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An Inside Explanation Of Why Third Parties Have Left The Wii U

Jan 11 2014, 10:31am CST | by

An Inside Explanation Of Why Third Parties Have Left The Wii U
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While it’s Saturday, and there isn’t much news in the video game world, I absolutely must point you to a fantastic read over at Eurogamer. Their piece, “The Secret Developers: Wii U – The Inside Story,” is written by an unnamed dev who worked on an early 3rd party Wii U title, and who has now spent 5,000 words detailing his experience. It reveals why yet again, Nintendo is lacking third party support for their latest console.

The developer says that shortly after the reveal of the Wii U to him and his cohorts, the immediate, universal thought was “I like the new controller, but the CPU looks a bit underpowered.” He spends a lot of time detailing just how true that was, and though the explanation gets pretty technical, the long and short of it is that while the Wii U outperformed the 360 and PS3 in some areas, it still lagged behind in others. And unequivocally, the Wii U is vastly far behind Microsoft's One and Sony's PS4.

Perhaps even more interesting is his account of how Nintendo completely dropped the ball with their online service:

“At some point in this conversation we were informed that it was no good referencing Live and PSN as nobody in [Nintendo's] development teams used those systems (!) so could we provide more detailed explanations for them?”

If that’s true, and not some sort of unfortunate translation error, it’s inexcusable for Nintendo to be unfamiliar with the very system they should have been attempting to emulate. While the Wii U may excel at local multiplayer, it explains why their online capabilities are still lagging so far behind their competition.

Between the difficulty of working with the Wii U’s CPU, GPU, and ever-changing dev kits, the feeling that third party game weren’t all that valuable to Nintendo, low consoles sales resulting in low game sales, and Nintendo’s mishandling of online and the move to HD, the author feels like it’s no wonder third party devs have shied away from the system, and will continue to do so well into the future.

“So, these larger studios had a choice. Would they develop a port of an existing game to a console with limited capabilities and limited market penetration? Or put their teams to work on developing new features and concepts for the “real” next-gen consoles that were going to be launched that year? When you look at it this way, the choice isn’t that hard.”

It wasn’t hard, and it’s why you see most of the big name publishers jumping ship, favoring Microsoft and Sony’s systems over Nintendo’s. A few loyalists like Ubisoft have stayed, releasing the great Rayman Legends for Wii U, and promising a Wii U version of Watch Dogs, but they’re in the minority. The author himself says that whatever publisher he worked for, the consensus was that they would never make another Wii U game after their experience with their initial title.

Nintendo is the only video game company out there where it even would have a chance to float on first party exclusives alone. Imagining the PS4 or One without third party support would be laughable. Nintendo survives on the quality of its first party games, but the problem is that this time around, they don’t have the tidal wave of sales to non-gamers the Wii had to back their efforts. That console appealed to both Nintendo loyalists and the general public who normally wouldn’t play games. The Wii U now only has the former category, and it’s a much smaller number than the latter.

It’s entirely possible that this is the last console generation for everyone, not just Nintendo, as in eight to ten years, who knows what the gaming market may look like. But this may be Nintendo’s rockiest road yet, and this Eurogamer piece is an important insight into why they’re going to have to walk the hard path alone. I highly recommend you read the full article here.

Follow me on Twitter, subscribe to my Forbes feed, and pick up a copy of my sci-fi novel, The Last Exodus, and its sequel, The Exiled Earthborn.

Source: Forbes

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