Appearances Suggest EA Already Abandoning the Wii U

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Posted February 4th, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Recent developments have brought into question whether EA will be supporting the Nintendo Wii U in a reliable manner going forward. At the Q3 financial call last week CEO John Riccitiello made sure to avoid lumping the relatively new console in with the company’s definition of the next generation of gaming. 

Ours is an industry where a lot of devices come in and represent themselves as the next generation, or the next generation after that. In many ways we would argue that the what we’re describing as “gen 4″ is yet to come. It’s that that we’re excited about, and that’s what we’re investing in.

So maybe then it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that besides Need for Speed: Most Wanted, which will hit stores nearly five months after it already appeared on the Xbox 360 and PS3, EA has no games officially announced on their release schedule for the system. While there are certain to be other EA games in the pipeline what stands out is the lack of Tiger Woods 14 and now, apparently, even Madden NFL 25 (14).

The Tiger franchise was a very strong seller on the Wii until his off-the-course transgressions were exposed. That didn’t mesh with the family-friendly consumer base and sales plummeted after that. Madden is curious because the exclusive license deal has required release on every major system. That is why, despite no traction, the company kept churning out Wii titles and even stuck with the PS2 and PSP longer than anyone else. It’s unclear how EA could get around that clause with the Wii U. It’s possible that the language in the agreement changed when the NFL and EA agreed to extend the license for this extra year upcoming. Regardless they didn’t just leave the Wii U (and Vita) out as platforms the games will be releasing on by accident so maybe something else is happening behind the scenes. That the Wii U still does not have a method for publishers to make money on DLC is another factor that is coming into play right now.

The sports games that launched with the Wii U were all decent – considering they were ported over that was anticipated though some technical hangups appeared as well – and utilized the tablet controller to varying degrees of success (check out the reviews of Madden NFL 13, FIFA 13, and NBA 2K13). They moved very few copies at retail which could be attributed in varying degree to a small user base, the Gamecube and especially Wii degrading the credibility of sports titles on those systems therefore affecting the perception of Nintendo in that space, and the lack of reason for anyone to purchase them if they already owned them on another console and especially when at a higher price.

In all likelihood the Wii U will be treated as last generation going forward. That was anticipated by many long ago and means it’ll receive few resources and eventually be phased out alongside the 360 and PS3. That it seems to be happening already makes it look as though EA has already determined there is no incentive for them to invest in products for the Wii U. The potential rewards for doing so simply aren’t there compared to the development costs even with the need only to port over from the other HD consoles. That will be disappointing for those who own the system but from a business standpoint it would be hard to disagree with their decision making as they focus instead of the next Xbox and PS4 which are expected out late this year.

  • http://twitter.com/Bgamer90 Brad Davis

    Something that I have even noticed myself personally is how EA games aren’t coming out on as many platforms as they used to (back about 5 or 6 years ago). It seems like they are cutting back a bit.

    Back 7-8 years ago, directors of Madden would say something similar to, “It’s Madden! It’s coming out on just about everything!” in interviews; and that’s because it was pretty much true. You had Madden games released around that time that came out on the PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, PC, PS1, DS, GBA, and even GBC.

    Now though they are definitely cutting back and they seem to be only focusing on the Playstation system and Xbox system. I think online gaming has a large role in it. They know that the majority of the online console core gaming community are playing on the xbox or playstation.

    Nintendo being so late/outdated to the online game has definitely hurt their consoles even more when it comes to third party support.

    “Why should we support this console when…

    1. It’s not as powerful as the consoles we could do/add much more on.

    2. Based on sales of games of the same genre, the audience that plays consoles from this company usually aren’t interested in the games we make.

    3. The system is lacking in its online features/community… causing the time we put into huge online features to probably go to waste.

    (and)

    4. The system has a poor attach rate overall at the moment.”

    It’s just a bad spot overall for the Wii U. Fortunately though, the system will have new Nintendo games. If it didn’t then man… the system would pretty much be DOA.

  • http://twitter.com/dhodgs David Hodgson

    I hope the Wii U fails miserably, Nintendo goes broke and is forced to finally sell my Mariners so we can get decent ownership and maybe win more than 80 games at some point.

  • BA

    This is a problem with exclusive licenses. EA decides that they won’t be able to milk much money from the console after a couple of crappy ports and now competition can’t come in to at least provide an option.

  • Dalibor

    Yeah, this isn’t anything new. Since the launch Madden game for the 3DS, we haven’t seen a game on that console either. The problem is that even Nintendo admitted early on that the WiiU was not “Gen 4″ and that it was a stop-gap for whatever the future is. I don’t think EA is alone and other developers and publishers have also pointed out that WiiU isn’t in their development plans. Considering how the GamePad, its biggest feature, is not mandatory is a worrisome problem.

    But have we maybe considered that perhaps the “shush” regarding Nintendo and to some extent the PS Vita is because studios are waiting to reveal what exactly is Gen 4? In Vita’s case, perhaps the rumours about touch capabilities and connectivity is a Gen 4 feature. Since we can also expect that NextBox will do similar things, they can’t reveal their WiiU plans because it could be viewed as leaking information regarding next gen.

    I know its a slow news period but speculation doesn’t really help, since it’s so easy to do. We could spew out rumours til the cows come home and still not really get anywhere. I say we just wait until this “Future of PlayStation” announcement later this month to begin all this talk. Because chances are, since we don’t actually have any direct involvement in all this, we’re completely wrong about everything.

  • http://twitter.com/SpudimusPrime89 Andrew Falkenhan

    Doesn’t help that Madden was using last year’s engine and FIFA was almost exactly like the previous game

  • Jeff

    This is exactly the kind of opinion piece that demonstrates the extremely low quality of this blog. It is a real disgrace that this is the only real sports gaming blog and several times a year I log on and find factually false information posted. Let us get started.

    First, the Wii U absolutely has a method for publishers to make money on DLC. Assassin’s Creed 3 all ready has two DLC packs available on the Wii U Store. http://www.joystiq.com/2013/01/17/assassins-creed-3-hidden-secrets-battle-hardened-dlc-now-on-wi/

    Second, EA has announced Madden in the past to just be issued on the PS3 & 360 and added the Wii, PS2, & PSP at a later date. Going back and looking at old Google News articles it has happened at least two times this past generation, it’s nothing new. Why EA does this I do not know, but it is surely something a gaming blog should know about. Taken these two facts this entire opinion piece, like most on this site, is entirely baseless and is nothing more than the worst of the worst you would find on a common forum. Have some respect for the sports gaming world and the position you hold as the top sports gamer blog, learn to read, write, and analyze properly you are making us all look like total idiots and doing the whole genre a great disservice with this trash,

  • DonRSD aka PSN DonVCorleone

    Hopefully 2k makes a comeback.
    I wont be buying Madden this year, unless its used.
    I’d rather give my money to GameStop than to Madden itself.

    As for the online pass, I can use my friends Madden pass & download it to my system for FREE :)

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