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'The Wii U will find its audience'
'The Wii U will find its audience'
June 12, 2013 | By Kris Graft

June 12, 2013 | By Kris Graft
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Some publishers are scaling back support for Nintendo’s Wii U due to its anemic sales. But for Ubisoft, a strong early supporter of Nintendo’s platforms, continuing to do business on the console just makes sense.

“We did not take a big risk with all those launch titles on Wii U,” Tony Key, senior VP of sales and marketing at Ubisoft, told us this week. His company has released Wii U games such as Just Dance 4, ZombiU and Rabbids Land.

“[Wii U game] development isn’t expensive -- some Wii U games are versions of games for other platforms, like Assassin’s Creed. And we continue to invest in that system.

“We have just as many titles coming on Wii U this year as we did after launch, because the system isn’t as resource-intensive to make games for it. We continue to believe that the Wii U will find its audience. We saw some good games [during Nintendo Direct this week]. We’re confident that the Wii U is a good place for us to do business, and we can make money there.”

Ubisoft has major games in the pipeline slated for Wii U, including Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Rayman Legends, and Splinter Cell: Blacklist.

Nintendo's putting its first-party weight behind the machine as well, in an effort to turn around flagging Wii U sales, with upcoming games such as Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. and Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze.

We’ll have more from Key in the near future.


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Comments


Kujel s
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This is something I like about Ubisoft, they are a little less risk averse compared to the other big publishers and as such they were the only third-party pub/dev to really make much money on the Wii and it's looking the same for the Wii U.

Merc Hoffner
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The terrible thing is what appears to be risk aversion in the short term is actually cultivating risk in the long term. Unless it provides real strategic advantages, shouting down avenues and opportunities is simply putting your eggs in fewer baskets. Counter-intuitive from a short termist viewpoint, Ubisoft is actually hedging risks off - and when they don't even have to spend a lot to make interesting things happen, as they've stated on several occasions, well, that's just being prudent.

It's worrisome that in so many ways they've become the outlier. Favoring a focus on delivering slash and burn quarterly share growth over sustainable economics through building endless bridges is a facet of financial markets that brought the world to its knees. EA's burnt through half its cash and a CEO. Why are they so intent on accelerating their position?

Kujel s
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This behaviour by publishers is exactly why big budget games are about to disappear (save for Nintendo's mid-budget games).

Ubisoft is less risk averse then their competition but they still are too risk to survive in the long term (unless of course they completely change they way they do things) and will just last a little longer then the others.

In the end I'll be amazed if game budgets are ever over 50 million again after this gen.

Joseph Elliott
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A pretty substantial price cut is needed for me to get on board, especially with the PS4 launching at $399. As much as I love Nintendo and want a Wii U, a PS4 for only $50 extra is much more tempting.

Kujel s
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@joseph I'll wager by this holiday season they will cut the price by $50 to better compete with sony and MS.

Sunil Chacko
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I agree that a price drop is coming, but going by their E3 showing, I believe it'll be after the holiday season, once their heavy-hitters (Mario Kart, Smash Bros, etc.) start coming out. This will avoid them competing directly with the wonder-twins (that are likely to take all the attention this holiday season), and allow them to compound the launch with the price drop for greater effect. This may also give them the chance to bundle the aforementioned games with the console. Wouldn't all those factors make up for missing a predictably saturated holiday season?

Patrick Davis
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Don't forget that PS+ you have to pay for like XBLive now.

John Flush
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Or you don't, if you never played online anyhow.

Regis Leboeuf
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I am pretty sure they will cut the price before Christmas. But with the majority of their big games planed for 2014, it will be hard to compete with Sony and Microsoft at the end of 2013

Bob Johnson
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Its audience might be bargain hunters at garage sales, but it will eventually find its audience.

John Flush
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When I hear Wii U and games I always hear: If they only had "insert sequel of franchise we have seen since N64 or even SNES" I would buy it.

Honestly other than people that aren't bored of the staple Nintendo franchises and maybe new gamers, who is the audience for any Nintendo product? Any why hasn't Nintendo figured out their audience only shows up once they have those sequels?

I can see they tried to do that - They thought NSMB Wii was a huge audience. It sold a lot. that must be the audience that wants to play again. So it released with it. Problem of course was most of us bored of it after one iteration on the Wii, or maybe it just wasn't enough yet.

I know I was actually hoping to get a Wii U because of that game. I wanted to enjoy the NSMB Wii game a lot, but I had a few gripes with it. When I found out it was more of the same in terms of the things I hated (you could bump into each other, the controls were the same, shaking made you twist in the air, every castle was the equivalent of the Contra waterfall level, etc) it became a pass.

And here I wait for them to do F-Zero, Metroid, Fire Emblem...

warren blyth
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I think gamers are having trouble reconciling Nintendo sequels with : everyone else's sequels.
Nintendo has tried to make it clear that they work out a gameplay innovation, then see which franchise they can fit it into. While everyone else just makes a sequel with more of the same (often afraid to change the core gameplay).
So when Nintendo announces a bunch of "sequels" people yawn. Because the AAA publishers have trained players that a sequel isn't about innovation.

example: NSMB WiiU isn't the same as NSMB Wii, actually - it offers the innovation of one person being able to DM the level for the other players in real time. creating blocks in real time doesn't sound like much - but it's easy to forget that only one person is doing this, and that it's the first step towards a single dungeon master creating environments for the other players.

