Nintendo’s Wii U developer problem

, | Games


Nintendo has a problem with getting third-party next-gen games for their Wii U console. Over the past few weeks, developers and publishers have one by one confirmed that this game or that will not be coming to the Wii U. Is it a crippling issue? Not yet, but let’s look at some of the things that have gone wrong.

Denial after denial after the break!

In the May print issue of Game Informer, Deep Silver, publishers of Saints Row, Metro: Last Light, and Dead Island admitted that they have no plans to make Wii U ports of their upcoming games. This follows the high-profile confirmation to Kotaku’s Kirk Hamilton that Epic was not making their Unreal Engine 4 platform in a Wii U compatible version.

I figured I’d ask straight-out, so during the Q&A with Rein, I did. “Will UE4 run on the Wii U?”

“Hahaha no.” Rein said, with expert comedic timing. The room erupted with laughter. As the laughs died down, Rein continued: “I mean, sorry, it’s not really a correct answer. We’re not… we have Unreal Engine 3 for the Wii U. Right? And Unreal Engine 3 is powering all kinds of amazing games, still lots of games are being made with Unreal Engine 3. We announced today about a new Unreal Engine 3 license. Unreal Engine 3 doesn’t disappear because of Unreal Engine 4. But our goal for Unreal Engine 4 console-wise is next-gen consoles. That’s really what our energies are focused on. If you want to make a Wii U game, we have Unreal Engine 3, and it’s powering some of the best games on the Wii U already

Rein later clarified to Engadget that he didn’t really mean anything by laughing at the question and that if someone else wanted to use UE4 to make a game for the Wii U, they were welcome to the task.

So, no Dead Island Riptide, or Bulletstorm 2 for the Wii U. Big deal, right? Well, no. It’s a bit worse than that. Unreal has always been a popular engine choice for developers because of its robust nature, ease of editing, and good visuals. No UE4 for the Wii U means missing out on a lot of games next generation. Rein’s insistence that someone else could do the work of getting the engine working on Nintendo’s system is an easy deflection that probably won’t hold much water. Why would any dev spend the resources to do that when the sales for the hardware are so sluggish?

Which brings us to another important hole in the future game line-up. EA’s Frostbite Engine won’t be coming to the Wii U either according to an interview with Eurogamer at the recent Battlefield 4 event.

The biggest problem we have right now is we don’t want to back down from what we see as our low spec machines. We right now don’t have support for the Wii U in the Frostbite engine. The reason for that is it takes development time. What should we focus on to create the best possible Battlefield experience? We are now focused on PC and the current-gen platforms, and then there might be other platforms in the future that we can’t talk about…

No Battlefield 4 on Wii U? Well you can live with that, right? Sure. Oh, but EA said that Frostbite is going to be their core in-house engine. Its being used to power at least 14 upcoming games.


It’s been confirmed that Dragon Age 3 and Mass Effect 4 will be using Frostbite.

This leaves the Wii U in a precarious third party relationship position as the new consoles are coming from Sony and Microsoft.