Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-08-06 16:43:38
Nerfed Titles on the Wii U
At this stage, I am religiously keeping up to date with the state of software coming out for the Wii U. I probably wouldn't care so much if I hadn't bought one, but, now that I have made my purchase, it is, of course, in my best interest to keep track of the games that are coming out for the system. Sadly, as necessary as it is to do so, it's also a grim affair reading about third party Wii U software, even if it's not all that surprising that things aren't peachy. Not only are many developers, such as Bethesda, showing little to no interest in developing for the system, but many of the developers who are supporting the system are doing so with half-hearted apathy.
The big two examples of this right now are Batman: Arkham Origins and Splinter Cell: Blacklist, both of which are third party multiplatform titles that are coming out on Wii U, among other systems. The Wii U version of both games, however, is a diluted experience. In the case of Batman, the Wii U version lacks online multiplayer (the PS3/360 versions have no trouble in this regard). On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Wii U version of Splinter Cell has online multiplayer, but lacks the local co-op of the other systems. Both point to the Wii U versions of these games as being the weakest; versions that are stripped of something, but will demand the same price from the consumer.
So, of course, perceptive buyers won't buy the Wii U versions of these games if they have other systems they can play them on. The developers will then complain that the games aren't selling on the Wii U and will stop producing games for the system. While this is understandable - you cannot expect developers to develop for a system where their games don't sell - you can hardly blame the Wii U for receiving poor versions of games. The system is powerful enough to run these titles, and it is fairly despicable that third parties seem to keep screwing over the Wii U with bad ports (Sniper Elite) or the reversal of exclusivity rights (Rayman Legends).
The Wii U is an awful system for third party support, but this isn't helped when third parties already seem to have decided that the system isn't worth developing for. It is, in many respects, unfair to compare sales on the Wii U to sales on the PS3/360 - there are far more PS3s and 360s on the market, given that the consoles have been out for over half a decade. There is no way that the Wii U versions of these games would ever be as popular. Thus, when I hear developers complaining that sales of software on the Wii U is lower than expected, I cannot help but feel as if these expectations are based on how well the games are selling on the other, older systems.
Nintendo seem to be the butt of the third party joke right now. I'm just waiting for developers of games like Watch Dogs (Ubisoft) to announce that they have stripped content from the Wii U version for one reason or another. Developing for the Wii U is a catch-22 situation: developers stand to make little return, but by not developing for the system at all Nintendo will never truly grow outside of their first party franchises. And, in the case of games such as Splinter Cell and Batman being neutered versions on the Wii U, it should hardly come as a surprise to their respective developers that the games probably won't sell well. If you're only going to release half a product, why even bother releasing it on that system at all? It's unfair to the consumer and further spreads the feeling that the Wii U isn't worth developing for.