EA: We're 'blown away' by the Wii U

A top exec at Electronic Arts says his company can envision several of its prominent franchises, including Battlefield, making an appearance on Nintendo's upcoming console.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read
Video conferencing on the Wii U controller. Screenshot by CNET

At least one developer is impressed by Nintendo's upcoming Wii U console.

Frank Gibeau, president of Electronic Arts' Games Label, told GamesIndustry.biz in an interview published yesterday, that the Wii U immediately impressed the game developer when managers first got their eyes on the device. And he sees a strong future for his company's games on the platform.

"We were really blown away by the unique innovation that Nintendo brings with the Wii U controller on a high-performance machine," Gibeau told GamesIndustry.biz. "The ability to do HD graphics and access game experiences in a completely novel way and a way that's never been seen before, it really struck our fancy.

"We were excited by what Nintendo presented to us, we thought about it, and it fits well with what we're trying to do with our franchises like FIFA and Madden and Battlefield," Gibeau continued.

Nintendo unveiled details on the Wii U at the E3 game expo earlier this month. The device features high-definition graphics--a feature lacking in the current Wii--and comes with a new touch-screen-equipped controller that lets people interact with games in a different way than they're currently accustomed. For example, in a promotional video, Nintendo showed how players can swipe their hands across the controller toward the screen to throw objects. Another video clip showed the Wii U being placed on the ground for people to see their ball in a sand trap in a golf game.

That functionality is getting Gibeau awfully excited for the future. He told GamesIndustry.biz that with the Wii U, "there's great horsepower there, great innovation and Nintendo's got fantastic branding."

Not everyone is so excited about the Wii U. Earlier this month, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said the console might be coming to the market too late. Even worse, Pachter is concerned that the device won't be more powerful than the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, setting the stage for some criticism from those who expect more graphical prowess in the device.

"We think that Wii U is arriving two years late, given that the other HD consoles already have peripherals for movement," Pachter wrote to investors earlier this month. "As Nintendo did not provide any specifics around the new console's power or pricing (Nintendo used PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 game footage in the Wii U presentation), we are assuming that the Wii U is unlikely to provide greater power than the current HD consoles."

Pachter went on to say that the console's pricing will either make it a "phenomenal success or a phenomenal failure."

EA's excitement over the Wii U stands in stark contrast to the company's attitudes towards Nintendo's Wii. Late last year, EA CEO John Riccitiello said that he was frustrated with Nintendo's handling of third parties on the Wii. He told IndustryGamers in an interview that Nintendo has a tendency to look out for its own game properties.

"I can come up with a dozen titles in the last decade, but it's really tough to come up with a dozen great titles that have been platform-defining for them that weren't their own," Riccitiello told IndustryGamers. "I don't care whether it's Mario or Twilight Princess or GoldenEye, it was their own content. I'm going back to [Nintendo 64], and I can go back to SNES if you want, but they've never really been a heavy third-party supporting system.

"It's not lack of trying," Riccitiello went on to say. "They start the morning thinking what's best for their own intellectual property."

So far, EA is seeing something different in the Wii U. But the company will need to wait some time for its Wii U titles to hit store shelves: the console isn't expected to launch until next year.