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Why are major third party publishers making such obvious mistakes with their Wii U games?


One major thing has been bugging me for a long time in regards to third party support for the Wii U. A lot of blame for why third parties are avoiding the platform can be placed on Nintendo, that’s for sure. At the same time, numerous third party publishers have made some serious missteps on the system and have acted surprised when things turned out bad for them. Yet anyone could have told them the decisions they’re making are flawed and setting them up for failure.

Take EA’s lack of proper Wii U support at launch. First they release a Mass Effect 3 port without all of the game’s DLC and at the same time that the Mass Effect Trilogy hit PS3/360. Then, they release flawed Madden/FIFA ports along with a delayed Need For Speed: Most Wanted U. All of these EA games sold pretty terribly on Wii U but the system can’t be blamed entirely for that. Yes, its a young system but had EA ported over the entire Mass Effect Trilogy perhaps it would have fared better. Had they waited to release Madden NFL 25 on the Wii U instead of porting Madden 13 to it three months after the game’s release on 360/PS3 maybe it would have performed better.

Warner Bros has a dud in the making with the Wii U version of Batman Arkham Origins. They aren’t shipping the game’s multiplayer component on Nintendo’s console. This will surely influence some players to chose the 360/PS3 version over the Wii U version due to missing content. Ubisoft is in the same boat as they left out offline co-op in the Wii U version of Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Reports are coming out that the game has sold pretty bad on Wii U and the lack of offline co-op couldn’t have gone unnoticed by consumers.

Ubisoft is starting to pull back on the Wii U too, stating today that they will not release any of Assassin’s Creed IV’s DLC on the system. Perhaps there just isn’t a big user base for games that rely on DLC sales post-launch like Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty, hence the lack of DLC for those franchises on the console. I don’t fault them for that. They released Assassin’s Creed III’s DLC on Wii U and it must not have sold all that well or they wouldn’t have decided against Black Flag’s DLC.

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The latest victim of third parties not knowing how to manage a Wii U release is Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut. Square Enix announced this Wii U enhancement of the 2011 classic earlier this year and originally hyped it up to be something only possible on the Wii U. Then, they announced it would also come to current-gen consoles but without the Wii U features. Of course, eventually they added the Wii U features to the 360/PS3 versions via Smart Glass and the PS Vita. Not only that but they’re selling the Wii U version for $20 more than the 360/PS3 versions of the game.

What was the point of porting over Deus Ex to the Wii U in the first place? I can understand that the game probably started out as a Wii U exclusive port but then when system sales tanked Square felt pressure to port it to the other systems. Makes sense but what is odd is the decision to price the Wii U version at $50 while the others are cheaper. How did this pass someone’s desk as a logical decision?

I truly don’t understand why major third party publishers continue to make such obvious mistakes with their Wii U games. They’re stripping big features, cutting out DLC and pricing these games into bad situations. Even then, they have to understand that there are thousand of Wii U gamers who believe their games will flop commercially so these players wait until these games get huge price reductions before they buy them.

If I’m a consumer with a limited budget and I see how badly Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut is priced on Wii U why should I pay $50 at the game’s release? It’s obvious that the $20 price hike over the current-gen versions is going to hurt the game’s sales so a smart consumer will wait several months until the game hits the bargain bin.

I don’t know who is calling the shots but several big third party publishers need to re-evaluate their Wii U projects. If you’re just going to cut content from the game (like multiplayer) because you fear it will make the game unprofitable, then maybe you shouldn’t be porting that game to the system? Perhaps you should be working on a Wii U specific game that can be better marketed towards the system’s small user base? A portion of the blame for third parties abandoning the Wii U can be placed on Nintendo but another chunk of that blame rests solely on some big third party companies.