Nintendo is playing a high-stakes comeback game in the $34 billion a year video game industry. After losing $460 million last year, it's counting on a new console, the Wii U, to put it back in the black and it's betting on a new style of controller with a built-in 6.2-inch color screen.
There is a new term that comes with the launch of the Wii U and the new game pad called "asymmetrical game play." "The person with the gamepad is having a completely different experience than the person playing with the Wii remote," Nintendo spokesperson Krysta Yang explained.
Yang gave ABC7 a demonstration using the game Super Mario U. "Mike is playing as Mario on the big TV. He sees all the scary stuff on the TV. I'm using the gamepad and the touch-screen to help him along by putting down these boost blocks. So, as I go along, you can see that I can help him get to higher places or help him get power-ups or block enemies," she said.
Nintendo has a competitive window of opportunity because Sony and Microsoft aren't expected to release updates to its PS3 and Xbox 360 until next year. Critics say Nintendo is long overdue to upgrade the original Wii that came out six years ago. Game reviewer and CNET.com Senior Editor Brian Tong says the Wii U's new two-screen approach isn't a sure hit. Hardcore gamers who have seen it are lukewarm toward it.
"Consumers are now watching TV and surfing the internet on their tablets, so they're trying to take that behavior and bring it to gaming. It does offer unique experiences, but is it unique enough for me to be able to want to watch two different screens? That's a challenge," he says.
Another challenge is new competition from low-cost games you can play on smartphones and tablets. The console-based video game industry has seen sales drop $7 billion over the past four years. Nintendo will try to add value to its Wii U by offering video conferencing no one else has.