Talking Point: Wii U and Third-Party Inconsistencies Pose Questions for Console Owners

Is Nintendo's system enough on its own?

It's been a slightly bruising week for the Wii U, though some positives have also emerged. From a first-party perspective there's the notable positive of Pikmin 3 hitting the valuable North American market, a game generally considered to be of excellent quality and an opening salvo in Nintendo's bold plans of recovery for the home console. On the negative side, we've had news of very poor console sales between 1st April and 30th June, just 160,000 units worldwide, but also some disappointing missed features in confirmed third-party titles.

The most damaging revelation, perhaps, was the complete absence of the new multiplayer mode in the Wii U version of Batman: Arkham Origins, with the dev team "focusing development efforts on platforms with the largest multiplayer audience". Then we have the revelation from our own interview with Splinter Cell Blacklist Producer Liu Jun, in which it emerged that despite having full online co-op, multiplayer and DLC support, the Wii U version will not include offline co-op, with the reason given that the feature was skipped "in order to ship at the same time as the other consoles".

What this seems to represent is a classic catch-22 scenario; since the Wii era particularly, Nintendo consumer support for third-party games has been modest and often low, yet from the consumer's perspective that's often because these ports or multi-platform iterations are weaker than on other systems. Publishers and developers hesitate to put the same investment into Nintendo systems as they do rivals due to expectations of limited sales, but that lack of investment creates ill-will and consumers don't buy the games. Neither side satisfies the other, and no-one wins.

It's been an issue since the Wii, perhaps, as the system had less graphical and online grunt, while offering a different set of control inputs, meaning that quick and cheap ports weren't as simplistic as on other systems. It's no surprise that Microsoft and PlayStations controllers, with fairly minor differences, have the same sticks and buttons for developers to utilise, which certainly wasn't the case with Nintendo's last-generation system. The Wii U goes some way to resolve that issue, in that the basic inputs remain the same on the GamePad, but with a touchscreen that can be ignored or simply used for mirroring the TV's image.

Despite that universal approach of the GamePad's core inputs, we have the legacy of the underpowered SD Wii with its Remote and Nunchuk, and the aforementioned low support from publishers and related poor third-party sales. The Wii U has arrived between a rock and a hard place, battling that Wii legacy, established HD platforms that offer up a significant range of multi-platform software, and new powerful rivals coming later this year. Unsurprisingly, especially with the system's slow overall start, securing full-fat multi-platform releases has been a challenge for Nintendo.

It's not been all bad, and there are even a few third-party exclusives coming to the system via PlatinumGames (though published by Nintendo), SEGA and Disney Interactive. We do also have quite a few blockbusters coming to the system in 2013, but as mentioned above there can be compromises. In the case of Splinter Cell Blacklist in particular there are potential benefits to the Wii U GamePad control scheme, but as was clear from the reaction of various members of the Nintendo Life community, the absence of local co-op can be a game-breaker for some gamers.

And so we get to the big point. The increasingly heard refrain is that gamers buy Nintendo systems for Nintendo games, getting most major third-party fixes from elsewhere. That's not what the big N wants to hear, or course, and it's also the case that not all gamers can necessarily afford or want multiple consoles, especially with a Wii U Deluxe model having a standard price of $349.99 — excluding offers — and the PS4 and Xbox One will cost more. As we transition to 2014 and beyond, running multiple consoles for the best of first and third-party content could be a challenge for many.

So is the Wii U and its third-party offerings likely to be enough, or is another system likely to be needed to satisfy most gamers? We're focusing on the coming generation of systems — presumably over a console lifespan of multiple years — rather than PS3 or Xbox 360. There are multiple polls below to gauge your views on some of these issues, so let us know what you think.

What's your view on the overall quality and content of multi-platform games on Wii U so far? (500 votes)

I'm happy with the games the system's had and don't have any complaints

7%

They've been decent, with some areas for improvement

33%

I don't know, I mostly play Nintendo games

11%

Quite disappointing overall, I expect better

29%

Very disappointing, and not good enough

19%

None of the above

1%

Please login to vote in this poll.

How important are missing multi-platform games, or features within confirmed releases, to you? (480 votes)

It doesn't bother me at all, as I don't want third-party games on Wii U

4%

It's a bit disappointing, but I can live with the occasional missing feature or game

19%

It hasn't really affected me (in terms of games I want) yet

18%

Missing games and content does matter, and I find it frustrating

40%

It really bothers me, and affects how much I enjoy the Wii U

12%

Issues with third-party content have actually put me off getting a Wii U

6%

None of the above

  0%

Please login to vote in this poll.

Is there enough third-party content for the Wii U (both released and confirmed)? (479 votes)

I think so, no complaints from me

4%

There's quite a lot of good third-party games, though it could be a little better

19%

I have a Wii U for Nintendo games, so I don't care

9%

I think the system needs more third-party content

34%

No, too many games have skipped the system

33%

None of the above

1%

Please login to vote in this poll.

Is the Wii U going to be enough, on its own, as a home console for the next 4-5 years? (489 votes)

Yes, I only plan on having a Wii U for home console gaming this coming gen

30%

I think so, but I may change my mind in the future

16%

I don't have a Wii U and don't plan to buy one

2%

Not quite, I'm strongly considering a PS4 or Xbox One as well as a Wii U

19%

No way, I'll need at least another home console with my Wii U

19%

I'm a PC gamer, so the Wii U will be my only home console

11%

None of the above

2%

Please login to vote in this poll.