The Nintendo Wii U, in both its $300 Basic Set and $350 Deluxe Set flavors, has always been light on memory. The Basic Set touts 8GB of internal flash memory storage on the box, but that’s before the console’s firmware is installed. Doing so leaves Wii U owners with just a measly 3GB of memory to save games on without the use of an external hard drive. That’s not even enough room to download the system’s signature title, NintendoLand. This is likely why the majority of Wii Us sold are the heftier Deluxe Set. Nintendo is running into problems with its digital distribution business even on that model, though. New games like Lego City Undercover can’t be downloaded to the console at all.
If anyone wants to buy the digital version of Lego City Undercover, they’ll need an external hard drive as well. The official website of the game actually includes a link titled “Learn how to download.”
“An external hard drive is required to download this software,” reads the message, “Visit support.nintendo.com for information about storage options.”
While Nintendo has yet to comment officially on the restriction, the reason why Lego City Undercover can’t be downloaded is that game clocks in at an impressive 22GB on the game disc. The Deluxe Set Wii U only has 25GB of available memory after downloading the system firmware.
The Nintendo Wii U has been plagued by basic functionality problems since the console released in November. Downloading and installing the necessary system firmware on Nintendo Wii U after purchasing it can take hours, and consoles sold today months after release still require that installation. Even after that though, the Wii U’s operating speed is crushingly slow, a problem severe enough that company president Satoru Iwata has had to publicly apologize for.
Long loading times affect the console’s exclusive software as well. Lego City Undercover is an excellent game according to early reviews, but as noted in Digital Trends’ review, the game is plagued by mid-game loading that can last anywhere from 40 seconds to two minutes.
Nintendo introduced only slight modifications to the Wii over the past seven years, adding in asked for functionality like the ability to load Virtual Console games from an SD card. Even the new firmware expected this spring that will improve loading times, the company will need to release a new model with significantly expanded memory if it expects its digital sales initiative to be a success.