How the Wii U is Shaping Up for Sports

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Posted September 15th, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Nintendo finally announced official details on the Wii U console dating November 18 for release with two different options available to purchase. The $300 “Basic” set comes with 8GB storage while the $350 “Deluxe” bundle features 32GB storage and Nintendo Land.¬†

Initial reaction trended negative with the price being higher than many expected given the power of the system being about on par with the Xbox 360 and PS3 and the miniscule hard drive capacity meaning an external storage device will probably be needed at some point if not immediately. Certainly though the tablet controller presents the main appeal and probably contributed the most to the final price and that’s something the other systems, even though cheaper, can’t match.

Sports game wise NBA 2K13, FIFA 13, and Madden NFL 13 have all been announced for the console’s launch window which runs from release through March. None have been specifically tabbed for November 18 yet with 2K13 still being slated for the “holiday season” and the other two only being noted to fall within the release window. Those three though have the potential to move onto that date and it would be surprising if at least two if not all of them ended up there.

The only sports-themed game confirmed for November 18 is ESPN Sports Connection from Ubisoft. If this trailer is any indication of how publishers are going to consider the Wii U it may follow the path of the Wii which essentially was void of serious products. Companies had no incentive to invest resources and instead turned to shovelware or ports that had no effort put behind them. Catering to such a casual demographic here could be a bad sign if that’s how other companies perceive the consumer base will be made up of.

Word however from EA Sports and 2K Sports is that they are going to attempt to produce titles that are of similar quality to those found on the other HD consoles while also taking advantage of the unique features the Wii U offers. Early screenshots have shown that graphically it will be a step down and reports have already surfaced that not all features will make it this first year (Madden going without the “Infinity Engine” physics) but for the first attempt on a console they appear to be shaping up fairly well.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the Wii U can gain any traction within sports gaming. The Wii was unable to do so – it had the golf market until Tiger Woods’ transgressions wrecked it for the family-friendly console – but the Wii U’s features could prove more valuable to the core gaming experience. That is at least¬†until Microsoft SmartGlass arrives and takes that advantage away with accessibility that can’t be matched by a secondary device.