Atari founder 'baffled' by Wii U

Nolan Bushnell says "I don't think it's going to be a big success," adding that the console "feels like the end of an era."

One of the founding fathers of games is none too keen on the Nintendo Wii U. Speaking to the New York Times, Atari and Chuck E. Cheese's founder Nolan Bushnell said he doesn't think Nintendo will find much success with its new console.

“I actually am baffled by it," Bushnell said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a big success.”

Answering a subsequent question regarding the viability of new consoles from Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, Bushnell was similarly unenthusiastic. In fact, he said new consoles from the Big Three actually mark the end of an era instead of a beginning.

“These things will continue to sputter along, but I really don’t think they’ll be of major import ever again,” Bushnell said. “It feels like the end of an era to me.”

The Wii U launched in North America on Sunday at $300 for an 8GB basic model and $350 for a 32GB deluxe version. The system comes to Europe and Australia on November 30 and will launch in Japan on December 8.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

527 comments
worlock77
worlock77

Honestly, who cares what Bushnell thinks. He hasn't really been involved in the video game industry since 1978, so I'm not sure that his opinion on the modern industry is particularly relevant.

Miollnir
Miollnir

He's just pissed that Atari botched the chance to produce the NES in America for Nintendo back in 1983.

fastfoodjunkie
fastfoodjunkie

yeah, a credible statement from the one's who caused the Video Game crash. He didn't even cite any reason why it is not going to be a big success. End of an era? Yeah, that already happened long time ago, end of era for  Atari consoles.

Sweendrix
Sweendrix

I wonder if Bushnell has considered that it might just be a generation of gamers that are retiring because they now have kids and jobs.  Fear not, because this generation of gamers will pass down the joy of a good Zelda or Mario game to their children.  With this, I have no doubt. 

bmart970
bmart970

Anyone think it's weird that a Japanese console releases in the US before Japan?

n0matter
n0matter

He's right.  But Nintendo IPs and ports will keep this thing going for a good 5 years.  Meanwhile, a new $500 Sony and MS console are going to be less than appealing for what they're going to offer in terms of upgrades to current gameplay; you can't get much more photorealistic than what we already have.  And dev costs for new hardware are going to be through the roof.  Graphics whores are effectively killing console gaming by demanding iteration after iteration of the same visually-intensive FPS crap that we've been seeing for the past 8 years or so.  When did gaming become so much about how a game looks and nothing else?

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

Consoles will live on if somebody manufactures something along the lines of the much fabled 'steam console'. Plays like a PC with the accessability of a console.

slainta
slainta

Let's face it: the next generation will be the last generation for consoles, at least as we known them. The computing power on PC already greatly surpasses the creativity. Also to go above 1080p doesn't make much sense, due to the limits of the human eye. There won't be much that could not be done with the new HW. And please don't bring the true realism argument. Not everyone care about it, games like Mine Crafts are all but realistic and still they are the most popular. The only thing that we'll see with even more powerful HW will be more PC crybabies complaining that the games do not fully use their crappy gaming rig. 

deadline
deadline

I really don't know why the press still gives this guy the time of day. He has been out of touch for so long and has repeatedly demonstrated this. Who cares what he thinks?

 

Also, I'd like to point out that the video game industry has only collapsed once, and that was largely Atari's fault.

PlayballK
PlayballK

I can see down the road there being no dedicated consoles, but streaming content to a set-top box like Roku.  What I do think will happen is still having portable consoles like the 3DS and Vita.  Some gamers won't want to play on a smart phone.  I don't mind playing on a phone for a basic game, but they are too limiting for something that needs more advanced controls.

Gamertag-TFTW
Gamertag-TFTW

Wii U does suck and so does Sony and Microsoft - they'd be dead in the water without third parties.

Buck_Swaggler
Buck_Swaggler

It must hurt a father to watch his progeny dying from self destructive behavior and greed after growing so strong and influential.

