Veteran Bushnell "baffled" by Wii U, says this is the end of an era

Atari founder and games industry veteran Nolan Bushnell has predicted bad things for both Wii U and the wider console games industry.

I actually am baffled by it,” Bushnell told The New York Times of Nintendo’s new machine. I don’t think it’s going to be a big success. These things will continue to sputter along, but I really don’t think they’ll be of major import ever again.

It feels like the end of an era to me.”

Anyone that’s been in the games industry for any meaningful amount of time will be wary of betting against Nintendo. Both the DS and Wii were greeted with derision prior to their launch, and both went on to be massively commercial successes and arguably redefine the nature of mass-market gaming.

But that’s not to say that all of the questions being asked of Nintendo are without merit.

As has been widely documented, for all its quirks the Wii worked because anyone could pick up a Wii Remote and play. Anyone. The same can certainly not be said of the Wii U and its somewhat complicated relationship with the GamePad.

Bushnell ‘s era” comment, of course, references another spreading belief – that games consoles are heading for extinction and will be replaced by free-to-play gaming on devices such as tablet, browser and smartphone.

Again, the arguments for this school of thought are sound but it would take a brave man or woman to predict the death of consoles in their entirety.

The games market is unquestionably broader than ever before and publishers are working hard to attract emerging markets. But the hardcore console gamers have been there for 30 years now and don’t make the mistake of thinking that they’re all waiting to drop their hobby.

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