Jan 31 2007

Wii is great, but PS3 is still going to win

It took me 6 phone calls, but I did get a Wii on December 26th, at a Circuit City near my house. By the time I got there, almost all of their units had gone. According to the employee, as soon as someone finds out they have the Wiis, people call their friends and the units are sold quickly.

It's still hard as hell to find extra controllers because of the ridiculous recall. I really don't understand how people could be throwing the controllers. Unless you are actually swinging the controller as fast as you would a 90 mph baseball, I really don't think the strap is going to break. Even then I kind of doubt it.

Nintendo has all the buzz right now, and Sony looks stupid. But I am predicting it won't last. The PS3 is going to win, eventually, mostly because it will outlast the Wii. The Wii is going to be a huge novelty for about a year, and then it has at most 1-2 years left. The graphics really are very jagged, with most people using 480i into their TV. I fear the machine can't handle any more than 480p anyway.

Why do graphics matter? I submit, as proof, this demo from Quantic Dreams: Heavy Rain (I recommend downloading the HD trailer.) This is the company that gave us the game Fahrenheit. What's important to note about this video is that it is not prerendered. The video is being rendered in real-time, and in my opinion it is finally coming out of the Uncanny Valley. Given that this is a preliminary demo, it's extremely believable, almost video-like quality. That means that we could soon have true 3D interactive full-motion video. We scan a human's likeness into the computer, mapped onto a complex polygon, and motion capture his mannerisms, facial expressions, etc. This will let us interact with a convincing person!

This is, of course, where we have been heading for a long time. Nintendo has made a short-term bet that people will go for the novelty of motion control, and they are winning that bet handily. But the Wii will be obsolete in about 2 years, especially graphically, but maybe even in terms of its motion-control, as Sony does its best to copy the scheme. At that point, Nintendo will have to release another console, Wii-2 or whatever, that compensates for this generation's lack of horsepower. Graphics matter, because they will allow people to interact with real humans instead of cartoons. If they don't, PS3 will easily retake the lead.