For Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, steering the slow-selling Wii U into the right direction comes down to two goals: Keeping Nintendo’s first-party game releases coming on a regular basis, and facilitating hit third-party games on the console.
Iwata’s comments come as he answered a question from a concerned investor during a recent shareholders meeting
. Nintendo’s Wii U has been struggling to gain momentum, with gaps in first-party software releases and little in the way of compelling third-party game support.
It’s a situation that Iwata knows must be fixed soon.
Iwata said Nintendo “[Needs] to seamlessly release our first-party titles starting from next month to improve the momentum of Wii U. As third-party software developers do business for their own profits, they tend to avoid investing in a platform with little presence. We would therefore like them to see Wii U as a platform with which they feel they can make profits from an economical perspective.”
In other words, Nintendo needs to release first-party software that’s compelling enough to drive Wii U hardware sales (Nintendo is counting on this summer’s Pikmin 3
to move hardware units). A larger installed base means more potential software customers, and therefore is more attractive to third-party publishers.
Iwata added that Nintendo can’t rely on paying for Wii U titles out of pocket. “Buying our way to create such a good condition for developers, our own business could collapse,” he said. “Accordingly, we will give more momentum to Wii U through our software. This is one thing we need to do.”
The second aspect is less in Nintendo’s control: Basically, Nintendo hopes that upcoming third-party software titles prove to be a hit on Wii U, so that other third-party developers see that Wii U is a worthwhile business.
“There were so many games released by third party publishers for Wii U during the launch period, but most of them were converted from other platforms and therefore could not enjoy brisk sales,” said Iwata.
“As a result, some software developers have become pessimistic about Wii U," he admitted. “However, the time will come when some third-party games for Wii U and for other platforms are released at the same time this year. It is important to have given much momentum to Wii U around that period.”
Nintendo has high hopes for upcoming third-party Wii U games such as Assassin’s Creed Black Flag
, Batman: Arkham Origins
, Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut
, Skylanders Swap Force
and other titles, from companies such as Ubisoft, Warner, Square Enix, and Activision.
Iwata hopes that high-performing games will coax more third-parties into the fold.
“Even if these publishers did not have any concrete plans to develop Wii U software, they will swiftly change their minds when they see the successful examples from others,” said Iwata. “By giving sales momentum to Wii U through our first-party software in the short run and seeing success from third-party software within this year, we would like to dramatically change the situation of Wii U next year and beyond.”