Bethesda Game Studios is a big deal in the video game industry; the company is behind major titles such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which it developed, and it handled publication of Fallout: New Vegas. Both are epic, open-world titles with enough content to devour dozens of hours, yet if your gaming has been restricted to Nintendo in recent years you won't have played either. The scale of the environments, especially with HD graphics to boot, put games such as these beyond the scope of Wii.
While Wii U has some large-scale HD games confirmed, it seems we'll need to wait longer to find out whether Bethesda's titles will be joining in. Speaking to MCV magazine, as reported by videogamer.com, Bethesda's PR and marketing VP Pete Hines rather bluntly stated that Wii U hasn't been ruled out or confirmed as a viable platform for the company.
[Our] approach has been to put our games out on all of the platforms that will support them. So far the Wii hasn't fitted into that. Whether Wii U does down the road is TBD.
Hines does go on to explain some of the reasoning behind Bethesda's platform decisions and argues that the existing HD platforms have much to give, while moving to new consoles can bring its own set of problems.
I don't think the current generation of consoles are holding us back. There is still plenty that we are able to do visually, technically and from a story-telling standpoint. And there's this huge built-in audience now.
For me the problems with new consoles are two-fold. The developers are trying to hit a moving technical target, because the platforms are being built. A new console doesn't just show up a year before launch and is exactly what it will be when it comes out.
It moves and iterates along the way. And introducing something like that to games that are in development is always a bit tricky. And that is obviously an element of risk.
The second point is that your install base always starts at zero. Then it comes out and suddenly a certain number of people buy it but it won't be the same number as the current gen. So you have divided your audience.
It's then a case of: are we just making it for the next gen? Or next gen and current gen? And how many people from the current gen that I'm targeting have moved over to the next gen? It does complicate things a little bit.
Obviously the changes they are going to make technologically, in terms of the things we will be able to do, are exciting. But it comes at a price.
It's clear that Bethesda's dilemma is influenced by the kind of games that it produces, with concerns about investing a large budget on a console with a new user base. It's a challenge that Nintendo and its competitors with face in the next couple of years, and is likely to lead to some bumps along the road for developers.