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A recent article on Destructoid brought up a good point about developers who don’t plan to port multiplatform titles to Nintendo’s Wii U console because they can’t figure out ways to make the games special enough for the GamePad controller. Consider it recommended reading for the new Wii U owners wondering what the hell is up with most of the spring releases apparently skipping the system, but the article’s main thrust is that the GamePad, despite its attention-grabbing touch screen, is still just a controller.
Two developers now — Gearbox Software and Crystal Dynamics — have explained that they didn’t move forward with Wii U versions of Borderlands 2 and the reboot of Tomb Raider, respectively, because they couldn’t work in some kind of “wowza” factor with the GamePad. This is particularly strange in Gearbox’s case because it did find that hook for the Wii U version of the upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines.
I find the “Wii U’s GamePad is just so special that we couldn’t find a worthy use for it” argument not only condescending but also intellectually dishonest. No one bought a Wii U last November because the only way people want to play video games is with shoehorned-in touch controls. I think Wii U owners would be psyched about getting Tomb Raider on the console, not bummed that they couldn’t use the touch pad to tickle Lara Croft onscreen.
Honestly, all it would take to sell me on a Wii U version of a game is to make it fully playable on the GamePad. That way, when my wife turns on a three-hour block of Say Yes to the Dress, I can pick up and play on the other side of the couch.
So what’s really up?
I don’t expect an answer from the PR machines on this, but any Wii U owner with a healthy amount of skepticism knows we’re not being told the full story here. My question is, when are gamers going to get mad and organized enough to start demanding some answers or, better yet, ports of these missing games?
An online petition for Tomb Raider on Wii U is live and, as of this writing, has 23 signatures. I also found at least one forum with rumblings about a petition for Borderlands 2 on the Nintendo platform. It doesn’t seem like anything too serious is coming together yet — nothing on the level of an Operation Rainfall, which successfully petitioned imports for three Japanese role-playing games on the Wii.
Maybe the majority of Wii U owners just don’t care. Nintendo is following its own trajectory in the industry. While that may not bear fruit with every multiplatform game on the market, it will generate some unique titles over the course of the console’s life span.