After a slow start for Nintendo's Wii U, Electronic Arts has visibly backed off supporting the system, while Activision and Ubisoft are publicly indecisive about continuing to create games for the platform. There's at least one third-party publisher still in Nintendo's corner, if comments made to GamesIndustry International by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment president Martin Tremblay are anything to go by.
"We're a believer on the Wii U," Tremblay said during an interview at last week's Electronic Entertainment Expo. "Honestly, we hope everybody's going to work out. It's just good for the industry."
While Tremblay stressed that he was proud of how titles like Scribblenauts Unlimited, Batman: Arkham City, and the Nintendo-published Lego City Undercover performed, he clearly wanted to see more contributions from the platform.
"This is spot-on what I think the price point needs to be, and it will energize and make the transition easier"
Tremblay on PS4 at $399
"I think the console has been off to a slow start, but I think they're going to fix the problem," Tremblay said. "I don't think it's a problem, but it's more about the content. And I think they showed tons of new content [at E3] that will re-energize the platform."
Tremblay also weighed in on the announced price points for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, lauding the latter's $399 tag while diplomatically refraining from specific comment on Microsoft's $499 offering.
"Honestly, I'm very pleased with Sony's price point," Tremblay said. "This is spot-on what I think the price point needs to be, and it will energize and make the transition easier. That being said, we'll see how consumers are going to go for it. We're building for both platforms. We like both. The specs are amazing on both sides. But I really do like Sony's price point; this is something that can give us a chance to succeed quicker."
As for the new system's differing stances on used games, Tremblay said he didn't think they would shift the sales mix of multiplatform titles one way or the other. And in instances where some of the control is at the publisher's discretion, Tremblay said he didn't expect to deviate from the way things work at the moment.
"You've got to listen to your consumers," Tremblay said when asked about the uproar over the Xbox One restricting used game sales. "You've got to listen to people playing the game. That's very important. I think I was a little bit surprised, to be honest…Now that we see that coming and we see what people want, just go with it. That's the way I look at it."
Tremblay seemed to welcome that sort of enthusiasm after years of people voicing concerns about the sustainability of the console industry, and the challenges it had faced as a result of the longer-than-usual hardware generation. While E3 might not have put those concerns to rest, Tremblay seemed quite pleased with how it began to address them.
"The show feels reenergized," Tremblay said. "The announcement of both platforms is fresh air to the industry. We needed that heartbeat. The Wii U was a good thing to get something new in the market, but now Sony and Microsoft are coming up pretty strong with devices that are going to be amazing from a development perspective and a commercial perspective."
Finally, Tremblay addressed the lack of digital sales transparency in the industry, which the Entertainment Software Association is looking to improve upon. It might find some willing partners, as Tremblay said WBIE "would do everything we can on our side to participate in this." The executive underscored the dearth of clarity in the digital space, noting that even WBIE didn't have a firm grasp on just how lucrative it was until it converted Lord of the Rings Online into a free-to-play game and got into the mobile market itself.