SS4kronos33
SS4kronos33

hahahahaha. what does nolan bushnell know about video games these days????he has been out of the busines what 30 years???he is just pissed his former company crashed the market,is NO LONGER a contender in the console biz,and is nothing more than a meaningless little 3rd party game developer.atari lasted what 20 but the console lasted what 15 years tops.maybe the guy should play a wii u before he comments on it.i would like to throw a copy of E.T and PAC MAN at him just for fun and say thanks for trash like this

stonefang
stonefang

I think there will always be a market for consoles as long as people like to play games. By the way I hated my Atari when I was a kid.

beyond_17
beyond_17

Atari founder 'baffled' by Wii U

 

ROFL am sure hes not the only one, uncle Iwata also had no idea what he was doing when he put this POS together

jhcho2
jhcho2

Seems like a paradox statement. You can't mark the beginning of a new era without also marking the end of another. And if the previous era was memorable, of course you'll have more attachment to something you know than something you don't know. Is he trying to win a 'captain obvious' award?

Zerot
Zerot

he is very correct on this assesment nintendo has hat rock bottom... really sad to see it in this state developers wont even make games for it anymore because of its low cpu power.

 

coop36
coop36

How are Atari and Chuck E. Cheese doing these days Bushnell? Yeah, if anyone knows how to run a company into the ground this is the guy to talk to alright. lol

Supabul
Supabul

I wish everything would just go DD, It's getting irritating listen to Dev's wish Console would die already

 

I'm surprised he didn't say IOS & ipad gaming is the future or Onlive how's that doing

 

 

franzito
franzito

He sounds much more like a non-believer than a blabbermouth it seems.

jeremyc99999
jeremyc99999

Normally I would absolutely disagree, but after finally trying Steam last Friday, I can sort of see where he is coming from. However, I don't see consoles fading anytime in the next couple decades.

mrme89
mrme89

I would have liked to know why he thinks it won't succeed. This articular was a wast of time...

orbit991
orbit991

I really don't care much about any of this, but the host is so funny and entertaining I just keep watching.

00J
00J

Nintendo should have made a SNES II instead.

hatieshorrer
hatieshorrer

Sounds more like the ramblings of a game designer out of touch with current gamers.

mariokart64fan
mariokart64fan

lmfao@ atari , even though i liked tdu tdu 2 , , i must say ----what rights do they have to say --oh the wiii u the 720 the ps4 arent important,  

lets all face the facts one way or another all 3 contribute more to the market then atari ever did -in fact their only notable console was the 2600 after that they had failure after failure  5200 any one  that thing had a controller that broke easily according to avgn , 

jaguar i know for a fact was a flop other wise theyd still be here lol   

 the market is big enough for\ all 3 if this gen is any indicator sony just needs to start making some profit like nintendo has 

iempire68
iempire68

because atari is such a glaring success????? atari is not one to point out failure. Jaguar anyone? miserable flop. Wii U will be fine.

Agelu
Agelu

So what, then? Should have Nintendo kept the mindless arms race for merely "omg look at those graphics!!"

 

Eh, no, thanks. I rather welcome innovation. Ninty loves to risk it, but like it or not, the whole gaming industry has almost always followed on Nintendo's steps. Get over it.

darkbuster_exe
darkbuster_exe

No offense to Bushnell, but Nintendo essentially dominated Atari when Nintendo was actually looking for partnership with them, put the nails in Atari's coffin, especially with the Gameboy, & had a much longer consistent run as a relevant company.

 

Sure he went on to find success in Chuck E. Cheese's, but Yamauchi schooled him pretty hard on how to run a game company.

69ingChimpmunks
69ingChimpmunks

What kills Nintendo though is that their online play is just non-existent. Not trying to diss them but when you think of playing online, You think of Xbox and PS3, Nintendo doesn't even come up in the conversation. I think if they started building up their online aspect more then they'd be a far bigger threat to Microsoft and Sony.

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

 @slainta Oddly enough, of all the games i've played this year, I think the one I would have to give my game of the year to would be Minecraft 360.

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

 @jhcho2 I know. For me, the best era was the last (PS2), but the PS1/N64 era did have some claasics I sometimes wistfully think back to.

NightsOwl
NightsOwl

 @Supabul I'd have to respectfully disagree. With DD comes problems. Like being banned = Losing all your games. Even if someone's acting like a baboon it doesn't mean they should lose the games they paid money for. 

 

Then again, I'm assuming DD means Direct Download. Or Digital Download. -shrug-

SeAzhrei
SeAzhrei

@00J Now THAT I would SO pay triple digits for!

suprsolider
suprsolider

 @mariokart64fan

Your dead wrong. Without Atari CREATING THE MARKET IN THE FIRST PLACE, we wouldn't have games period.

