While this is only EA Sports’ response, it’s hard not to think of this as the company-wide frame of mind regarding developing titles for the Wii U.
We all know the story by now: the Wii U is suffering a bit at the moment. Shiggy expressed his disappointment earlier at the lack of any good showing of third party titles for the console at this year’s E3. Nintendo seem to be blaming themselves at the moment and believe that it’s up to themselves to start making more compelling games for the console that will expand its userbase significantly.
But it’s always interesting to read how these other companies and publishers reason these sorts of things. Speaking for EA Sports, Andrew Wilson made a statement about developing for the Wii U that, while nothing really new, honestly feels a bit sad to read.
I build for a userbase. I made games on Facebook because I thought people were there that wanted to play them. Then it became apparent to me that either I had the wrong game or they weren’t there. We had a strong offering on Wii U at launch. The platform hasn’t had the take-up. Our games hasn’t had the take-up we’d have liked. So at this moment we are not focused there. Now they could do a range of things that might change that situation, and we’d never count them out. And should there be a sizeable gamer base there in the future, we would build games for Wii U. But for us it’s less about building for a platform, and more about building for a group of gamers on a platform where they are. And sports gamers weren’t there.
I feel like I’ve read similar statements somewhere before. But it’s all a bit of a catch 22, isn’t it? There’s no userbase, so developers pull away from the console and wait for the userbase to grow. And if a lot of developers do this, there’ll be no games coming out for the console, so nobody sees a reason to buy it.
Everybody’s playing it safe. Perhaps you can’t fault them for it, but it remains a sad sight for sure. EA Sports might not matter so much here – has there ever been a significant sports gamer userbase for the Wii or Wii U? – but it’s a statement that’s a sign of something larger. It’s representative of a thought that extends beyond just EA Sports.
Nintendo will be launching a host of strong first party titles between 2013 and 2014. Will they be enough to convince developers and publishers to get back on board with the Wii U?