Publishers jostle for first-mover advantage on Wii U

Ubisoft, EA, Sega detail early launch plans to; but Take-Two remains cautious

It may not yet have a release date, but the biggest third-party games publishers are preparing to hit the ground running when Nintendo releases the Wii U next year.

Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Sega are all backing the system day and date without hesitation, with only Take-Two remaining cautious of the first new home console to hit the market since 2006.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot told that the publisher is pledging new intellectual property for the system and is keen to see early adopter feedback on the new hardware.

"We will announce one game that we want to launch day one that is a new type of game, which should be interesting. It is still very important, just because you can test a market and also see through the eyes of the first consumers.

Getting in early is partly about being a successful transition company and figuring out where the hardware is going to go

Frank Gibeau, EA Games

"They are the people that actually have the word of mouth factor. The trendsetters," he added.

For Electronic Arts it's a gamble to go big on the day of release, but Games label president Frank Gibeau is confident from previous form.

"It served us well on PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3," he told "Getting in early is partly about being a successful transition company and figuring out where the hardware is going to go.

"With the Wii U it's important for us to get there on day one so we can get in and build as big an audience as possible. We've been doing this for 25 years and trying to pick platforms and more often than not we get it right. I hope we have this one right. That's the gamble," he admitted.

Although some third parties were stung by dedicating separate resources to the Nintendo Wii and seeing poor return on investment, Sega West president Mike Hayes said his company was confident a long-tail approach would pay off even if day one was daunting prospect.

"At some point we were the biggest, certainly top three third-party publisher on Wii, so for us it was a great platform... we've got absolutely no qualms about [Wii U].

The recent launch of the 3DS highlighted how sluggish sales can be for Nintendo without one of its hit franchises such as Mario or Zelda, but again, Hayes is willing to play the long game.

"I just think we're all a bit premature in being a bit glass half full on 3DS. Everyone was clamouring 'oh please bring it out in March, you must bring it out' and then it's like you get to June and it's all 'sales aren't very good...' Well, they haven't got the software yet."

Karl Slatoff, chief operating officer at Red Dead Redemption publisher Take-Two was more cautious, suggesting his creative teams need time to assess the hardware before committing to launch.

"For us it's really about understanding what the hardware capabilities are and understand how it's going to fit into what our goals are from a franchise creation perspective," he told "Really understanding what that platform can deliver and developing for that platform.

"So that's our philosophy, not just with the new Nintendo console but across the board. Whether we're looking at the 3DS or the PlayStation Vita or any of the new formats that are coming out. We can't look at them all the same way. We're not just going to port over."

Porting games from established Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 franchises is an opportunity now that Nintendo's Wii U is said to have comparable technology, and will help keep costs lower than an entirely higher spec console.

"It doesn't increase [costs] very much because the advantage is in being close to the other machines, you can do the game for all the formats at the same time," offered Guillemot.

But he also made it clear that Ubisoft is evaluating the Wii U for "both new content and a third location" for existing franchises.

Although the costs of bringing existing titles over to the Wii U won't be high, Hayes said Sega is willing to spend more money on implementing the unique tablet controller, helping to distinguish the Aliens: Colonial Marines experience on Wii U from the same game on Sony or Microsoft hardware.

"That controller is absolutely brilliant and we have to think of innovative ways to use it. We're doing high definition Sonics, we're doing obviously Aliens: Colonial Marines, so you can bring them across, and that's relatively low cost, which is good news.

"Then you spend your money on how do you use that controller effectively to make it unique and differentiate it."

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Latest comments (8)

Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 9 years ago
Makes a lot of sense for SEGA to bring Sonic to the system. I think a lot of people would be happy to sit down and have it running on the tablet screen and not use the TV.
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Junior Enwright Writer - novelist, comic book scripts, game narrative, article writer 9 years ago
I think that Nintendo should try to gain as much third party suport as possible in order for them to demonstrate the new consoles power and developement capablities to the public without them having to rely on first party software to do this.
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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University9 years ago
Personally I think Nintendo should be reaching out to the App Store and Android developers and encourage them to bring their titles to a Wii U eShop service. Titles like that could be played on the tablet controller rather than the television, turning the Wii U into a hub for Nintendo software, third party blockbusters, movie streaming and the smaller smartphone/tablet games the wider market is becoming accustomed to.

By including a camera and motion sensors as well as traditional controls, Nintendo have created a very versatile interface. The problem is that the Wii U touch screen is different to what App Store and Android developers work with--it's resistive rather than capacative (that's the correct term, right?), and there's no multi-touch. I still think Nintendo should move in that direction, though. They've a chance to level the playing field not just with Sony and Microsoft in terms of third party support, but with Apple and the wider smartphone/tablet games market. Like Iwata has said, content is king, and the versatility of the Wii U tablet allows them to support a large variety of content, but Nintendo have to make moves to aggressively court these developers and bring them on board.

They seem to be making the right noises with regards to traditional publishers, but there are no signs as of yet they're going to make the move for smartphone and tablet developers, which could hamper Wii U and 3DS in the long term, and prevent them from achieving the levels of mass market success DS and Wii have attained.
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Show all comments (8)
Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 9 years ago
I wasnt crazy about the 3DS, it was much the same expirience as the DS but with a 3D screen. But to me its still 2D with pop up effects. Unless you can go in around and behind an object, to me the 3D isnt a big deal. And that type a 3D is either not possible or a long ways off.

However the WiiU is a differant story. Im absolutly phsyched about the system and if they can get it out the door at comforatible price then I will purchase it on day one. The controller although bulky, has a standard set of buttons an extra features that I feel will add to games. It also has built in microphone and earphone jack to play multiplayer games.

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Gary Lucero QA Analyst, Senior 9 years ago
It will be interesting to see if Nintendo has success with the Wii U or not. Even if it has better graphics or an innovative controller, I would rather use the money I could spend on it on new games for my Xbox 360. And I am happy to wait for a new Xbox console even if it doesn't show up until 2014. But then again I'm not one of the Nintendo faithful. I just don't play their games.

As far as what third party publishers will do with that controller, I will watch that closely to see if there's anything compelling. My feeling is that there will be a couple of cool games that use it, and we will see some cross-platform games that look better on the Wii U, but that overall it just won't be different enough to matter to anyone except those who have to have the next Zelda or Mario Kart.

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
Seems to me that a lot of people are just putting Nintendo into the damned if you do, damned if you don't category. If they under power it, nobody will want it when the new consoles come from Sony and MS. If they mid range it, it's not enough to separate from the current consoles. If they go too high end, it will cost much more than the current consoles and no one will buy and developers won't want to put the money into making games on it.

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Christopher Cherry DRM Account Manager, Tribeka Ltd9 years ago
I'm sorry, I must be old but I still cannot come to terms with Sega talking nice about Nintendo, seems so sureal! YOB! from CVG will be turning in his grave..
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Reilly Davis9 years ago
i dunno bout this wii U the controller is like a big version of the ds wasnt real impressed by it i would of prefered no controller to that clunky thing be expensive to replace screens too id imagine
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