I haven’t written a blog for 3 days, which I know is a while, but it was the weekend and I was very busy and Monday I felt like crap. Anyway, I was reading an article on IGN about how Call Of Duty: Ghosts is not yet confirmed for the Wii U and it got me thinking. I wanted to write an article on this a while ago but I never got round to it. So here it is: why developers aren’t interested in, well, developing for Nintnedo’s newest console.
It’s actually really important to note that all of the things I say below about why devs don’t like the Wii U are linked. All of the issues with the console go hand in hand to create a device that ultimately isn’t good to make games for.
It’s More Effort To Develop For
You can view the Wii U’s nifty tablet controller as a plus. Or you can view it as a con that weighs it down. In a way it’s both, but unfortunately, to developers at least, it’s far more of a problem. Why? Why is this added feature that was supposed to change the way we play and the way devs develop disliked? Simply because it’s so much more hassle, really. You don’t HAVE to incorporate it into your game, but it’s one of the highlight features of the Wii U; you’d be cutting corners and ignoring what seems like the ‘point’ of the entire console if you didn’t implement any gameplay features that utilised the use of the tablet controller.
The thing is that devs develop mainly for the likes the PS3 and Xbox 360. Why? Well because of popularity of course (popularity is also noted below as an issue with the Wii U). The PS3 and Xbox are the most popular consoles of this gen. The Wii U may be ‘new’ and what Nintendo wants to call the ‘next-gen’ but in truth the device is more the ‘next-gen’ of Nintendo consoles. Not consoles on the whole (which, again, we’ll touch on a bit later).
The Wii U’s extra bit of tablet tech is cool but it takes extra effort to use. To put a game developed on Xbox onto the PS3, all the devs need to do is port it and clean up the bugs it has. Sure some issues occur but they’re often nothing that can’t be fixed. However due to the Wii U’s extra requirements, a simple port won’t really suffice. It’s far more effort to develop for the Wii U than other consoles.
However it would be totally worth it, right, if the Wii U was popular. And is it popular? Well that’s another issue entirely…
Less Fans & Popularity
It wouldn’t be a big deal having to go to the extra effort of porting a game to or developing it entirely for the Wii U if it was actually popular. Unfortunately the Wii U isn’t that popular. As of late April 2013 it’s sold over 3 million units. Which isn’t much. Respectable, but for a piece of tech that requires extra effort to develop for from developers, that isn’t a good number. If devs are going to put in extra money and time just for the Wii U, their going to want borderline guarantee that their game is going to sell well on that platform. If you’re a still a bit skeptical about what I’m saying, maybe this figure will help:
The Wii U, as of late April 2013, has sold over 3 million units.
Bioshock Infinite, as couple of days ago, has sold nearly 4 million units.
Now what I’m saying here is not that a game has surpassed Nintendo’s console’s sale figures and that’s stupid, what I’m saying is that a game has sold more copies than there are Wii U users. If Infinite had only been released on the Wii U (in fact, in real life it wasn’t even released on it at all) it would have been IMPOSSIBLE, even if EVERY SINGLE WII U USER BOUGHT IT, for Infinite to get as many sales as it has now.
I know, I know; Bioshock Infinite was released on PC, Xbox 360 AND PS3 and if you want to work it out in a very generic way then you could say that that means Infinite has sold around 1.3 million copies PER platform it is on. And obviously there are more than double that many users of the Wii U.
However I’d also like to pose the question: how many of those 3+million users actually, well, USE their console? Not as many as you’d think. In recent years Nintendo’s consoles have appealed more to casual gamers who either rarely game or, when they do, play games like Mario and Animal Crossing. So how many of THOSE do you think would be totally into a first person shooter like Bioshock Infinite? Exactly. A lack of popularity means there is little reason for devs to go out of their way to develop for the Wii U and risk more money. So far the Wii U isn’t looking a good investment for anyone. And it’s clear why.
It Doesn’t Move Consoles Forward
The PS4 looks pretty awesome and no doubt the next Xbox will rival it well too. They’re both consoles that will move the industry forward. They’ll give devs more options and do a better job of matching the gorgeous visuals that PC gaming offers. They’re going to move consoles forward.
This is something the Wii U does not do. And why should any developer or publisher waste time with something that’s as good as a fad, just like the first Wii? A tablet controller does not pass, by anyones standards, as ‘moving the industry forward’. It’s a gameplay feature at most. To really move forward you need to have a technical edge more than anything. Things like the Kinect and PSMove prove this easily (they too lack popularity and success and they are gameplay features that offer little technical awesomeness).
And where is the Wii U’s technical edge? Where is it? It doesn’t have one. It doesn’t exist. The Wii U has nothing new or technically brilliant to offer developers. It will be outdated the moment the next Playstation and Xbox are released. And, as I said before, why does anyone want to invest and spend time working with a console that does nothing for them?
The Wii U has little popularity. And the fans it does have might be mostly casual gamers that don’t like hardcore games for all devs and publishers know. That is, after all, the audience Nintendo has been attracting recently. It also has little edge over even the current Xbox and PS consoles in terms of technical ability. It does nothing new except offer a tablet controller that, if anything, makes the console HARDER to develop for. And why spend the extra time, effort and money on something with the above issues? It makes zero sense from any perspective. Especially a business one. And gaming is a business. First and foremost.
I’m sorry for being so harsh on the Wii U. I know Nintendo has a shit ton of lovers and I’m not trying to be a hater. I’m just being brutally honest. I love Nintendo to bits. They produce some of the most consistently brilliant and borderline perfect exclusives like Mario and Pokemon and Animal Crossing and I have awesome memories of using their products and playing their games. But I don’t see a future, or much of one at least, for the Wii U. Especially not with the more hardcore audience it seems to be wanting to attract. Nintendo need to step up their game and stop marketing themselves as these softy, plushy, casual game and console developers. That is if they really want to attract more serious gamers and be taken, in general, more seriously themselves.
What are your thoughts on Nintendo’s current predicament and the Wii U itself? Leave a comment below!
Like What You Read? Yah? Then take a look at my blog michaelthekyle.blogspot.co.uk for way more, exclusive, content. Follow me on twitter too @mookyst.
Don't let cyber attacks kill your game! Join GamesBeat's Dean Takahashi for a free webinar on April 18 that will explore the DDoS risks facing the game industry. Sign up here.