Think about it for a second.
The Wii U’s distinct lack of third-party support has bore the brunt of many an opinion piece about the console’s premature demise, and it’s understandable as to why. With high-profile publishers such as EA and Konami dismissing the platform entirely until Nintendo manages to shift more units, the Wii U’s future, it seems, will be shaped by the strength of Nintendo’s first-party software alone.
But isn’t this always the case?
From the N64, to the Wii U, third-party support has continued to be a point of contention for Nintendo’s hardware. Despite the company’s best efforts to create exciting, innovative pieces of hardware, a stickler suddenly emerges, one that irritates third-party publishers so much that they start to implement unrealistic stipulations into their original agreement of “full support”.
No matter how small or insignificant the problem may be, third-parties tend to be lightning quick at finding fault with Nintendo’s hardware and equally adept at blowing things completely out of proportion. And then come the excuses…
Maybe it’s the power of the console that is unsuitable; perhaps the new controller is actually too unique, or the size of the install base simply isn’t good enough after 10 months. Better still, maybe the media format chosen by Nintendo causes offence. Or maybe they just hate Nintendo?
Unfortunately, this situation isn’t new to the Kyoto-based company. They only need to look back at the last few console generations to figure out that they’re no longer on equal footing when it comes to generating third-party support. After all, Microsoft nearly followed through with the most anti-consumer machine ever created. And guess what? Third-party publishers were bending over backwards to get into bed with the devil that was Xbox One.
So what can Nintendo do to fix this uncrackable conundrum? Should they produce a more powerful machine to match their competitors? No, probably not, that didn’t work out too well for the N64 now did it… I know, maybe they should create a console to match their competitors, spec for spec? No, you’re right, the GameCube didn’t exactly get much support either… Maybe they just need to make a console that will sell like hotcakes, surely that would bring in unprecedented third-party support? Ah, you’re right, the Wii did exactly that and third-party publishers complained that Nintendo’s games took all the sales… Right, I’ve got it, why not give the third-parties a window to get their games out to consumers without the competing threat of Mario? Oh wait, Nintendo tried that already with the 3DS launch and absolutely no support came bar a few reworked ports…
So, does anyone have any sensible advice to help fix Nintendo’s problem apart from simply matching their competitors in every mind-numbing way until gaming is a homogeneous hobby? Seriously, what else can Nintendo do if they’ve already tried pandering to the demands of third-parties, only to be lambasted by them when things don’t go their way. Satoru Iwata probably wants to shake the life out of EA for producing three shoddy Wii U ports and claiming that’s the best they’ve got to offer. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wants to throw stuffed Pikmin toys at Peter Moore’s head for stating that the Wii U “feels like an offline experience” – honestly, that statement is so backwards when you consider the fact Nintendo has built one of the most interactive and passionate online communities on any platform with Miiverse.
A Cut Below The Rest
And then there’s the current face-palming logic of third-parties which includes cutting key features and DLC out of a game, charging the same price as other versions and then moaning when it doesn’t sell well.
Does anyone have any sensible advice to help fix Nintendo’s problem apart from simply matching their competitors in every mind-numbing way?
Batman: Arkham Origins will not include any online multiplayer for the Wii U version because Warner Bros. are “focusing development efforts on platforms with the largest MP audience.” So why, then, did Ubisoft, who have admittedly been valiant supporters of the Wii U thus far, decide that online play is warranted for Wii U owners but instead cut out offline co-op from Splinter Cell: Blacklist? Check out this corker of an excuse:
“In order to ship at the same time as the other consoles, we unfortunately weren’t able to delve into this feature. But we think Nintendo gamers will be really excited to get the game at the same time as other consoles.”
You hear that, Wii U owners? You should be really excited to get the game at the same time as other consoles! Who cares about getting a lesser version of a game! Buy, buy, buy!
But wait a minute, wasn’t Rayman Legends delayed for more than six months so Ubisoft could publish it on other consoles? Funny how they didn’t apply the same screwed up logic to Blacklist, isn’t it?
Port Of Call
At the end of the day, third-parties have a wonderful opportunity with the Wii U. They have a relatively young and excited install base who are eager to buy new, quality titles for their new, quality machine. If third-parties really wanted to, they could fix their own problems that they’re having with the Wii U by amazing the Nintendo faithful with a new IP or by producing a genuinely, definitive version of a multiplatform title. But instead, the publishers who claim their games never sell on Nintendo software continue to produce shoddy, woeful ports and then spit their dummies out when, astonishingly, their games sell below their lofty expectations. It’s a sad state of affairs, really, and one that only ever seems to happen to Nintendo.
Alas, it’s up to Nintendo, then, to make the Wii U a success without relying on the false pretences of third-party publishers. With the incoming wave of first-party software hitting the platform in the next few months, starting with the wonderful Pikmin 3 which came out last month, Nintendo has already shown their quality and commitment to the cause. If only third-parties could do the same, because their familiar excuses are wearing extremely thin.