Take-Two boss "sceptical" about core games on Wii U

Strauss Zelnick says publisher's current plans cover only family and sports titles

Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick has admitted his doubts over the viability of the Wii U for the company's core franchises.

In an interview with Gamasutra, Zelnick stated his interest in making sports and family games for Nintendo's system, but highlighted that take-Two had no announcements regarding mature games.

"I'm sceptical," he admitted.

This is the sort of feedback Nintendo doesn't want to hear. Publishers and developers struggled to make money from mature games on the Wii, and its release schedule dwindled over time as a result.

Rectifying this problem was one of the key objectives of the Wii U, though Zelnick isn't convinced it will work. However, he remains bullish on the potential of new consoles in general.

"For a company like ours, it's a great opportunity," he said. "[New console launches] separate the winners from the losers, and we fully expect to be one of the winners."

"I don't want to minimize the challenge of creating titles for new technology or the economic challenges of doing that, but if you get it right, it's a terrific time to launch a new IP."

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Latest comments (9)

Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University5 years ago
"This is the sort of feedback Nintendo doesn't want to hear. Publishers and developers struggled to make money from mature games on the Wii, and its release schedule dwindled over time as a result."

Because very few high quality, well advertised mature games ever came to Wii. Third parties have a chance to create that market on Wii U, and if they don't put resources there from the beginning, then obviously mature games won't do well in the future on Wii U.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 5 years ago
You know, when Wii was released none of the publishers got on board with it and then scrambled to catch up when it became popular, releasing half-arsed ports and minigame compilations that burnt customers, lowered expectations and devalued non-Nintendo games in the eyes of their customers.

For them to be doing the same thing once again.... I think I need a Ron Perlman voice-over to end this comment...
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Keldon Alleyne Developer, leader, writer, Avasopht Ltd5 years ago
I do remember some sub-par mature games on the N64, GC and Wii which did not help the good games.

Konami Metal Gear for the Playstation and Hybrid Heaven on the N64, both were great game concepts but you could clearly see that the N64 game lacked the production values.

The developers who did invest well were respected equally, so people were happy to buy games like Perfect Dark and Goldeneye.

There were unfortunate games like Eternal Darkness (GC) and Madworld (Wii) that received favourable reviews that were not realized in sales. Many would agree that Eternal Darkness is an extraordinary game that can be enjoyed by all types of gamers and really deserved to have done well.
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers5 years ago
Some people will act like this is a self-fulfilling prophecy, but they have to realize the context in which it is being given. Publishers had a rough time of it on the Wii trying to find the formula that worked for mature, core games. Games like The Conduit and MadWorld heavily underperformed, and despite the positive performance of some "light gun" game early on like the House of the Dead compilation and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, the follow ups did not nearly do as well. Despite much more positive reviews of the Red Steel sequel, it sold far below that of it's predecessor.

It's been a challenge for third-parties on Nintendo consoles for a while now, which is why some companies (like Take-Two) are hesitant for the moment. It might take a rousing success of third-party core titles for the tune to change - so much might depend on how well ZombiU does.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd5 years ago
@ David It absolutely is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You point me to a genuine mature, core game investment from a major publisher on the Wii (including advertising, something essential for all mature games) and then we'll talk, but the closest thing was Red Steel... The Conduit and MadWorld both recieved lukewarm critical reception, and neither received a lick of commercial advertising. Even Red Steel 2 barely broke 80. It's not like similar games have never bombed on PS360 either... look at Vanquish, Virtua Fighter 5, Kingdoms of Amalur (sold a lot, never made a penny), Condemned, Too Human, and Haze. Heck, one of the most high profile recent HD bombs was Take Two's own The Darkness II.

Don't get me wrong, the third parties may be right. Maybe they wouldn't have made money on Wii if they put games like Resident Evil 5, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Assassin's Creed on it, but they certainly never tried either. If you take the top 10 largest third party franchises of this generation and look at how many had even a SINGLE Wii entry, there is only one: Call of Duty, and we all know that that was a half-assed port (which still sold 1 - 2 million copies on every entry).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 18th June 2012 5:31pm

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James Prendergast Research Chemist 5 years ago
@ David. The issue with that is that the Wii was never sold as or to a core demographic. Trying to expect huge sales on a "hardcore" game was ridiculous in the first place. Those 100 million (almost) units sold to date were mostly one-off sales on the back of TV and family friend's hype and the attach rate was pretty low (IIRC) so it was an unrealistic expectation in the first place - and a poor business decision to boot!

