A lot of people were quick to offer their judgment on the future of the Wii U within a few days of its release. Truth be told, that’s not fair. Heck, even after a month of owning Nintendo’s newest console, this isn’t fair. While we have a general idea of what to expect in the near future, we don’t know what lies beyond the launch window. However, we can take a look at the launches of other recent consoles and be able to track a well-estimated future for the Wii U.
It’s been noted that the variety of games being offered aren’t the greatest in the world, and that immediately spells doom and gloom apparently. But honestly, that couldn’t be further from the truth. While if you compare the Wii U’s day-one titles to what PS3 and Xbox 360 owners have been playing this year, then yes, it’s a bit lacking. But it’s important to note that there’s actual third-party support for a Nintendo console now. If we look back at the launches of both the Wii and the GameCube, this was something that simply wasn’t there. Sure, Nintendo’s purple cube had Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 and Crazy Taxi, but contrast those with Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect. Truth be told, it just doesn’t match up. As for the Wii’s launch? Well, let’s just say people were more than happy to play Twilight Princess and Wii Sports, both of which were first-party titles.
If there’s one thing that’s in common between the Wii and GameCube, it’s the fact that third-party games never truly thrived on the system. The GameCube had a few exceptions to this rule, but even so, hits like Resident Evil 4 eventually saw releases on the PS2. Tales of Symphonia is one of the few top-quality third-party releases to remain exclusive to the system here in North America (Japan saw a PS2 release), but the success it saw stateside wasn’t enough to keep the Tales series on a Nintendo console.
The Wii U managed to shake the third-party stigma on day one, giving hope for continued support down the line. For those worried that the graphics aren’t up to par need to take a side-by-side look at Oblivion and Skyrim. Developers get used to consoles and pump out better visuals over time. The Wii U won’t be an exception to this rule.
Equally important is the continued support for the console during its launch window, which runs through March, and beyond. On the horizon are several Nintendo-published titles, such as The Wonderful 101 and LEGO City Undercover, and then Pikmin 3 and Bayonetta 2 further down the road. Even Ubisoft is having high hopes, as they’re releasing Rayman Legends exclusively for Nintendo’s newest system in just a few months. Aliens: Colonial Marines will also see a Wii U release alongside the “big boys,” the Xbox 360 and PS3.
While there’s still no BioShock Infinite or Grand Theft Auto V, we can’t expect every single developer out there to jump onto the Wii U ship immediately. Both Irrational and Rockstar are companies that take their time with their games to ensure the highest quality possible. The former has delayed Infinite a few times to ensure proper polish on the title while the latter doesn’t commit to release dates until the very last minute for that same reason. So if we’d ask the two studios to learn the ins and outs of the Wii U while they’re putting every ounce of manpower toward systems they’re already comfortable with, then quality would undoubtedly suffer.
It’s also important to note that Wii U editions of both BioShock Infinite and Grand Theft Auto V haven’t been completely ruled out. Recently during an AMA on Reddit, Ken Levine, co-founder of Irrational Games and Creative Director over BioShock Infinite, completely danced around the question, stating that Infinite would be released on GameBoy Color (a joke, obviously) and his Wii U plans include downloading Darksiders II.
As for GTA V, the game hasn’t even been announced for PC, but both versions are being considered.
Randy Pitchford from Gearbox, the studio behind Aliens: Colonial Marines, is a fan of the system and has admitted to wanting to make sure that a Borderlands port would have a worthy usage for the GamePad. While, to be honest, it’s a lame excuse (using the GamePad as an inventory would be more than perfect), it’s still an acknowledgement of a potential port. Developers tended to ignore Nintendo for the longest time. Now they’re more than intrigued by the Wii U, and compared to the two previous Nintendo consoles, there’s plenty of reason for optimism.
But that’s just looking at what Nintendo has offered. What about the other guys? Over at Microsoft, you can pin much of the success of the original Xbox on one title: Halo. Without it, there’d be no Xbox. Heck, you could even point at the Nintendo 64’s day-one titles and do the same with Super Mario 64, one of only two games available at launch. This shows the vital importance of a “killer app” for a gaming console. Wii Sports made people run out and buy Wiis willy nilly. Halo won over the “hardcore” crowd. Mario 64 won over, well, everybody.
But if you don’t have a day-one killer app, then it’s important to have a game that’s surprisingly enjoyable to help the system limp toward the big guns. The PlayStation 3 had that with Resistance: Fall of Man. Did anyone actually expect the Resistance series to be the ultimate Halo killer? Probably not. Did PS3 owners enjoy the game? They most certainly did. There are a lot of jokes to make about the launch games for the PS3, but no one’s making any cracks at the console now. Heck, the 360 even had to live past the disappointment that was Perfect Dark: Zero before Gears of War was released to critical acclaim. But it had plenty of help in terms of continued game releases, such as Dead or Alive 4, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Plus, it had a year head start on its competitors.
If those last two sentences sound familiar for Wii U owners, that’s because, well, they should. Nintendo potentially has a year head start on Sony and Microsoft. There’s continued support towards games that’ll release at the end of 2013. Sure, we don’t know what the hell they are, but we will find out no later than E3. And, most importantly, Nintendo has finally jumped on the HD and Internet bandwagons with full force. We know that consoles aren’t deemed a success or failure in their first days; the PS3 is living proof of that. They’re instead decided by how well they perform as they take their first steps. Again, the PS3 is proof of that.
So, based on our look back, we can expect the Wii U to do just fine, meaning those prophets of Wii U doom and gloom need to be educated.
Date: December 28, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*