Will the Wii U ever find its edge?

Posted: February 7, 2013 by Joel Kost in Gamenomics - Video Games, Nintendo
Tags: , ,

Ubisoft announced earlier this morning that Rayman Legends, the highly anticipated sequel to Rayman Origins, is no longer a Wii U exclusive and will come to both the Xbox 360 and PS3. In addition, the game’s release date was pushed back to early September, nearly seven months later than the original release date of February 26. While this certainly shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody, it’s definitely bad news for Nintendo and it raises a very important issue: will the Wii U ever gain high-quality, third-party exclusives?

In order to understand why this is bad news, you have to look at Nintendo’s terrible history with third-party games. The Wii was notorious for its serious lack in the third-party titles. Instead of seeing modified versions of AAA franchises like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed that molded to the Wii’s unique control scheme, the console received low-quality ports that couldn’t possibly measure up to the main games. The Wii was forced to survive on many 0f Nintendo’s main stream franchises like Mario, Tjhe Legend of Zelda, Kirby, and Donkey Kong.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn was one of Nintendo’s main first-party games for the Wii. A traditional Kirby game, Kirby Returns to Dreamland, was released near the end of the Wii’s lifecycle.

Despite it’s lack of game diversity the Wii managed to stay ahead of the Xbox 360 and Ps3. The only problem was that most of the people buying a Wii were younger kids and senior citizens. This wasn’t really the group of “hardcore” gamers Nintendo wanted to reach.

When Nintendo announced the Wii U, the company swore to its fans that they would see an increase in third party games. At E3 2012 it showcased many popular titles that would be coming, including Mass Effect 3, Darksiders 2, and and Ninja Gaiden 3 (to name a few). Most of these titles received similar scores to their Xbox 360 and PS3 counterparts, but most people already owned these games. ZombiU, the survival horror game from Ubisoft, was touted to be the Wii U’s big third-party launch title, but received only mediocre scores. In order to truly make up for the Wii’s lack of third-party games, the Wii U would need to pull out some serious exclusives for hardcore gamers, which came in the form of Bayonetta 2  and Rayman Legends.

Well…now it’s just Bayonetta 2.

There are two main problems with the Wii U right now. The first is that almost all of its third-party games are cross platform. Injustice: Gods Among Us, Aliens Colonial Marines, and The Walking Dead Survival Instinct are all games that are coming to the Wii U, Xbox 360, and PS3 (emphasis on Xbox 360 and Ps3). There are more Xbox 360s and PS3s than there are Wii Us, so we can only assume that Nintendo won’t be selling too many of those games.

The second problem, which really goes hand-in-hand with the first problem, is that the Wii U is such a new and revolutionary idea that people don’t know if they can trust it. This is completely understandable since the Wii had issues concerning the sensor bar, graphics, and the famous weak wrist strap. Gamers are much more likely to spend $60 on a game for a console they already own than pay $300 for a new console and $60 for a new game.

With Rayman Legends a cross-platform title, the only third-party exclusive Wii U owners can look forward to is Bayonetta 2.

The Wii U has some fantastic titles to look forward to. A new Mario Kart, Pikmin, Super Smash Bros, Yoshi’s Story, The Legend of Zelda and an HD remake of The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker have all been confirmed. But it desperately needs exclusives from third-party developers, especially with the new Xbox and Playstation just around the corner. Will the Wii U be successful? I think so, but it’s hard to tell nearly four months after its release. But if it can’t pick up its game before those consoles hit store shelves, it may be in some serious trouble.

  1. jdh5153 says:

    I think the Wii U is quite the disaster. Just try to play a game of Black Ops II on it. No one is online….ever (I don’t own one, but my buddy does). It’s pretty ridiculous that Nintendo is just now releasing a console that can perform on par (or try to…it fails to in reality) with the 360 and PS3. In just a few months the WiiU will again look like an ancient machine compared to the next Xbox (X8?) and PS4. Third party developers will not release their games on the WiiU because the ‘core’ gamer will prefer to play those games as they were designed to be played (not on an underperforming console).

    I don’t mean to hate on Nintendo….but I don’t think they’ll ever win the core gamer back in the console market. True they have a lot of core gamers in their pocket in the handheld market (I prefer my iPhone / iPad for mobile gaming) but they’ll never regain a foothold in the console market.


    • Joel Kost says:

      I definitely agree that Nintendo lost the “core gamer” consumer, but luckily for the Big N it has an enormous fan base and kids love the gimmicky stuff it puts out. The Wii U will sell well and I’m personally enjoying mine, but you’re right to say they won’t win back the core gamers.

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