Ubisoft has had an interesting history with the Wii U to date, showing early support but following up that strong start with a controversial delay of Rayman Legends and missing DLC in major releases. Sales figures for Wii U games from the publisher do explain, however, why the company has been dropping back a fair bit of its support.
We're already in a scenario where the latest Assassin's Creed titles, separate games for PS4 / Xbox One and PS3 / Xbox 360, are skipping Wii U, and there have been so-called 'next gen' games — a phrase still used, even though we don't favour it — that have been branded as experiences only possible on the most powerful hardware. One game that's been given that promotional angle has been The Crew, a driving title that encourages seamless and always-online interaction and apparently allows the player to drive across the whole of a virtual US. Gamescom has brought a surprise, however, as Ubisoft has now confirmed that the distinctly last-gen Xbox 360 will also receive The Crew, and it'll apparently be the same game — visuals and framerate will likely be the only differences.
VideoGamer.com has taken the opportunity to ask the obvious question of a Ubisoft representative — if The Crew can be made to run on Xbox 360, why isn't it also making the jump to Wii U and PS3?
The Crew is originally built for the new generation of consoles so when we made the decision to port it to the previous generation of consoles, we decided to focus solely on the platform closest to the new-gen's technical infrastructure, which is the Xbox 360.
We are not currently working on a PS3 or Wii U version, we are rather focused on delivering The Crew for Xbox One, PS4, PC and Xbox360 simultaneously on November 11th.
There is a degree of fairness to these comments — the PS3's infrastructure is powerful but awkward, while the Wii U has a similar issue as Nintendo incorporates its own fairly unique approach to its system architecture; it's also possible that integrating the always-online play is easier on Microsoft's setup. That reasoning doesn't necessarily make the reality any less disappointing, of course.
There's never been much expectation that The Crew would come to Wii U, but today's Xbox 360 reveal does offer some proof — not that it's needed — that games supposedly developed from the ground-up for 'next-gen' hardware can, with enough will, be produced for older or less overtly powerful hardware.
Thanks to Benson Uii for the tip.