One thing was painfully evident during E3 — third-party developers, even those that have previously been full-on with support, are backing off from the Wii U until its fortunes improve. Ubisoft, which has been keen to bring multi-platform blockbusters to the system, tellingly left Wii U out of its newly announced titles. Whether down to technical limitations or concerns about making money on the system — a mixture of both depending on the game — a number of developers and publishers were silent on titles for Nintendo's console.
Speaking to IGN, Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime were clear that they value and recognise the importance of third-parties, but know that Nintendo has to step up to boost the userbase of the Wii U to make it a viable financial option for other companies. Fils-Aime stated that the position of various publishers was understandable, but that discussions about what's coming to Wii U — in terms of system-selling games — was encouraging a potential increase in support with future projects.
I’ve had conversations with a number of the publishers. As they see what we’re doing and the commitment we have with Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda… As we have behind-the-scenes conversations about what’s further in development and what’s coming down, the decisions around the next lineup of development and where they’re going to put their development dollars are starting to shift.
...Looking at this through the prism of a business decision, if I’m a third-party publisher, what I want is that I want a large, diverse installed base to invest in my development and be able to monetize against that large installed base. That’s why, from a Nintendo first-party perspective, we have to drive the installed base. We need a diverse group of consumers. Not just core, not just casual, but a broad, diverse group of consumers within that installed base, so that whether you’re Ubi with Assassin’s Creed or with Just Dance, you’re feeling confident that your game is going to find a home. You’ll be able to monetize your development.
Satoru Iwata also pitched in to explain the importance of third-party content in terms of delivering diverse software, admitting that Nintendo doesn't have the resources or skill-set to deliver on all of the projects and experiences that consumers demand.
If we had an infinite amount of resources, development resources, we might be able to satisfy any and all needs of game players and non-game players all over the world. But our resources are always limited. The fact of the matter is that there are some areas of game creation that Nintendo is very good at, but there are other things that Nintendo is not very good at. There are huge numbers of fans of Nintendo software, but at the same time, those types of players still sometimes want to play something else on our platform. Because of that, we always need third parties to support us, in order to make our platform complete.
Certainly candid comments from Nintendo's senior executives, and an acknowledgement that Wii U will need more than just Nintendo games in the long term.There's certainly a strong software lineup up this Holiday and in Spring 2014, so the company will rely on that to drive significant sales and bring third-parties back on board. What do you make of these various comments, and are you confident that Nintendo will succeed in bringing "development dollars" back to Wii U?