Nintendo’s Wii U system seems to be having a rough time of it lately. First, there was the recently news that the sales of the Wii U have been lower than what Nintendo had originally hoped. Then there was the rather recent news which backed up previous comments – 15 games on the Frostbite 3 engine are not going to be on the Wii U. And now, to add insult the Wii U Dev kits “collected dust” at Avalanche Studios.
Nintendo have been trying their best to correct the image that the Wii U is under-powered, and isn’t that much different from the original Wii, aside from a new controller. Furthermore, the Wii U sales have declined, selling only around 380,000 worldwide between January and March of this year.
But, the recent comments from developers certainly aren’t any help.
Frostbite 3 and wii U
Electronic Arts (EA) are going to skip the Wii U for a rather astounding 15 of its new upcoming titles. These include big hitters, Mass Effect 4, Dragon Age 3, and even an unnanounced Star Wars title. So why is this? Well, quite simply put, the machine isn’t compatible with the Frostbite 3 engine, which has been developed by DICE.
Frostbite 2 didn’t run well on Nintendo’s console, with various technical performance issues; and so in a tweet Johan Andersson decided to explain that they’d given up trying to get Frostbite 3 (which is obviously more technically demanding) working on the Wii U. “FB3 has never been running on WiiU. We did some tests with not too promising results with FB2 & chose not to go down that path.”
Because of this, along with Mass Effect 4, Dragon Age 3 and the Star Wars title, Wii U owners will also not be seeing other titles on their machines. These include Need for Speed 2013, Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel and Battlefield 4. Ouch indeed.
Unreal Engine 4 will technically be able to run on the Wii U – but there’s a catch. The games will need to be scaled down. I’ve put together a video showing Unreal Engine 4 on the PC vs PS4 hardware (although both are incomplete) and even the PS4 can’t managed some of the lighting / textures of the high end PC. Obviously the Wii U stands little chance. Fortunately, the Unreal Engine 4 is very good at scaling – but even so. Mark Rein, from Epic has stated that it is possible, technically – to make a scaled-down version for the Wii U.
DICE were quoted during in interview in saying:
“To make the most out of the Wii U, that’s a different game because of the different peripherals. We want to utilize all the power of each console… It’s about ‘where do you put your focus?’ And the Wii U is not a part of our focus right now.”
An Avalanche Studios of Dust
“We actually had some development kits that just collected dust,” said Sundberg. “It’s a bit sad, because we wanted to do something. I think it is a cool platform, but right now it’s not just up to us. We want the game to reach as many as possible.”
Says Avalanche Studios founder and chief creative officer Christofer Sundberg. They also commented on the difficulty of working with Nintendo. Stating that the company are “difficult to reach”.
None of this paints a good picture. , Right now, the 3DS sales are doing fantastic in Japan – but let’s face it, that isn’t enough for Nintendo. They want us to take the Wii U seriously, but the problem is, they constantly are being hit over the head with issues.
It’s not very difficult to see a pattern:
Developers don’t make games because the system isn’t powerful enough / hasn’t enough owners. Buyers don’t purchase the systeme because they’ve only limited funds and instead, opt for a rival that has more games / potential. Less developers make games – and so on.
Right now, Nintendo are working on a first party titles – many are ‘killer apps’ that will be out by the end of the year. But they need to take a leaf out of Sony’s book, and start to wine and dine developers. The Wii U is currently being sold at £150 in the UK in an effort to increase sales. I think we’ll have to wait and see if does what is intended.