According to a TVTropes user, the Wii U has had its performance boosted through the most recent software patch. This user failed to include any legitimate source, offering the article changes to simply be perceived as one of the many fans that participate in the console war, looking to make their game system sound better with the dawn of superior technology on the console horizon. That being said, that does not prevent game journalists running a news story based on this ultimately untrustworthy and lone source.
NintendoLife, a Nintendo oriented gaming website partnered with Eurogamer, decided that this “rumour” is worth sharing with their readers. Now, I have no personal issue with sharing rumours with your audience, but when the source is a single person changing a public page with absolutely no source, that’s when defining that news as a “rumour” becomes a bit of a stretch. Of course, that isn’t the only issue here.
The author, McFerren, first quotes his source entirely, describing the apparent new specifications of the Wii U system. The TVTropes poster states that the Wii U has had its processing speed improved from 1.24GHz to 3.24GHz. Given the current specifications are capable of playing titles that both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are capable of playing, this would suggest that the Wii U’s performance would be enhanced far beyond the capabilities of either current generation systems. Additionally, the graphics processing clock speed has been improved from 550MHz to 800MHz, according to the poster. Let’s take a look at the viability of this claim.
Firstly, this clock speed enhancement is obviously a result of software, given that this is due to the recent firmware update. As of such, this new clock speed must be possible to achieve with the current hardware that the Wii U consists of. This boost could only ever be possibly achieved through “overclocking“. Simply put, this process is possible; however, there are repercussions. Increasing the amount of work, or “cycles”, of the processor results in even more heat from the processor. Unless additional measures to reduce heat are ensured, overclocking can result in the processor overheating or even cracking. Consequently, a boost of such extreme measures as McFerren quotes would undoubtedly result in damage to the console. That is, unless the Wii U’s processor was already severely “underclocked”. Of course, that would then beg the question as to why would Nintendo release an intentionally hindered system. Additionally, this would require the tech to be better than it currently is, or otherwise the cost of producing such technology would also be higher (thus resulting in ridiculous price drops such as this being even more ridiculous).
McFerren seems–at least even somewhat–aware of just how unlikely this would be. Perhaps it may be worth asking why this article is a problem when the author states that it is unlikely? The point is that the article is still ambiguous enough in that some readers may believe it. Rather than debunking it, or just outright ignoring this “rumour” entirely, McFerren opts to entertain the possibility to something that has no possibility. Not given the nature of the source and the extreme unlikelihood of this boost even happening.
McFerren still writes, “However, there’s no smoke without fire […]”, forgetting that his source is an anonymous individual on the console’s page on TV Tropes. There’s no “fire” here. I could easily contribute to TVTropes by adding in additional details, such as stating that “The next Call of Duty will be a Wii U exclusive”. Would this also be branded worthy of posting as a rumour and entertaining? It’s almost just as viable as this current “rumour”. That’s not to deny that there’s a possibility that there may have been a performance boost, albeit not as extreme as the TV Tropes poster said, but there’s just as much cause for speculation of this now as there was when the Wii U launched.