Yesterday’s announcement that Wii U exclusive Rayman Legends was not only delayed but on it’s way to both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 was a blow to Nintendo.
But it’s not a move that should’ve caused much shock, as publishers Ubisoft are only trying to get the biggest return on their investment. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that selling something to a potential audience of 150 million gives you a much better chance of making money than if your audience is only two percent of that figure.
But the timing of the announcement was unexpected, it came a mere three weeks before Rayman Legends was supposed to launch on the Wii U. It’s a move that even the developers were shocked at, one of the them, using the alias of Zeta69 on EOL revealed:
“For us, this means we’ve spent six months barely seeing our wives, kids, and friends for nothing because, after all, such a haste wasn’t needed. Believe it, it was a hell to swallow this news.”
But Ubisoft aren’t the only developer re-thinking their strategy on the Wii U. Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick also revealed his concerns about Nintendo’s new system “We were somewhat disappointed with the launch of the Wii U…It’s a challenging environment.”
Activision publish the ever-growing Skylanders franchise and when looking to expand the potential of that IP, Kotick made his thoughts clear on Wii U’s primitive install base “One of the things we’re worried about is what the install base will be for 6 to 12 year olds.”
Much like the Wii before it, Nintendo are yet again dealing with third-party issues on the Wii U. But is the move by Ubisoft and comments made by a high-profile figure such as Bobby Kotick anything to get Nintendo worried?
In short, no. At just a few months after launch the Wii U is in a solid position with 3million consoles sold and a number of exclusive titles still on the way. Despite the loss of Rayman Legends, there’s still Pikmin 3, Wonderful 101 and Lego City on the horizon over the next few months.
But in the long-term Nintendo will need to make the Wii U more appealing to third-parties. As it currently stands Nintendo can’t count on providing a hefty install base, so they will have to find other ways and other methods in order to bring titles across.
This Spring see’s a plethora of titles making their way to both the 360 and PS3 and for Nintendo it needs to be the last time we see this. Games like Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Rising and BioShock Infinite are clearly capable of performing well on the Wii U. So why didn’t Nintendo try and court these developers into working on the Wii U? Perhaps discussions were had, but for whatever reason these titles aren’t appearing on the Wii U and that’s an issue.
I fully expect the next PlayStation and Xbox launches to follow the pattern the Wii U has, steady sales mixed with a trickle of titles and a handful of exclusives to help the system appeal. If your here on Casually Addicted then it’s likely you will pick up either system within the blink of an eye but at that stage in the Wii U’s life Nintendo will already be looking elsewhere for sales.
After a year on the market the early adopters will already have the Wii U and despite the expected difference in graphical power Nintendo’s system will be ripe in appealing to that core market everyone desires so much.
This ‘core’ market that companies continually identify as being valuable to growth likely moved onto the PS3 and Xbox 360 after the Wii. Given another year on the shelf could it be time for this demographic to make it’s way back to Nintendo when compared to the higher cost of the next PlayStation and Xbox?
On paper it sounds like the ideal move for Nintendo in order to ship Wii U’s out the door. But a lot will depend on how Nintendo can get the strategy right at the end of this year.
While we still don’t know the release dates of the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft it’d be safe to assume that both will be in at least two of the three major territories (Japan, North America and Europe) by the end of the year. Nintendo naturally appeals to a wider audience and they need to use that to their advantage in order to get ahead of the competition. If Nintendo are in a situation where Wind Waker, Mario Kart and a Mario 3D title are leading the Wii U’s charge at the end of this year who would bet against Nintendo topping the sales charts?
There’s a lot of pessimism over the Wii U in the games industry, but with January’s Nintendo Direct the Wii U is positioned well moving further into 2013. If Nintendo can hold it together for the rest of the year then the Wii U will sell and the install base will grow significantly. At that point we’ll see publishers desperate to get their games on the system eager to make some Nintendo dollars.