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Bethesda: "The time for convincing publishers to support Wii U has long past"

Bethesda: "The time for convincing publishers to support Wii U has long past"

Tue 03 Sep 2013 9:45am GMT / 5:45am EDT / 2:45am PDT
HardwareDevelopment

Pete Hines highlights flaws in Nintendo's third-party strategy

Bethesda Softworks

The Bethesda Softworks division, founded in 1986, has a long history of success as a developer and publisher...

bethsoft.com

Bethesda's Pete Hines had some choice words regarding Nintendo's third-party strategy, suggesting that the time for getting better software support for the Wii U may have already passed.

In an interview with Game Trailers' Bonus Round, Bethesda's vice president of PR and marketing underlined the company's commitment to making its games available on every platform - as long as those platforms don't require compromise on the original vision.

As far as Bethesda's games are concerned, that has led to their absence on Nintendo hardware despite their huge popularity. And Hines intimated that the situation is representative of Nintendo's approach to third-party developers as a whole.

"The time for convincing publishers and developers to support Wii U has long past. The box is out," Hine said, while sitting on a panel that also included Borderlands 2 lead writer Anthony Burch.

Hines pointed to Sony and Microsoft's diligent and long-running efforts to communicate with third parties during the hardware design process as a better strategy for most developers.

"It's not that every time we met with them we got all the answers we wanted, but they involved us very early on, and talking to folks like Bethesda and Gearbox, they say 'here's what we're doing, here's what we're planning, here's how we think it's going to work' to hear what we thought - from our tech guys and from an experience standpoint.

"You have to spend an unbelievable amount of time upfront doing that. If you're just going, 'we're going to make a box and this is how it works and you should make games for it.' Well, no. No is my answer. I'm going to focus on other ones that better support what it is we're trying to do."

This adds colour to comments Hines made in an earlier interview, where he stated that the Wii U was, "not on [Bethesda's] radar." Nintendo is now attempting to address the Wii U's less than admirable position by cutting $50 off its price.

24 Comments

Thomas Dolby
Project Manager / Lead Programmer

319 253 0.8
I wonder what his opinion will be if/when the Wii U gets its software lineup sorted and starts selling by the truck-load.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Thomas Dolby on 3rd September 2013 12:32pm

Posted:7 months ago

#1

Patrick Frost
QA Project Monitor

383 174 0.5
Probably the same that they thought of the Wii.

For companies like Ubisoft and Capcom that have a good relationship with Nintendo, the sales issue is really hurting but for all of those 3rd parties that aren't in bed with them already, it's a case that Nintendo has given them no reason to look into developing for their platform. At least that's the inference I get from the majority of the evidence kicking around.

Posted:7 months ago

#2

Caleb Hale
Journalist

144 209 1.5
I doubt Nintendo is going to bolster third-party interest in the Wii U simply by selling more hardware. There's more to it than that.

The Wii U may make sense to Nintendo and its stable of developers, but it's a proposition that is tone deaf to the rest of the gaming industry these days. Sony and Microsoft seem to have learned development studios are under constraints these days on how much time and money they can pour into projects, hence they've created the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to be easier systems on which to build games. Sony is even doing some of the heavy lifting for third parties to get certain games on PlayStation platforms, such is the case with Borderlands 2 on the PS Vita.

Nintendo has built a system wildly different and weaker than its next-gen competitors. A few years ago, I'm sure many development studios would have branched off a team to work on a unique Wii U product, but the economics for such luxuries no longer exist. Even if Wii U sales improve, it doesn't change the fact developers can't build the kind of games on it they can with PCs and other more powerful platforms.

Posted:7 months ago

#3

Christian Keichel
Journalist

416 562 1.4
Sony and Microsoft seem to have learned development studios are under constraints these days on how much time and money they can pour into projects, hence they've created the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to be easier systems on which to build games.
This means Sony and Microsoft did not pay attention, how much time and money has to be poured into a project, when they developed the PS3 and XBox360? Because if the PS4 and XBox One are systems created for easier games development, it means, the PS3 and XBox360 aren't easy to develop for consoles.
But even if development on the PS3 and XBox360 was more time and money consuming then on the Wii, 3rd party developers showed the Wii the cold shoulder.
Besides, I am sure development costs will rise again in the next generation. It was Tim Sweeney himself who predicted, that developing costs will double in the next generation when a game is using the UE4 engine.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Christian Keichel on 3rd September 2013 4:49pm

Posted:7 months ago

#4

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,203 816 0.7
We get it bethesda, you dont like nintendo, thats cool. But thats not everyone. Im pretty sure Im buying one when they start getting there software out. The Windwaker HD bundle sounds like a sweat deal as well. The 3DS is selling truckloads, even outselling the more power and expensive VITA. When Nintendo start bringing the games that are already announced for the WiiU, Im sure the console will fly off shelves and people wont care about the system specs.

