Nintendo depending on third parties for Wii U

Company limiting first-party titles at launch, expecting drastically improved external support for new console

It's been said that gamers buy Nintendo consoles for Nintendo games, but the Mario maker is hoping they'll be happy with fewer first-party titles than normal for the Wii U's launch. In a post-earnings Q&A with investors released in English today, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said Nintendo is trying to avoid a post-launch release slump by rationing out its first-party Wii U titles.

"Nintendo tends to release too many titles at the launch of a hardware system and as a result suffers a drop in new games for quite some time after launch, and for the Wii U launch, we are being very careful not to let it happen," Iwata told investors. "Fortunately, third-party publishers overseas are launching many titles for us this time, and we were able to push back the release of some of the titles that we had originally intended to release as launch titles until next year."

"Nintendo tends to release too many titles at the launch of a hardware system..."

Satoru Iwata

However, Iwata believes third-party publishers will step in to help address the need for high-quality software in the interim.

"I think that the ratio between first-party titles and third-party titles this time will be drastically different from then," Iwata said. "The first-party ratio was very high at first for both the Nintendo DS and Wii systems, and this trend has continued until now for Wii in Japan. For Nintendo DS worldwide and Wii overseas, the third-party ratio gradually increased as time went by. I expect that it will be high at a relatively early stage for Wii U."

Iwata also addressed the company's growing digital business, saying he expects revenues from full-game downloads to be "totally different" from when they were limited to Virtual Console and WiiWare sales, and added that Nintendo should disclose an outlook for digital sales so investors can recognize it as a growth area for the company. Continuing on the topic of digital revenues, Iwata said Nintendo is being selective with how it rolls out downloadable content into its games. While New Super Mario Bros. 2's new levels have received a good response according to Iwata, he said the company will only pursue DLC for games where it will help build long-term relationships with its consumers.

"For example, some might say that it would be unbelievably profitable to provide paid add-on content for Animal Crossing: New Leaf, but we were concerned that a game in which you enjoy yourself more by the power of money would not be suitable, and we decided to avoid such a feature after an intensive discussion with the development team," Iwata said.

More stories

Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund buys 5% stake in Nintendo

The PIF said that it acquired this stake "for investment purposes"

By Marie Dealessandri

The birthplace of Nintendo

Now converted into a hotel, we take a look at the former headquarters where the Mario maker transformed into the company we know today

By Geoffrey Bunting

Latest comments (9)

Its a good move. The WiiU is all about trying to lure third-parties back to Nintendo, and the best way to do that is allow them easy sales & profits. And nothing beats launch titles for that.

If Nintendo can establish the WiiU on "level" with the other consoles (or even their future iterations) - they should win, because Nintendo has the best gaming IP and it will be exclusive to the WiiU.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
James Prendergast Process Specialist 9 years ago
Good third party support and quality games on a Nintendo system? I'll believe that when I see it! ;)
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Caleb Hale Journalist 9 years ago
Third-party games that would help: Borderlands 2, Dishonored, Far Cry 3, the Tomb Raider reboot, Bioshock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto 5. It's unlikely any of these games will be ported over to the Wii U at this point, but making it so would go a long way to showing gamers Nintendo is serious about keeping a flow of titles for its new console steady.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (9)
David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers9 years ago
Nintendo has never been fast when it comes to game development - they're going to need decent third-party support to fill in slots for them, even if it will just be ports.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Henry Toliver Network Analyst I, Windstream9 years ago
Well, some developers say it's not difficult to develop for the Wii U. I also hope that there won't be too much red tape for developers to make games on the system as well. Some say that it was a pain making WiiWare for Nintendo.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
Given the launch lineup, I'd say they've made huge strides to ensuring good 3d party support over previous consoles. Locking in Bayonetta 2 is another example. Can we say they are on par with Sony and MS yet, not at all. Can we say they are substantially in better position than with Wii? Absolutely.

It should also be noted that Nintendo has yet to announce any titles beyond the launch "window" (except perhaps Bayonetta 2 itself) and this includes 3rd party titles. Another factor to consider is developer resources. If a dev has allocated all their resources toward the PS3/X360 release, they simply may not be capable of developing a Wii U SKU even if they wanted to. This is why many 3rd party titles are already currently being outsourced rather than developed in house.

Henry, WiiWare was a pain in the ass. From the licensing fees, certification process and inane file size restrictions. However, developers I've read about and spoken to have stated that Nintendo seems to have fixed everything that was wrong with WiiWare for the new eShop. The only thing left to fix, and they may have already, is their business location requirement. To be a certified developer on Nintendo platforms, Nintendo used to require that a develop have a physical business address. That limited the ability of small party indie studios that work from their own home from being certified. I do hope that Nintendo has eased up that restriction as well but that's the only one I've not heard where they've made any changes yet.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 9 years ago
Well i already have more than 4 titles I want. Maybe not immediatly, but my WiiU library will be clearly over 4 titles in a short amount of time. So if they can buy me into there plan, then most likely many others will too. Because Im very criticle about putting money down for new hardware or tech. Ive never owned an iPhone or iPAD, didnt purchase a 3DS or a VITA. But WiiU I want. And of the 4 titles i want, Super mario bros U, Mass Effect 3, Bayonetta 2, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razors Edge, ZombieU and Tekken tag 2 are just a few that immediatly come to my mind. They also have a great online plan plus the touch screen controller adds lots of great control options. It will be easier to do combos in ME3 and i dont have to shout at the TV like with kinect. I can give my squadmates individual commands, flank and position them better in the field. And the price point I consider still high, but acceptable.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
matthew bennion Web Development 9 years ago
I'm still to be convinced by this "third party support", we had this situation with the Wii, where by we got a few dirty ports with tacked on Wii features. As soon as the next Playstation and Xbox are released the Wii U will be dropped like a stone... I'll be amazed if it isn't!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by matthew bennion on 1st November 2012 5:13pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
Matthew, the difference between Wii and PS3/X360 architecture was why 3rd parties didn't develop much for the Wii. At first, most Wii ports were PS2/Xbox ports. To port from PS3/X360 to Wii practically required the game to be rebuilt from scratch. Programmable shaders to a fixed function pipeline and multiple cores to single core simply didn't allow games to port over very easy. So it cost a lot of money and time to port down to Wii. And let's not forget that some game engines simply couldn't even be ported to the Wii (Unreal Engine 3).

The Wii U won't have that problem. Even if the PS4 and Next X are considerably more powerful, porting down to Wii U will be infinitely more easy than the same situation last generation. This ensures that 3rd party efforts will more likely be there even after the other consoles launch.

To sum up, last generation had an architecture gap alongside the power gap. But it was the architecture gap that was actually the problem for 3rd parties, not the power gap. This time, it's only a power gap. And not only that, but it won't even be the same magnitude of power gap the Wii and HD consoles saw.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.