I’ve always been a Nintendo fangirl. Since I got the original Game Boy, and the Nintendo 64 a few months later, I’ve always had a bizarre loyalty to the Kyoto-based gaming giant. I’ve owned everything from the Gamecube to the 3DS, and so long as they continue to make hardware, I’ll continue to buy them.
I almost didn’t pick up the Wii U. Almost breaking from tradition, I believed that the console was an expensive waste of space. Having the same graphical power as the current Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and costing around twice as much, I thought of giving it a miss. But cue a Nintendo Direct video a few weeks ago which announced plenty of new titles – a new 3D Mario game and a remake of Gamecube classic The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker being among them – and finding one for ludicrously cheap in a second hand store almost brand new, I decided to give in.
I’m glad I did. I’m not the gamer I once was, but the Wii U – with it’s fantastic controller and the amazing Miiverse – has rejuvenated my interest. If you have yet to play on one, I highly recommend finding one and giving it a try.
More importantly, unlike the Wii, the Wii U’s innovations are perfectly suited to the more hardcore gamer. Using the gamepad to remote play the likes of Assassin’s Creed III or Black Ops II is fantastic, and needs to be seen to be believed.
Unfortunately, the Wii U’s future with hardcore gamers looks in doubt. It’s not entirely Nintendo’s fault for a change – their poor attempts at advertising the system in the UK aren’t helping matters – but rather the attitudes of third party publishers, who are showing immense apathy towards the new system.
Historically, third parties haven’t fared too well on Nintendo’s home systems. Gamers usually overlook them in favour of the versions on competing systems. This time round, however, they seem to be admitting defeat before the launch period is even up.
EA, one of the largest publishers in the world, has already given up on the system. Their launch lineup was atrocious – two sports games, neither of which took advantage of the new system, and a re-release of Mass Effect 3. Normally, I wouldn’t complain about the release of a Mass Effect game on a new system as they are fantastic titles. But the game was launched around the same time Mass Effect Trilogy was announced for the PS3 for the same price. It’s a no brainer as to what would sell better. Combined with a no-show for the new Tiger Woods title, it’s looking more likely that EA’s time with the Wii U is over before it’s even begun.
There is word that EA’s lack of support may be because Nintendo didn’t base their online service around Origin, their much-hated digital system. This would explain their position, but not why other publishers aren’t doing much better. With the exception of Ubisoft’s ZombiU, the bulk of the Wii U’s launch games were ports of Xbox 360 or PS3 titles. These are games people have played to death months before the Wii U was released, or are established franchises on other consoles where people will stick with what they are familiar with. As a result, these games haven’t sold that well, and is having an effect on their outlook on the system. A few days ago, Ubisoft announced Rayman Legends would no longer be Wii U exclusive and would be delayed until Xbox 360 and PS3 versions are released. No doubt this will impact sales on the Wii U.
The advertising problems that the Wii U has seen (there’s a huge bulk of gamers that aren’t even sure what it is) isn’t just limited to Nintendo. Whilst Ubisoft’s advertising has given it a brief mention at least, no other company has even shown their games are out on the system. Aliens: Colonial Marines, which is released later this month, has been advertised on the Tube. It shows four versions – Xbox 360, PS3, PC and PC download. It actually mentions PC twice rather than show Wii U once! How can you expect it to sell on a console if nobody knows it’s even out for it? And this is despite the Wii U version being hyped by the developers as the best version in past interviews.
It is sad to see third parties do this to an excellent piece of hardware so early in it’s life. The truth is, the Wii U is amazing. The ports of Assassin’s Creed III and Black Ops II, games I have played on the Xbox, are actually improved by the controller. The Miiverse integration within games like Nintendo Land gives a connection unlike anything Xbox LIVE or PSN offer. I truly believe once hardcore gamers realise what Wii U offers for them, they will flock to it in droves.
We still have so much more to look forward to. HD iterations of Nintendo stables, an all-new Virtual Console with Miiverse support, and so much more will make the Wii U be everything it’s predecessor couldn’t be. But in order for it to be successful, the games have to be there. I just hope third parties realise this in time.