Posted:7 months ago

#5

Sasha Yelesin
Student

47 24 0.5
For all these companies complaining about the lack of software on the Wii U, not releasing software helps no one. It would be mutually beneficial for both Nintendo and Bethesda to release their games on the system. More sales for both, right? The game doesn't even have to work and it will sell like hotcakes. (Skyrim on PS3 I'm looking at you.)

Posted:7 months ago

#6

Jesse Miller
Staff Writer

4 4 1.0
It makes sense that Bethesda would take the stance of not wanting to develop for the Wii U because they as a publisher have always focused on pushing the bounds of what machines can do. With the PS4 and X1 right around the corner it doesn't make sense for them to port to the less powerful Wii U - especially since it hasn't gained a real foothold in the market yet. All in all this is a good business decision for Bethesda.

What irks me is that Hines assumes to speak for all publishers and developers. As stated above, I can reasonably see why Bethesda games won't find their way onto the Wii U, but that doesn't mean he should spurn Nintendo on a whole. The Wii U doesn't speak to Bethesda, but it doesn't mean other developers won't find it a suitable machine for their mid-tier/indie titles.

Posted:7 months ago

#7

Yiannis Koumoutzelis
Founder & Creative Director

356 181 0.5
I'm afraid they are right, but I still keep some last hopes.
Not much time left for Nintendo to convince 3rd parties if at all.

If they don't do well these holidays, with a decent follow up all the way till March/April 2014 not very possible that they may rebounce. Still they can do great on their own and the occasional port but it may repeat the Gamecube story.

Posted:7 months ago

#8

Steven Pick
Lead Graphic Designer

70 14 0.2
You think Nintendo give a hoot about what Bethesda thinks while they're counting all their money from their first party software sales?

Posted:7 months ago

#9

Richard Browne
EVP Gaming and Interactive

77 67 0.9
Bethesda don't do kid games or party games ; there's very little appeal to any Nintendo platform for them. Nintendo's demographics are not going to change, and unless you directly appeal to them in a niche that Nintendo doesn't directly support itself (as Ubisoft have been very successful in doing) you'll have no joy whatsoever on their platforms. And that is an unbelievably narrow window.

Posted:7 months ago

#10

David Serrano
Freelancer

280 246 0.9
In an interview with Game Trailers' Bonus Round, Bethesda's vice president of PR and marketing underlined the company's commitment to making its games available on every platform - as long as those platforms don't require compromise on the original vision.
Is Bethesda's vice president of PR and marketing qualified (on any level) to decide if, when or where Nintendo's policies would compromise the original vision of the creative directors, lead designers, programmers and producers of the games? And as a "professional journalist," wasn't it Geoff Keighley's job to ask Hines this question?

This exchange highlights the fundamentally broken nature of core game development and video game journalism.

Posted:7 months ago

#11

Ralph Tricoche
IT Professional

29 58 2.0
Hmm, sounds like somebody feels a little tingle in their rears, cause someone left them out of the "development" process. I guess if no one is puckering up then why sell your games to millions of potential customers. I think they took their ball and went home.

Posted:7 months ago

#12

Yiannis Koumoutzelis
Founder & Creative Director

356 181 0.5
What i think is that it doesn't matter what Bethesda thinks about Nintendo or Nintendo about Bethesda or we all about them all etc. etc.

What matters, for me as a developer who is in it for fun, but primarily for business purposes, (since this is not kotaku,) is the possible scenarios that might play for the development of this platform as a viable outlet for my products, and what i am saying is, that Bethesda might be right about being too late but there is still a bit of hope left.

Posted:7 months ago

#13

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,118 888 0.8
This means Sony and Microsoft did not pay attention, how much time and money has to be poured into a project, when they developed the PS3 and XBox360? Because if the PS4 and XBox One are systems created for easier games development, it means, the PS3 and XBox360 aren't easy to develop for consoles
That's not a true statement at all. The Xbox 360 was possibly the easiest to develop for since consoles began and even if it wasn't it was pretty close. PS3 was different in that regards, though it could have been worse.

Either way, Sony and Microsoft's consoles enabled Bethesda to achieve their creative visions, something that the Wii and Wii U would struggle with on a technical level. We're not even talking Skyrim now which is an old game, we're talking about the next generation as well as anything coming out of iD which also couldn't be adapted for Wii and probably wouldn't be quite as desired on Wii-U.

I think the console has plenty of potential in-house or third party, but if a publisher is telling us the hardware choices and policies restrict their games, then we should take that into consideration when it comes to the reality of supporting Wii U.

