Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Valve Software Praises Nintendo Wii, Criticizes Own Roadmap

Nintendo Wii has taken the hearts of gamers by storm, but it still needs to capture the attitude of game developers to really remain the best selling game console of the latest generation. Gabe Newell of Valve Software said that Wii does represent a lot of potential and the lack of games for Wii in the company’s plans was claimed to be a drawback of the software developer.
“You can’t think of it as graphics, CPU, texture bandwidth scaling, you have to think of it as more fundamentally, and I think it’s more valuable. I think it’s more interesting than just graphics chip – CPU combination. […] The fact that we don’t have anything in development on it even though it represents big opportunities as a whole, it’s an obvious hole in our strategy,” said Gabe Newell, the founder and managing director of Valve Software, in an interview with Game Informer web-site.
Nintendo Wii is the least technically advanced new-generation game console. Its success is a direct result of its relatively low price of $249 as well as unique motion-sensitive control devices. The main target markets for Wii are casual gamers, children and those new to video gaming. According to market observers, Nintendo Wii was acquired by over 10.5 million of gamers worldwide in less than a year, which means that it does make sense for game developers to put more effort into creating new titles for Nintendo Wii or Microsoft Xbox 360, but not put much effort into Sony PlayStation 3, which was sold through in 4.3 million quantities in nine months.
But it is not that easy to develop games for Wii, claims the head of Valve Software. Wii does not have a powerful graphics processing unit or central processing unit. The main advantage of Nintendo Wii is motion-sensitive controller, which may change game experience fundamentally compared to a similar game on other game consoles.
“I think the Wii represents more of a challenge because of its input. You can think of the Xbox 360 as pretty much a PC and a PlayStation as kind of a PC. The Wii gives you a bunch of problems that don’t fit into that model,” Mr. Newell said, but did not announce whether Valve’s games, such as Half Life, will be eventually available for Nintendo Wii, just like they are going to be available for Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3.
Nintendo Wii console features IBM’s custom PowerPC architecture-based microprocessor named Broadway clocked at 729MHz and code-named Hollywood chip with built-in graphics core, DSP and I/O features from ATI that operates at 243MHz, earlier reports suggested. Nintendo Wii uses 91MB of memory in total: 23MB of “main” 1T-SRAM, 64MB of “external” 1T-SRAM and 3MB texture buffer on the GPU. Nintendo’s Wii does not feature a hard disk drive, instead, it boasts with 512MB of flash memory, but the console will also have a card reader, which will allow installing more memory.
Nintendo set the recommended retail price of ¥25 000 (about $204) in Japan, $249 in the U.S. and €249 ($342) in Europe.

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