February 04, 2013

Wii U Using HTML5 to Offer Greater Developer Range

While the upcoming software release schedule for the Wii U may look a little pessimistic to those who follow it closely, there may be some cause for jubilation among the wide array of users in the market. Nintendo, based on reports from company CEO Satoru Iwata, is looking to branch out into other development platforms to help shore up the amount of software that can be used with Nintendo products. The more recent efforts include forays in Unity, JavaScript and HTML5.

Nintendo took a good look at the market and realized that developing so-called "triple-A" titles–or the major titles that consumers see on shelves–takes a lot of time and resources to fully develop, with uncertain results waiting on the other side. Add on the growth of indie game developers, the overall growth in Web technology and the increasing casual game market that Nintendo had previously quite well tapped in its release of the Wii console, and that’s got Nintendo looking at a whole new development strategy, one that it’s said to be planning to release more information about this March at the upcoming Game Developers Conference event.

However, some interesting possibilities can be gleaned from current events. For instance, some developments on Wii U already use Web browsing engines; Wii Street U, for example, uses Google (News Alert) Maps at its base. There are also several video on demand services, as well as Miiverse and Nintendo TVii, that use some Web-based technology and HTML5. Further, companies like Lost Decade Games have been bringing out similar technology that increases the total value of a gaming system, and recently, offered their service up for Wii U. Just visit the Lost Decade Games’ Wii U Browser page and users can start playing Onslaught!: Defense right from their Wii U with a systems update.

Admittedly, the performance is not what Lost Decade Games would have liked with Wii U–reports indicate that there will be neither audio nor save game support–but the basic idea is in place. HTML5 testing even put the Nintendo Wii U out in front of all other current gaming consoles for HTML5 support.

Nintendo is at something of a crossroads right now. The dominance in casual gaming it enjoyed with the release of the Wii is rapidly finding itself encroached upon by mobile devices, which can provide gaming so casual it can be done nearly anywhere at nearly any time. Nintendo’s ability to compete with the more "hard-core" gaming markets represented by PlayStation and Xbox console offerings is also significantly in doubt, as early comparisons between the Wii U and potential devices to be released from Sony and Microsoft (News Alert) suggest the Wii U will be swamped out of the gate. Therefore, Nintendo needs to protect its position somehow, and offering a better access to casual gaming through emerging technologies like HTML5 would be an excellent step in that direction.

This may well mark the beginning of a two-party console war, with Nintendo instead going forth to join the casual gaming wars, where it will take on iOS and Android (NewsAlert) rather than PlayStation and Xbox. The next couple years could be very interesting indeed as far as gaming goes, so it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey


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