learn to read!

        • Alex Plant

          I guarantee that PS4 will not be released before ACIV’s confirmed October release date. It’ll be a few weeks late, just like ACIII was on Wii U.

          • Laurence Smith

            That would be the smartest guess but… its already been confirmed so I can guarantee that it will ship the same time

            • CChaplin


          • clearwoodbellawater

            I agree that the ps4 probably won’t be out in time for the release of ac4, but I guarantee it will be out within a week or two of its release….it was developed at the same time as the current gen versions, so it cannot be qualified as a port….if that were the case, then mass effect 3 on ps3 would be a “port” too, along with every third party release ever….it’s created simultaneously, therefore the next gen was the intended target, not the afterthought…beyond that diablo 3 is a port, but it’s a game that has never seen a console release, so it’s a bit of a different situation than Arkham city on wii u….any game that is exclusive to one platform being ported to another is a bigger “get” than a game released on every other platform coming to a different one, it’s simple math….I don’t know anything about backlight so I can’t comment on it, beyond that I think it’s a pc game? If so, it’s in the same boat as diablo….the argument in the article about ports is inherently flawed, end of story

  • clearwoodbellawater

    i understand the intent of the article, and in some ways, yes, launches are typically not as new game friendly as we’d like them to be, but to compare the wii u’s abysmal launch with what sony has already announced is just plain impossible….first off, you mentioned the ports of older games coming to sony’s system, going as far as to say that “many of them will be a year & a half late” when in actuality, out of the 6 that you listed, only 2 will not be basically day & date, and those two happen to be previously pc-exclusive titles that console owners have never been able to play….you are also assuming that those will be launch titles when neither have to my knowledge been confirmed as such….the rest of the 6 you are calling “ports” are essentially not that at all, they are upscaled versions that have been created in tandem with their current gen counterparts….watchdogs in particular has been shown only in it’s next gen form, so if any version would be considered a port it would be the current gen versions….ac iv is similarly developed with a focus on the next gen plats and will be dropping within a week or two of it’s current gen counterpart….so really all of the comparisons you made there are inaccurate.
    Your second point is much more valid in that, yes, sony fans are already getting a lot of great games that might not justify an upgrade at this point, but i hardly consider that a bad thing for fans…in fact, most casual nintendo fans that are having a hard time justifying the purchase of wii u are doing it for that specific point, if i’m not getting games from my current system, i would rather wait a year and get a system with a guaranteed future of strong first AND third party content (w/ unreal engine 4 already being stated to not run on wii u, that all but guarantees 3rd party support will be cut in half, since most engines run similar in specs to that one) What you aren’t allowing is the option for some huge game reveals come e3, which is almost a sure thing….would i personally upgrade right now with the games list as is? Maybe not, but a new Uncharted or something along those lines would most definitely seal the deal for me (although i doubt uncharted will happen so soon).
    Lastly, you mention nintendo’s solid first party lineup, but the article is about launches, and nintendo having a solid first party lineup a year out does absolutely nothing for a launch….also you are assuming we will see more games that have yet to be announced that might not be coming in the holiday…essentially assuming that wii u, a system flailing in the water, has only shown the tip of the iceberg while sony, a system with a strong drive to best its last model has already blown its load is weighting the argument in the favor of your possibly preferred system….no doubt nintendo systems always end up with a few incredible games, but as time has gone on, those games have become fewer & more far between, leading many gamers to flee to greener pastures…nintendo has bungled its chances at a strong gamer-centric followup to the wii in my opinion, rushing out an underpowered system that again is going to live or die based on its gimmick, makes me think this is more of a half step than a full measure, and it’s very possible that a wii u 2 will be in the pipeline shortly, otherwise look forward to nothing other than a couple amazing games every few years with little else on the horizon.

    • Legobbles126

      I think you missed the single biggest point of the author’s argument. PS3 and 360 will be releasing a lot of ports (all launches do), cannibalizing their successors’ sales, and fighting each other for advertising and mindshare, while the Wii U will be releasing system-selling exclusives. The point is that 360 and PS3 will be launching in a far more hostile environment, so I wouldn’t expect them to do any better than Wii U.

      • clearwoodbellawater

        I definitely won’t argue that both Sony & microsofts systems will sell gangbusters, or even best the wii u in any significant way out the gate, but I think what they are saying now lines up much better with what we will be seeing come the holidays than what Nintendo claimed it was working towards, like the third party support that I present now, but in a scant few years will most certainly drop off harder than the wii did (outside of indie support possibly), and that first party support is few & far between unless they announce the new ip that Nintendo has needed for decades… far as the ports, I get that argument, but it’s simply not the case here, the games he claims as ports are most definitely not, games that are developed at the same time for multiple platforms are not ports, if that was the case then we would call every game out for multiple systems a port….watch dogs & ac 4 for example are obviously made with next gen tech firmly in mind, most likely the next gen is the target demo for those games along with the larger install base of current gen, which would probably not even see those games without that fact….so those are most definitely not ports, just like ac3 for wii u was not a port…..also, games like diablo are games that have never seen a console release, so while they ma be ports, they are a very different and special kind that shouldt be viewed as such…..what we know of now, wii u had FAR more ports than the ps4will, based off of the very definition of ports themselves….this article would’ve done better to speak on different reasons why the gen would be slower for the other big two instead of the reasons it picked….instead of trying to elevate the wii u in a fanboyesque fashion, it should use true facts to show why this will be the case (again, it very well could be)

  • Attilio Romano

    I think this article made a great point that if the wii u brings out smash bros, a new mario and a new zelda game just before the releases of the new consoles by sony and msoft then it will be a whole diffrent ball game

  • Gamer

    I dont know have you seen the interest in the ps4 over 600000 on the gamestop info list also the developers support looks strong because they gave tham everything they asked for also its actually next gen I know it is not as huge a leap as last gen but the things that sell me are no load times and social media and of course graphics all things the wii u wont have all I can say is sony looks to be in the best position to succeed if anyone does

  • John Willaford

    Gamestop has over 900,000 registrations for when PS4 becomes availalbe, Amazon reportedly 2.1 million notifications already posted to tell people when they can preorder it. Uhm.. yeah, some interest!

  • Mickey Bigelow

    I have been expecting a slow transition. Not just because of being well feed. And ports will play a major part in it. The economy well it has been “improving” isn’t where it was in 2006. There was a survey featured on Kotaku that found only 20% of the “core” gamers for Sony and Microsoft will be upgrading in the launch window. And most posts I have read after the PS4 reveal, on the different multiplatform sites I visit, basically say interesting machine, will definitely get, but not until the go down to sub-$300 prices.

    It boils down to economics, the fans of each system who are going to buy the consoles have been saving for the launch for months, but by and large video game console purchases are an impulse buy, which makes a new console’s entrance price of $460+ for one console and a game seem steep to a current gen console they may not have and several games from a large established library most of which are at bargain prices.

    In addition if the Wii U launch taught the market anything it is that people will not buy the console on the promise of new games, that they will wait until the games are out to buy it. I know of several people who are going to buy the Wii U but are waiting until the The legend of Zelda or the new 3D Mario come out because of two things; one, they need to get the money together, and two, just in case the system gets a price cut. As much as the 3DS price cut helped turn things around for the system, in addition to getting games which the Wii U in my area is starting to sell again because of the new releases that are finally coming out. It set a bad precedent in the market, which is changing the consoles from a inpluse buy to something that we will wait and buy when we get money.