Talking tech since 2003

The mark of a great game console is not just the power under the hood. It isn’t all about the first-party IP, either — think Mario, Halo or Uncharted. In order to fully live up to its potential, a game console needs a substantial amount of third-party support from top developers and game publishers.

When a major developer and publisher comes right out and says that it doesn’t have any games in development for your system, that is bad news. And that is exactly the news Nintendo and its Wii U console got, courtesy of EA.

If you're a Madden NFL fan and a Wii U owner, you're out of luck for the foreseeable future.
If you’re a Madden NFL fan and a Wii U owner, you’re out of luck for the foreseeable future.

EA, while continuing to hold the crown of “Worst Company in America,” controls many popular video game franchises, including the Madden NFL games, SimCity, Battlefield, Need for Speed and more. The fact that not a single one of those titles is coming to the Wii U speaks volumes about EA’s confidence in the console.

But EA is not alone in its cautiousness about the Wii U. Gamers haven’t taken to the console as much as Nintendo had hoped and sales have been extremely disappointing. Nintendo sold 55,000 Wii U consoles in April, even failing to surpass the original Wii, which sold 75,000.

Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time EA has lowered or flat out shut down support for a particular game console. EA was practically invisible on the Nintendo 64 console and famously refused to develop for the Dreamcast, a system that was discontinued in 2001 due to slumping sales.

The Wii U, which launched in mid-November of last year, is also being overshadowed by the next generation Xbox and PlayStation consoles (much like the Dreamcast was when the PS2 was released). Those systems are set to launch toward the end of the year, bringing much improved graphics and online capabilities — two areas where Nintendo consoles have traditionally been weak. Those consoles will also be based on x86 architecture, which makes it easier for developers to port games back and forth between the systems or from a PC. The Wii U runs on the less-common PowerPC architecture.

Nintendo does have a few interesting titles coming later in the year, including New Super Luigi U and Pikmin 3. And just because EA is sitting out doesn’t mean other third-party developers are — Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist is on deck for summer and Batman: Arkham Origins and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag are set to be released in the fall. But the total number of Wii U games expected for the rest of 2013 is slim, even when compared to consoles that will be obsolete by the time 2014 rolls around.

If Nintendo hopes to make more than the smallest dent with the Wii U, it needs a lot more games. More games means more chances for a runaway hit, and runaway hits sell consoles. Whether Nintendo is developing that game or a third-party is, it needs to happen soon. Unfortunately, I’m not sure Nintendo can turn this particular ship around in time.

Any Wii U owners out there? We’d love to know what you think about the console so far and if you care about EA’s decision not to develop games for it.


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