It's also easy to forget that Nintendo games don't come out glitchy as hell, with unpolished gameplay/unbalanced multiplayer/etc.

I think their E3 showing was trying to remind people that their games are better than everyone else's. but journalists mostly shook their heads and refused to see it.

Dane MacMahon
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I don't want to get into a long debate about gameplay differences and whatnot, but as a consumer I can tell you I gave up on Nintendo franchises because they all felt like the same thing over and over again.

I could be wrong, and stuff like water puzzles and globe level design might feel more different to some than others, but it's still I think disingenuous to say Nintendo sequels are radically different compared to traditional Western game design sequels.

Patrick Davis
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@Dane MacMahon

Considering how many games shown at E3 involve a dude and a gun, I can't see how you can say that.

Luis Guimaraes
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Then Nintendo should start slipping new characters into Mario sequels to latter de-branch them into their own new IPs.

That'd help them easy many new characters in and avoid the whole "spin-off" impression about their titles.

Jeferson Soler
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I have to agree with what Warren said. The criticisms from people about game "sequels" are not limited to just Nintendo. Other companies (like Activision and EA) get those criticisms as well. However, Nintendo and the different groups under them do their best to make a game based on one of their main IPs different from the previous game. I'll admit that I didn't buy New Super Mario Bros. U, because the current price tag wasn't too appealing to me and I viewed the game as similar to the New Super Mario Bros. Wii. However, that doesn't mean that I was/am right and Warren did pointed out some functions from the game that I overlooked, so I might reconsider getting the game down the line, depending on how things go. Until then, I'll be focusing on getting Super Mario 3D World, which looked excellent, in my opinion. I had a first-hand experience with the game on the Nintendo Experience event from one of Best Buy stores and the game was/is crazy in a good way; I also liked that the game has the Super Mario Bros. 2/USA cast back together with their main special abilities. By the way, the line for the Nintendo Experience event was very big in the Best Buy that I went to. In any case, the upcoming Wii U games from Nintendo and 3rd-party companies are not bad and are very promising, in my opinion. This article talks about 3rd-party companies scaling back support for the Wii U, but as far as I noticed (especially from the game list), that hardly seems to be the case. It may seem that way, because of EA, Konami and Square Enix (more specifically, Square Enix USA as there is Dragon Quest X for the Wii U in Japan and the company doesn't even bother to try to bring the game to North America). However, I have seen Wii U support from Sega, Capcom, WB Games, Ubisoft, Activision and Disney in some shape or form. There's also Tecmo Koei, but that company is a double-edge sword at times (although, the company did bring over the niche title, Fist of the North Star 2, as a digital download only game to the US, so I'll give credit to the company on that smart strategy). Of course, from all the 3rd-party Wii U supporters put together, Ubisoft tends to be the most aggressive of the group and I'll be looking forward to Watch Dogs.

Matt Heinzen
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Part of the audience is gamers like me who grew up playing Nintendo franchises, and have stuck with those franchises into adulthood.

But the new part of the audience might be the kids of people like me. I have a 5 year old who started playing Mario Kart when he was 2. He's just getting into NSMBU and SM 3D Land, although those games are quite difficult for him yet. Watching him play shows why Nintendo made moves like putting in the Super P-Wing or green hint blocks when players repeatedly fail a level. Grown-up gamers may deride these features, but my son likes them.

Personally, it's quite convenient to have a system with games that even young children can play that I enjoy as well. If my game collection looked like a typical XBox 360 collection there's no way I'd let him play most of those games, and would probably end up buying a separate set of "kiddy" games, maybe even a separate system. With the Wii and Wii U, there are a lot of games available that we can both play.

So my kids are going to grow up Nintendo gamers, as much through inertia as anything else.

I think another audience is people who want to move from a handheld to a home console. Looking at kinds in households with non-gamer parents, a lot of them have a DS or 3DS. If these kids eventually grow into wanting a more powerful home console, then Nintendo is the company that makes the games with the brands they know and the types of games they are used to. This is a longer term strategy, and difficult to measure.

Sunil Chacko
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Isn't that what they've been doing for years?
After all, characters like Luigi, Yoshi, Wario and even Peach got their own IPs after starting their lives in Mario games. In fact, it could even be said that Mario has been more successful at launching the "careers" of subsidiary characters than any other console character. (I don't mention DK, purely because it can be argued that that's where Mario got his own start.)

Dane MacMahon
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It will reach Gamecube "heights" if they ever release some games for it. I'm not sure third-parties care about Gamecube sales numbers, however, past a few ports when convenient.

Would love to be proven wrong, however. I'm not much of a Nintendo gamer anymore but I respect the company and their business model.

Shonta Jones
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It's a complex issue. Developers are scaling back support for WiiU because of bad sales, but those bad sales exist partly because they have scaled back support. It's a shame. The WiiU has a lot of potential IMO. One time my friend was explaining how EA could use the Game Pad to make series like Madden more interesting. Maybe its because that'd be too much work for EA and they'd rather just release the same high-polygon game for PS4 and XBox One.

What IS the WiiU's audience? There's some of every type, and it must be difficult to rope in that elusive "dudebro" gamer. Maybe if 3rd party developers focus first on what they can do with the WiiU's GamePad and then worry about the audience (there will always be finicky gamers), things will turn out alright in the end.


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