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Developers claim Wii U weaker than PS3, 360. Nintendo says focus on “play,” not “numbers.”

The PlayStation 4 may block the usage of used games and the Xbox 720 may make the jump to using Blu-ray discs. We don’t know. All the rumors and speculation about Orbis and Durango are just that: rumors and speculation. What we can be sure of is that both machines will feature significant graphical upgrades over the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Nintendo’s next machine though, the Wii U, may not be able to make the same claim. According to some developers, Nintendo’s first HD console can’t output graphics that are even on par with Microsoft and Sony’s current machines.

Developers speaking with GamesIndustry International on Monday had more than a few disparaging comments in store for Nintendo’s upcoming tablet-controlled console. “It’s not up to same level as the PS3 or the 360. The graphics are just not as powerful,” said one source.

A representative of Nintendo of America neither confirmed nor denied the report for Digital Trends. “We do not focus on technology specs. We understand that people like to dissect graphics and processing power, but the experience of playing will always be more important than raw numbers.”

Small comfort to developers that must develop for multiple platforms for their games to be commercially viable.

Another source cited as a “developer at a major company” supported the first source’s claim. “Yeah, that’s true. It doesn’t produce graphics as well as the PS3 or the 360. There aren’t as many shaders, it’s not as capable,” said the source. It isn’t all bad news though. “Some things are better, mostly as a result of it being a more modern design. But overall the Wii U just can’t quite keep up.”

Nintendo has yet to disclose just what the Wii U is and isn’t capable of. The majority of games already announced for the device are PS3 and 360 games though, including Ninja Gaiden 3, Batman: Arkham City, and unreleased titles like Darksiders II and Aliens: Colonial Marines. Based on these developers’ comments though, those titles may not look quite as nice as they do on competing machines.

It’s possible that the Wii U’s poor graphical prowess is a concession made for its unique controller. The tablet isn’t just a control interface, it’s been positioned as an independent play screen, letting the player enjoy a game on the controller rather than a television the Wii U’s hooked up to. If Nintendo has devoted more of the device’s resources to accommodating that process rather than investing in a beefier GPU, that could explain what developers are reporting.