Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Third parties and the Wii U

Before I start, let me apologize for the extremely late update today.  I don't really have any excuses other than procrastination, so I'll just leave it at that.

Ever since the Nintendo 64, Nintendo hasn't really had the best relationship with third parties.  While their handhelds continue to get notable game releases, Nitnendo's home consoles are left with mainly spinoffs and party games, which isn't exactly what fans of Nintendo would like.  With the Wii U, things finally appear to be changing, with games like Batman: Arkham City and Darksides II being announced, but I can't help but to be worried about the success of these games on the Wii U.

There are a few main points that concern me about the performance of third party games on the Wii U, with the first being that some of the games announced for the Wii U are coming out on the PS3 or 360 months before they are on the Wii U, such as Ninja Gaiden 3 and Arkham City.  Millions of Wii owners who are considering to buy the Wii U already own either a PS3 or a 360, and currently, there's no reason to wait for the Wii U release of multiplatform games.  Why would we sit around and listen to people talk about how great these games are, just to buy it for the Wii U a year later?  Chances are, if you're interested in a game like Batman: Arkham City, you either already own it for one of the HD consoles, or you're going to be buying it in the near future.  You're not going to wait until late 2012 to play a game you've been anticipating for two years.

There isn't even some incentive with extra features when it comes to these games.  I realize there's still a lot of time between now and the release of the Wii U, and in that time, there could be numerous announcements concerning exclusive features, but like I said, if you've been anticipating these games for years, you're not going to sit around and wait for third parties to announce extra features that are exclusive to the Wii U.

Arkham City may be coming to the Wii U, but there's no
incentive to buy it for the Wii U.

The second thing that worries me about third party games on the Wii U is the fact that certain series have already built up a loyal following on the PS3 and 360.  Games like Assassin's Creed and Battlefield have built up the image that they are PS3 and 360 games (and in Battlefield's case, PC too).  Majority of the people who enjoy those games already own a PS3 or 360, and probably won't see any reason to buy a Wii U to play a game that's going to be on a console they already own.

Then there's also the fact that a vast majority of the already announced third party games will be released around the same time that the Wii U launches.  The problem I see with this is that the Wii U's userbase will be incredibly small at this point, so games that are going to be releasing in the Wii U's launch window won't have a large audience to sell to.  Plus, a vast majority of the people who will buy the Wii U on launch day will be hardcore Nintendo fans, and let's face it, many of the hardcore Nintendo fans don't play games like Battlefield.  That narrows down an already small userbase to an even smaller pool of potential customers.

With all these concerns combined, I feel like the Wii U versions of multiplatform games are going to underperform when compared to their PS3 and 360 brothers.  We've seen time and time again throughout the last fifteen years that third parties pull support from Nintendo's platforms if game sales don't meet expectations.  While I don't expect a scenario as bad as Nintendo's last three home consoles, mainly because the Wii U will be closer to the PS3 and 360 in terms of power, I do fear that any Wii U version of a major release will be an afterthought for developers.

I'm still expecting the Wii U to be a great console because of the support from Nintendo, but I still feel a little weary about its third party support.

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