Why aren’t high profile multi-platform games coming to the Wii U?
There is a worrying trend happening with Nintendo’s new console right now. It is a familiar problem for Nintendo home consoles, some of you may have even been expecting this. The Wii U simply isn’t getting third party multiplatform games. I can’t help but wonder why this is.
Whether the Wii U ends up being underpowered compared to Sony and Microsoft’s next consoles remains to be seen but right now it is more than capable of receiving ports of Xbox 360/PS3 games. Game developers have had their final Wii U devkits since some point in mid-2012 most likely yet many of them have decided against making Wii U versions of their Spring 2013 software. Even worse, very few of the last batch of 360/PS3 releases coming this fall have been announced for Wii U either.
Titles like Dead Space 3, Tomb Raider, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII have no announced Wii U versions despite the console making a fair amount of sense for these games. Nintendo’s HD console can handle these games yet their publishers have no interest in doing so. Why is that?
One reason why these Q1 2013 games aren’t heading to the Wii U is likely due to a low install base. That makes a lot of sense since the Wii U, like every console ever, has an a small, unproven user base. You can’t really blame them for this, they’ve got their bottom lines to look after.
This theory is easy to understand but in the past we’ve seen publishers have no issue porting their games to new Microsoft/Sony platforms. The Xbox 360 wasn’t a proven platform in late 2005/early 2006 yet it received a plethora of Xbox/PS2 ports. The PS3 had a wealth of third party games that had only appeared on Xbox 360 or PC without any proof that the console was going to be successful. So why not the Wii U?
But what worries me and many of you is that there are 360/PS3 games scheduled for later this year that have no announced Wii U versions. Battlefield 4, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Grand Theft Auto V, Killer Is Dead and others don’t appear to be heading to Nintendo’s new console.
By the time most of this software hits store shelves closer to the end of the year (with the exception of GTA V) the Wii U would logically have a larger install base. It would still be a gamble to port a game to a console with a 8-12 million user base, but less so. If anything third parties would have far less competition than on 360/PS3. If their titles were marketed correctly they could dominate the Wii U platform due it being so new and having so few options for software.
I can’t really pin-point why third parties aren’t jumping on board right away. Perhaps the recent news of a poor software attach ratio for the Wii U isn’t helping. Maybe they just don’t think the Wii U has the audience they need to sell their multiplatform games, though you could argue against that since the Wii U user base isn’t concrete yet. They can be swayed to enjoy more mature content than consumers did on the Wii if they are given a wealth of great content for early adopters.
Another theory is the hardware difference. Developers in the past have aired their gripes about the Wii U’s CPU. It can’t be that bad because it runs games like Arkham City and Mass Effect 3 pretty well. That said, there could be an issue with tweaking games to run on the Wii U’s 1.24Ghz CPU instead of the 360/PS3′s 3.2Ghz processors. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad decision on Nintendo’s part but it could be that lazy developers don’t want to put forth the effort needed to get games to run on a CPU clocked much lower.
Right now it appears that the only notable multiplatform games coming to the Wii U are Injustice: Gods Among Us, Resident Evil: Revelations HD and a late port of Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Maybe this situation will get better after E3. The Xbox 360 and PS3 appear to be on their way out and will go out with a bang with a few titles later this year.
It appears that the small install base, the low software attach ratio and possibly the system’s lower clocked CPU could be putting roadblocks in the way of third parties porting their multiplatform games to the Wii U. We’ll have to wait and see if third party support on the Wii U gets better as we approach the release dates of high profile third party games like Battlefield 4 as the year goes on.