Get your facts right. It was because of Bushnell and Atari with the success of Pong that created the market. 

 

Stupid kids these days, obviously not paying enough attention in school.

Vodoo
Vodoo

 @mariokart64fan Your wrong. Back in the day, Atari WAS the market. Their console and their games was it. There were thousands of games made for the Atari 2600. Atari was pretty much the game industry founder. They contributed more to the game industry than any other company. Without them, Nintendo would still be making Plachinko machines.

deathstream
deathstream

 @iempire68

 

 Someone who experienced the last video game bust first hand sounds like a good person to listen to.  Home computers, tablets and consoles are merging.  The days of consoles as we know them are probably limited.  The next generation could well be the last.  I am not saying it won't be a successful generation, but the age of consoles is nearing the end.  By the time the PS5 cycle arrives, other technologies will have rendered traditional consoles obsolete.

 

It doesn't mean that gaming is dead, but the idea of a dedicated gaming machine with a 5 year lifespan is probably on its last leg.

NightsOwl
NightsOwl

 @Agelu I'm actually surprised there's people who think like that. That's what I've been thinking since the N64 days. New ways to play are always more interesting then just something more visually appealing.

 

S'why I love the big N. 

suprsolider
suprsolider

 @darkbuster_exe 

Bushnell wasn't running Atari then. Do you people do any research? Seriously. To get the 2600 to market Bushnell sold Atari to Warner Communications aka Time Warner. Nolan was then thrown out and Ray Kassar was put in charge of Atari.

Do your homework before spouting crap.

Harrydapro
Harrydapro

 @69ingChimpmunks Most people who use Nintendo products play local multiplayer rather than online multiplayer. 

psx_warrior
psx_warrior

 @NightsOwl  @Supabul

 As far as loosing all your games go, you would if you had a Wii or Wii U, but not PS3 or PC with Steam.  You can always redownload them if your harddrive crashes and you loose it all.  The downside of course is having to always have an internet connection for that.  Having not had a home connection thanks to the monopoly known as at&t and their massive screw up during my move into my new home barely 30 feet away, I can see why people would have a problem with DD, but it's still the best way to get games because the middle man is often cut out.

 

I'll be getting cable internet soon, so at&t can can go some place really hot.

Meta-Gnostic
Meta-Gnostic

 @deathstream  @iempire68 While I agree, I don't put much faith in what Nolan says anymore. He is biased and has had too many failures in the gaming industry after his early success (losing to Nintendo and Sony). He would love to see their consoles eventually fail.

 

Anyone with some common sense can see that technology will usurp dedicated game consoles sometime soon, even if that means micro-consoles. I think cloud-gaming is ultimately what will happen.

SeAzhrei
SeAzhrei

@NightsOwl @Agelu I can agree with caveot. I still feel that motion controls in general were never yet strong enough to build an entire console around. In that regard I feel like N was a little TOO far ahead of the curve and should have stepped back a bit till the tech caught up.

darkbuster_exe
darkbuster_exe

 @suprsolider 

Tch, you're neither the only or first (I'm assuming, because backlogging on the Livefyre system isn't as convenient as the old one) to point that out in this article. Plus there's more than enough documentation on the history in easy reach on the internet.

 

The point I was getting at was that Bushnell really doesn't have any leeway to challenge Nintendo's decisions, when being the only 'gaming only' company left with a console at this point, Nintendo has clearly navigated the business better than anyone else so far.

psx_warrior
psx_warrior

 @Harrydapro  @69ingChimpmunks

 At one time I had a Wii myself and played SSBB online.  The experience wasn't worth a crap half the time, but when it worked, it was a total blast.  IMO, being able to play Nintendo games online at all is a blessing, even if it's laggy half the time.

la_boomstick
la_boomstick

 @psx_warrior  @NightsOwl  @Supabul I never had a problem re-downloading the litany of VC games I purchased when my first Wii crashed (post warranty coverage), nor do I foresee having a problem if my Wii U dies.

 

It's amazing how helpful customer service can be if you call and request help. 

psx_warrior
psx_warrior

 @darkbuster_exe  @suprsolider

 I don't know.  Microsoft has done a pretty good job navigating the business.  Sure helps to have deep pockets of cash to buy your way to success.  I really hate that company.