Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Where are the Third Party Games?

At least year's E3, Nintendo promised us that third party developers would be on board with the Wii U. They even managed to get the CEO of EA, John Riccitiello, on stage to show his support for the upcoming console. Fast forward to E3 2012. While there were third party games shown, the majority of them were ports of year old games that only a limited number of people are going to care about. Even after hyping up EA support last year, the only EA published game shown was Mass Effect 3.

Where were the no-brainer third party games that one would expect to be on the Wii U? Where were the EA Sports titles? Where was Call of Duty: Black Ops II? Where was Tomb Raider? Or Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance? Or Resident Evil 6? Or Bioshock Infinite? Or even Watch_Dogs? The list goes on and on, and if Nintendo really did have the third party support they said they did, at least some of those games would have been present at Nintendo's conference.

Yes, the Wii U is getting Assassin's Creed III, ZombiU, Darksiders 2, and Aliens Colonial Marines, which won't be year old ports, but those games are developed or published by Ubisoft, THQ, and Sega. Those three companies were some of the only third party companies that really supported the Wii, so I would have expected their support no matter what. I wanted to see major upcoming games from companies that didn't support the Wii, like Activision and 2K Games.

I realize that Nintendo has stated that they are going to reveal games that appeal to the Japanese audience at a later date, which might explain the lack of Resident Evil 6 and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, but it does not explain the lack of countless other games. Does the Wii U's Gamepad make it hard to port games over or something? It's perplexing, because if the Wii U is on par with or a little bit stronger than the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, these games should be on Nintendo's next console. Third parties don't benefit from being exclusive to Sony and Microsoft.

Perhaps Nintendo only wanted to show launch titles for the Wii U at E3, explaining the lack of certain games. But that doesn't explain the lack of games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II and EA Sports games. Those games are coming out this holiday season, probably around the Wii U's launch date. They would be perfect games to have at launch, and yet they weren't shown at all. If Nintendo is getting support from companies like EA, 2K Games, and Acitivision like they want us to believe, why weren't they at Nintendo's conference this year?

As much as you may roll your eyes at Call of Duty and EA Sports and say you don't care about those games, they're still important games to have if you are trying to get major third party support. The lack of those games is worrying to me, and I don't see any reason as to why they wouldn't be shown if they were on the Wii U. Black Ops II seems like the kind of game Nintendo would brag about if it were coming to their next console, and a random EA Sports game probably would have received a segment just to itself in order to show off how you could use the Wii U's Gamepad to call plays or something, similar to Microsoft's Smart Glass segment at their conference this year.

I also realize that some third parties have said that they want to create unique experiences for the Wii U and not port games over, but that sounds exactly like the Wii's situation. While the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 get the next blockbuster game with tens of millions of dollars thrown behind it, the Wii U gets a fun little spin off that ends up being noticeably worse and less funded than its Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 counterpart.

So far it feels like big third party companies are just taking their latest relatively big releases and slapping on touch controls and calling it a day. Nintendo hasn't convinced me that the Wii U's third party situation will be any different from the Wii, Gamecube, and Nintendo 64's third party support. You may point to all these ports now and say that it's a sign that third party support is coming, but the Wii also had a lot of Playstation 2 ports with motion controls slapped on during its first year, and look how that third party situation turned out.

I know that I may have sounded like a Negative Nancy these past few days, but the truth is Nintendo's E3 conference underwhelmed me and the lack of major third party support outside of the usuals has me worried. I want the Wii U to be successful and I want to buy one eventually because Nintendo does make my favorite games, but Nintendo has not convinced me to purchase one at all.

And it may sound like Nintendo's third party support can't win with me, but what I want to see from third parties on the Wii U is basically more companies like Ubisoft. Wii U gets major games like Assassin's Creed III, while also getting unique experiences that are exclusive to the console, like Rayman Legends and ZombiU. I realize that some companies aren't large enough to do that, and that's fine, but 2K Games, EA, Activision, Konami, Square-Enix, and many others are large enough to do what Ubisoft is doing. Those companies have proven in the past that they have the capabilities to do that by releasing exclusive and unique games on either the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 while also supporting the other with major multiplatform releases.

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