What irks me is that Hines assumes to speak for all publishers and developers.
I can understand this statement as Bethesda's thoughts, whilst true for them isn't strictly true for everyone else.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 3rd September 2013 8:18pm

Posted:7 months ago

#14

Christian Keichel
Journalist

416 562 1.4
That's not a true statement at all. The Xbox 360 was possibly the easiest to develop for since consoles began and even if it wasn't it was pretty close
Maybe the term easy is misleading here, what I meant was, budgets for games skyrocketed during the last generation and games on the 360 were part of this trend, while budgets for Wii games seldom reached these levels (Skyward Sword was the exception from the rule). But this didn't stopped 3rd parties from developing for the 360 or PS3 (more often then for the Wii). This leads me to the conclusion, that development costs aren't a big factor, when it comes to the decision what platforms are supported, which was something I meant to read in Caleb Hales comment, which I originally replied to.

Posted:7 months ago

#15

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

968 1,161 1.2
@ Christian Despite the "ease" of PS4 and Xbone development (they are at this point X86 PCs), budgets are still expected to rise at least another 20% this generation, so expect to see a lot of red in upcoming financials for companies, and probably a lot more THQs and Midways.

Posted:7 months ago

#16

Christian Keichel
Journalist

416 562 1.4
@ Nicholas

I completely agree, even if I think a rise of 20% would is the best case scenario, as people like Tim Sweeney are expecting a much bigger rise. But even a 20% rise would be a desaster, as game prices aren't going up and the installation base of next gen consoles will be way to small during the next years to justify these costs. So I think publishers will continue to support the current gen for a long time to come, but this will make the development of a multi platform title even more expensive.

Posted:7 months ago

#17

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

768 1,001 1.3
I wonder what his opinion will be if/when the Wii U gets its software lineup sorted and starts selling by the truck-load
I'm pretty sure that he still won't care if that scenario happens and heres why: last gen the Wii took off unexpectedly and publishers both big and small were caught with their pants down, so to speak. In a mad rush they all(well most of them) started making Wii ports and some original projects for the Wii. But the overwhelming majority of those ports and new games never made enough to turn a profit or even break even. So I think that many publishers/developers still feel a bit burned by the lack of sales from a system that had sold tens of millions of units and yet most Wii games(barring first party stuff) couldn't even sell one million units.

While most won't want to admit it, Bethesda is far from the only major publisher who has this opinion about Wii U development. I think most will keep quiet about it unless the Wii U sells poorly this holiday season. At that point every major developer will probably throw Nintendo under the bus except for the Japanese ones of course. But thats a worst case scenario. Nintendo still have their first party offerings this holiday so they might turn things around after all. We'll see.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 4th September 2013 7:32am

Posted:7 months ago

#18

Andy Samson
QA Supervisor

223 170 0.8
They're used to developing for a PC that has huge resources, so what stopped Bethesda from developing for "inferior" machines like the XBOX 360 and the PS3? They're bitter because Nintendo didn't give them the pampering they think they deserve.

Posted:7 months ago

#19

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,993 902 0.5
@Richard Browne: Act-ually... Bethsoft did publish ONE Wii title back in 2009 and it's a family-friendly party game at that (go figure):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwyB69OHB9g

I guess it didn't sell well, or it's been forgotten by everyone... I guess this means no HD remake, either (heh)...

Posted:7 months ago

#20

Richard Browne
EVP Gaming and Interactive

77 67 0.9
Thanks for the laugh Greg, I had no idea!!! About 130k units apparently . . . probably not going to get anyone in Zenimax terribly enthused by the Wii!

Posted:7 months ago

#21

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,210 2,049 0.9
Greg, don't forget that racing game they published on Wii: Wheelspin.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxjMOksWAew
And yes, that's a retail game. Not WiiWare...actual retail.

This game was supposed to "Push the hardware further than any other Wii racing game to date.

This was the game that Bethesda Europe's managing director stated was to be a big mature title for Wii.
http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/bethesda-next-to-target-mature-wii-market

That first comment is really interesting.

Posted:7 months ago

#22

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,993 902 0.5
@Jim: Ha. I actually missed that one! I'll need to track it down for the library I suppose. Oh, wait... I'm in the US and it's called Speed Zone here. Well, that's TWO games they published for the Wii (that didn't do well, I'm gathering)...

EDIT: Aha. Bethsoft didn't publish this in the U.S., so here it doesn't count as one of their released titles. I did see that it got praise for its visuals, 60FPS frame rate, HD support (!) and some other technical stuff, dinged for control issues (but it supports a ton of input devices) and it has an eight player mode (!) on a single screen. Yikes. I don't even want to know what that looks like on a smaller TV set, but I'll give it a whirl once I find a copy...

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 6th September 2013 6:31am

Posted:7 months ago

#23

Christian Keichel
Journalist

416 562 1.4
Saw this game in the bargain bin dozens of times, didn't looked very appealing, but I just read, that it was developed by Archer McLean's Awesome Play, that fuels my interest.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Christian Keichel on 6th September 2013 8:46pm

Posted:7 months ago

#24

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