Just 3GB of free space on a Basic Wii U?

The latest Nintendo Direct video has Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata spending a good portion explaining the capacity limitations of their upcoming Wii U… using glass jars and coloured beads! I kid you not! It’s probably to help make it easier to understand for those that have a little trouble knowing the difference between their megabytes and gigabytes.

The Nintendo Wii arrived with 512MB of internal memory. In the long run it clearly was not large enough to store downloaded games and saves, prompting people to invest in an SD card. Nintendo seem to have learnt from this by increasing the memory size for their upcoming Wii U. The console is available as a Basic model with 8GB of space, or a Premium model with 32GB of space.

However, once you purchase the console and format it for use, you’re actually left with 7.2 GB on the Basic version and 29 GB on the Premium version. After a 4.2GB software install for your player account data, as well as system firmware and day one patch (yes, 4.2 GB!) this is then reduced to just 3GB of free space on the Basic model, while on the Premium version you have 25GB.

Almost as if to assume that people need this simplified, Nintendo visualises this via the use of glass jars and multi coloured beads, with different colours representing data and games. Skip to 4:15:

So if you purchase a Basic Wii U, once you’re all set up and ready to go, the 3GB of free space doesn’t seem like a lot to play with, especially when you consider that New Super Mario Bros. U takes up 2GB. The video also shows what will happen if you try to download the 3.2 GB sized Nintendo Land (represented as green beeds) on a Basic Wii U. It obviously won’t fit!

One could argue that maybe it’s a ploy to have people pay more to purchase the Premium version, but it all depends on the gamer and the games they download. For some, the need to download games to their console might not even factor in at all.  

It’s worth noting that a Wii U game disc can hold up to 25GB of data. So far, no game has managed to use up a whole disc, however Tekken Tag Tournament 2 takes up a huge 16.7GB. With a game taking up that much space there’s absolutely no way that anyone would be able to install it on a Basic Wii U, whereas on a Premium Wii U you’re left with little room.

So what’s Nintendo’s answer to the space limitations? Buy an external hard drive! As if paying for the console and some games wasn’t already enough, they actually suggest that you spend some extra cash on an external hard drive, with the recommendation that it be one that is plugged into the mains. If it isn’t then you’ll need a Y-cable. According to Iwata, the console will support hard drives up to 2TB in size (if you plug a 3TB hard drive in, it won’t be recognised). Once formatted for your Wii U, you won’t be able to use it with other devices, such as your PC, unless you’re okay with reformatting and losing all your data. You can use a USB flash memory drive, but due to the drive’s cycling capabilities Nintendo offers no guarantees that games will fully work with one.

The Wii U will support SD cards, right up to 32GB SDHC cards. However, they will largely be used for Wii save data, Wii Virtual Console games and any other Wii stuff you might have. You cannot save anything Wii U (be it games or save data) to an SD card.

So the message here is that if you are going to buy a Wii U then you’ll need to budget for a large hard drive as well… because Nintendo didn’t. Though one can only imagine how much the retail price would be if an ample sized hard drive were included. However, for those of you that already have one, then it could mean a difference of about £50 depending on which model you go for – Basic or Premium.

The console will first go on sale in the US on 18th November. The Wii U is available in the UK on 30th November, followed by Japan on 8th December.

Are you purchasing a Wii U? Does this news affect which model you’ll be buying?

Sources: CNET | Kotaku

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