The Wii U, on the other hand, is being directly propositioned as a core/casual device - one that integrates both uses into a functioning family room. The Wii was never like that.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd5 years ago
@ James You're at least partly right. The attach rate wasn't as good as the PS3 or 360, but it wasn't as bad as you're implying either. The Wii sold much more software than the PS3 for example. While the PS3 had about 150 million selling software titles and the Wii only had 140, the Wii also had 9 games sell more than 10 million units, 7 of which were over 20 million, while the PS3 had only 2 games over 10 million units, and they barely broke that. So people definitely bought games on the Wii... the relevant part there is that all those mega-sellers were Nintendo games. So third parties weren't getting a lot of that massive revenue pie. The question is: Was it because they never made games worth any of that revenue, or because the audience really didn't care?

The fact is, we'll never really know, because they didn't make those games, and the Wii is pretty well buried at this point. Maybe the Wii U will show the potential for those games on Nintendo systems.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
Another note on attach rate, The Wii is actually right there in the mix with PS3 and X360 for attach rates. The Wii has an attach rate of 8.6, the PS3 is 8.4 and the X360 is 9.5.

But there is a lot of correlation with attach rate and how long a console has been on the market and how fast it initially sold. The longer a console is on the market (X360) the higher it's attach rate is likely to be and the faster a console sells initially, the fewer games they'll pick up right away because gamers don't buy the entirety of their collection the same day they buy their console.

Zelnick's skepticism is partially warranted because historically 3rd parties haven't done well on recent Nintendo consoles but it is also at their own doing. They NEVER put a major title with major marketing onto the console so there really isn't a precedent to begin with. But it is a risky market to put major support behind any new console regardless of the historical sales facets of the predecessor.

As for ZombiU being a core gamer test, not at all. That game looks to me to be no different than the efforts put forth on Wii last generation. That is not a major title effort. Minimal budget and scope being thrown out to test waters. Probably a fun game but not one that measure up with ACIII as a means to measure the core gamer reaction to Wii U and unfortunately that game isn't exclusive so you can't use it either.
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers5 years ago
@Nicolas: You're mistaken about Conduit and MadWorld - both got TV ad spend, and the disappointing results of those games (and Dead Space: Extraction, which also came out during that time period) basically sunk the chances for more of their ilk and the Wii was increasingly abandoned by third-parties.

There's the inherent problem of console exclusives right now; mainly, it doesn't pay for third-parties to make them anymore. That, I think, really helped squeeze the Wii since developers could focus on that console and its capabilities... or a PS3/Xbox 360 product that could also come to PC.

There's been a lot of talk how the middle class of games is getting squeezed out, and I think this particularly negatively impacted the Wii. It was hard to get Wii products to look as impressive next to their HD counterparts. Also, as time wore on, I think the novelty of motion controls wore off and gamers were more interested in graphical fidelity and online capabilties - it would explain why early generation core games on Wii performed better than their sequels (see No More Heroes).

As far as third-parties heavily investing on Nintendo platforms, there's the infamous example of Capcom pushing hard on the GCN. That didn't exactly go swimingly, and they canceled a few projects and ported others (Viewtiful Joe, Killer7, Resident Evil 4) to the PS2.

Something is going to have to be an example as to why or why not to bring more games to the Wii U; ZombiU and every other third party game coming at launch are going to be used as a basis for how companies construct their Wii U policies going forward. I'm not exactly optimistic, but we'll see.

Ultimately, the Wii U might end up in a similar spot that the Wii did; a generation behind when it comes to processor power and increasingly dismissed by core gamers. Nintendo can crow to the high heavens their going after a more core audience, but their initial game announcements (Wii U Fit, Sing It, New Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendo Land, Pikmin 3) seem mostly focused on the mostly casual audience that made the Wii a success initially. It's a crapshoot predicting anything right now, however, especially since we don't even really know what the next Sony/Microsoft generation will look like or what their prices will be.
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