The Wii was such a smash that there were more games released for the system than you could ever possibly play (or probably should play, given some of the shovelware!). But Nintendo’s Wii U is off to a rocky start, and could end up like the GameCube — a system beloved by only die-hard fans for the amazing first-party games. But Nintendo put out a press release today reminding everyone that there are third-party games coming for the Wii U… eventually.
On the list are Disney’s Planes, the licensed tie-in to the movie coming out this August. But with the game hitting all Nintendo systems, I’m skeptical that the Wii U version will be anything more than the Wii version gussied up with HD graphics and some GamePad touch screen control. (Like the 3DS one will likely be the DS game in 3D.) It is interesting that Planes is releasing exclusively on Nintendo systems, and not the PS3 or Xbox 360. But this isn’t exactly the kind of exclusive that’s going to sell systems. August 18 brings Disney Infinity to the Wii U, Wii and 3DS, which is basically Skylanders with Disney toys that you import into the game and play in the Disney worlds.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist is coming to Wii U on August 20, with some special GamePad features that might make it stand out above the other console versions. And Rayman Legends is still coming… a demo will be available in late April. Injustice, Fast & Furious Showdown and Sniper Elite V2 will be released on the Wii U as well as other systems, but LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, Resident Evil: Revelations and Deus EX: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut are all old games hitting the new system. (Although to be fair, the improvements made to Deus Ex are substantial, and almost worth it.) I get that they want to build the Wii U library, but it would be better to do that with multiplatform releases of current games instead of porting year-old games onto a new system.
There are also some eShop games to download, like DuckTales Remastered, Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara, Mutant Mudds Deluxe, Spin The Bottle and Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails. But obviously none of those are going to sell systems.
Will any of these be enough? Or will Wii U owners be forced to satisfy themselves with Nintendo’s first party offerings? It’s interesting that nowhere in the press release did Nintendo mention Bayonetta 2, which I know a lot of gamers are really excited for. And being a Wii U exclusive, you’d think they’d want to promote the hell out of that. (Unless of course, this is a harbinger of it not being exclusive anymore…)
The problem with the Wii U is the dearth of must-buy titles for the fledgling console. And the catch-22 is that people won’t buy the system without those must-play games, and developers won’t make games for a system that people aren’t buying. A console can’t survive without third-party support. Although I don’t believe that third-party games are ever going to be system-sellers. I can’t imagine any kind of Wii U-exclusive features a developer could include in a game that would make someone buy the console just to play that version of it. Of course, lots of “experts” pronounced the 3DS DOA when it released, and it’s doing much better now, so the same could hold true for the Wii U. Maybe after this rocky start, we’ll get some games that will give it a firmer foothold in the console marketplace. Or as I said, it’ll be another GameCube or Dreamcast and be a fan favorite without being a marketplace success.