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."