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End to Wii U production “nothing to do” with Yooka-Laylee Switch

Playtonic assures backers it did everything it could to get Wii U version running, offers refunds for those without other platforms

The studio behind upcoming '90s-style platformer Yooka-Laylee has stressed that Nintendo's decision to end Wii U production did not affect the decision to move the game to the Switch.

UK-based Playtonic Games announced this morning that it is working closely to Nintendo to bring Yooka-Laylee to the forthcoming Switch console, promising more details "early next year". However, in a move that has no doubt surprised and angered some of the game's early Kickstarter backers, the Wii U SKU once promised has now been scrapped.

To some, this may not come as a surprise. Even Nintendo seems to have abandoned hope for the troubled Wii U, with its only remaining major release - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - also coming to Switch and production of the console officially shut down last month. However, Playtonic studio head Gavin Price insists his team were undeterred by this.

"No, that had nothing to do with the decision," he tells GamesIndustry.biz. "As we have shared, it's simply down to unforeseen technical difficulties. Its a testament to the team that we have continued to fully explore every possible option throughout making Yooka-Laylee.

"Our backers are why we are here today and that's our first priority. We can assure you this was a hard decision for everyone. Our team has so much combined Nintendo heritage and we're huge Nintendo fans as individuals. That's why we're working hard to make things right for our backers and with Nintendo and Playtonic's fanbase over the coming weeks and months."

The Wii U version of Yooka-Laylee was said to be the most requested platform for the game, due in no small part to nostalgia for the Rare-developed Nintendo 64 platformer Banjo-Kazooie the team previously worked on. Playtonic will be releasing information on how backers can choose alternative formats in January, although an FAQ on the studio's site indicates that full refunds are likely to be an option.

Playtonic is also looking into offering backers that pledged enough to the original Kickstarter campaign to qualify for a digital edition the option of upgrading to a physical copy. Those who simply switch to another format will not be charged.

"We're working hard to provide Wii U fans with multiple options to let them decide how they'd like to move forwards," says Price. "The Playtonic team members who backed were mostly Wii U backers too, so we know it's not the news everyone wanted to hear but we'll do our absolute best to make it the right decision and ensure Nintendo fans get the great experience they deserve."

News of the delay came as the studio announced Yooka-Laylee will be released on April 11th, 2017. With the Wii U version gone, the remaining SKUs are Xbox One, PS4, PC, Mac and Linux. Nintendo Switch is expected to launch in March, but there is as yet no confirmation that the Switch version will launch alongside the other formats.

When asked how he expected backers to convert, whether to opt for established formats or wait for the Switch, Price says: "We've not even thought abut this. We are focused first and foremost on doing right by backers affected by this decision.

"Having the game go on to be successful beyond backers is something we're grateful for having Debbie Bestwick and Team 17 helping us to do, but this decision has left us with an even greater sense of care to our backers and making sure they are well looked after as soon as possible and letting them decide if holding out for Switch or another platform is the best choice for them."

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Latest comments (5)

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 6 months ago
Well, that stinks for those Nintendo-only households who can't run out and drop $300 or whatever on a new console, that's for sure.

I was listening to an argument about this at a game shop about 2o minutes ago where one person said Playtonic should at least try getting the Toybox demo out on Wii U to appease angry gamers, but that's not a very good idea in that "to be continued... on Switch!" manner. Ah well...
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Ron Dippold Software/Firmware Engineer 6 months ago
Is there anyone hardcore enough to own a Wii U who wouldn't prefer a Switch version at this point? I guess anyone who felt burned enough that they're not buying the Switch.

On the technical side, if you played the PC demo (available to backers), Unity will occasionally struggle with the huge environments in Yooka-Laylee even on a PC. I can easily see that being a slideshow on the Wii U - not because the Wii U can't do it with enough effort (Xenoblade X), but with Unity in between. And practically it's just not worth it to rewrite everything for one SKU on a moribund platform.

Another good question would be how powerful the Switch is - will that really fix it? Nintendo's not saying since that's not their game any more. There have been some rumors that it's as powerful as an XB1, and hopefully Playtronic has already tried it at this point and is confident in saying it'll work.
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Alex Barnfield Senior Engineer, 17-BIT6 months ago
My general reaction whenever I saw a Unity developed Kickstarter being promised for the WiiU has been "you'll be damned lucky". I'm actually surprised they're referred to as 'unforeseen' technical difficulties.
The fact that the WiiU version simply wasn't viable does give me concerns about performance on the other versions, XBOne is the most Unity friendly platforms and Recore is certainly no stranger to drops in framerate to the low 20's. Maybe PC will be the way to go for this title.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 6 months ago
I don't believe a word of it

The WiiU is a bomb and an extremely limited market. At the very least they can ride the Switch launch this way. Unless they want to likely bust some NDA And detail exactly what those issues are (if they even do exist they are likely to be an issue of lack of processing power), that's the only logical answer, and they are simply covering their butts from lawsuits.

I'm not saying it's the wrong move, I am saying they should be more upfront about it.
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James Coote Independent Game Developer 6 months ago
I don't even think it's Unity that's the problem per-se. At some point, your team comes up with a new level and it's just beyond the limits of what the hardware can can hande.

You either limit yourself to small levels, or start finding increasingly hacky ways to get the framerate up. Or just accept that too many compromises are needed and the drop in quality in other areas of the game can't be justified any more.

Also don't forget loading times. Just speculating here, but could be, even if the framerates are acceptable, waiting 5 minutes for a level to load is not.
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