Nintendo’s full comments on Wii U visuals and architecture
This is another topic that we covered extensively during the weekend, but Nintendo has now made an official translation available. Read on below for comments from Shigeru Miyamoto, Satoru Iwata, and Genyo Takeda regarding Wii U’s visuals, tech, and hardware powering the console.
Lighting is an inevitable factor to make use of high-definition images. We did not actively use technologies to render high-end graphics in real time for software development for Wii and previous consoles. Therefore, although the name “Wii” was handed down from Wii to Wii U, we needed to hold many workshops to learn about such technologies. We already went through this initial learning phase and are now tackling how to take full advantage of high-definition graphics. In this sense, retraining our developers used to be a great hurdle. Thank you for appreciating the video we disclosed last May. All of our development team would be glad to hear that. (Iwata: I am sure the graphics are now much better.) We really enjoy creating images that are so lifelike that it is as if Pikmin were actually living there. We think Pikmin is suitable for computer graphics. At the last E3 show, we showed video footage of Pikmin wandering around me in my room backstage and then I actually appeared on stage with them. We would like more people to experience videos featuring Pikmin. In this effort, when you visit movie theaters operated by a movie chain, TOHO Cinemas, you will see Pikmin with the logo of TOHO Cinemas before a movie starts. Also, when you see a 3D movie there, you will see Pikmin and a monster called Bulborb racing around in a demo video to urge you to wear 3D glasses. I hope you will go to see it and look forward to the game which features Pikmin.
(Questioner: Is the current development structure suitable for the new architecture?)
We have not specifically changed it. We have just put the right development staff members in the right place to raise the level of each development phase. The other point is that many of our third-party software developers have been dedicated to technologies like shaders. As Wii U is designed to bring out their real strengths, there have recently been more cases where we develop something with their help. It has been more convenient for us to work together with them because they have been able to more smoothly utilize their know-how for development for Wii U.
I may add that each game console has its own unique qualities, and developers must go through a trial and error phase to acquire the knack of taking full advantage of them. This time does not come until a final version of the hardware and development tools for the version have been made available and then a base for software development has been established. For Wii U, such a time finally came in the latter half of last year. In this sense, we could not avoid the trial and error stage to create games which take full advantage of the hardware. I think that this is true for third-party software developers as well as Nintendo’s. The home consoles of other companies are six or seven years old and software developers have sufficiently studied them and know how to take full advantage of them well. As Wii U is new to them, some developers have already acquired the knack and made good use of its features and others have not. You might see this gap among the games that are currently available. However, we are not much concerned about this problem because time will eventually solve it. Actually, we believe that our in-house development teams have almost reached the next stage. It is not true that we are deadlocked with a lot of trouble in our development. Otherwise, we could not aim for 100 billion yen or more in operating profit for the next fiscal year. Here, I would like Mr. Takeda to tell you about the architecture of the Wii U hardware.
Genyo Takeda (Senior Managing Director, General Manager of Integrated Research and Development Division):
I don’t want to talk about anything too technical, but in my view, Wii U is a console with low power consumption and has fairly high performance. Regarding your comment that we focus on the GPU and that the CPU is a little poor, we have a different view. It depends on how to evaluate a processing unit. In terms of die size (area a chip occupies), the GPU certainly occupies a much larger space than the CPU. As you can see CPUs used for the latest PCs and servers, however, it is usual for current CPUs that the logic part for actual calculations is really small and that the cache memory called SRAM around it covers a large area. From this angle, we don’t think that the performance of the Wii U’s CPU is worse than that of the GPU. In other words, we have taken a so-called “memory-intensified” design approach for the Wii U hardware. It is no use saying much about hardware which should remain in the background in our entertainment offerings, but at least we think that Wii U performs pretty well.
In regard to GPUs, they are so advanced that other companies in the video game market seem to be on the same path. Developers have also been accustomed to programmable shaders to create games. In this sense, we think that the entire industry, including Nintendo, has had less trouble in this field than in the time when shaders were emerging.