Wii U: The Box of Broken Promises

I love my Wii U, but I’ve got to admit that Nintendo’s failed to deliver in a number of critical areas – even areas that the company’s executives like Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime promised would be better than previous hardware launches. It’s a bit concerning to see a company that did so well developing and marketing Wii flounder so much in the face of so many issues – so many broken promises to consumers.

Now that the launch window period has come and gone, it’s easy to identify some of the holes in Nintendo’s promise package with Wii U. Let’s take a look at some of the bigger failures.

Promise #1: Wii U Will Learn from the Software Drought of Nintendo 3DS

Remember when Mr. Iwata said that Nintendo was going to avoid the issues they faced with 3DS when launching Wii U? He specifically addressed the major software drought of 2011 as something they were dedicated to overcoming:

As we learned a bitter lesson with the launch of the Nintendo 3DS, we are trying to take every possible measure so that the Wii U will have a successful launch. The company was unable to launch much-anticipated first-party titles for the Wii nor for the Nintendo 3DS in a timely fashion in the first half of the term. In the game platform business, creating momentum is very important, but the momentum was once lost, and it has had a large negative effect on our sales and profits.

Pikmin-3-preview-2However, with Wii U we’ve seen the same pattern repeat itself. The system has seen one Nintendo-published software release since day-one, and it didn’t even come out until the second half of March. And there were only two first-party games at launch: New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land. Every other Nintendo-published title – including Lego City – was developed by a third-party studio.

What’s more, there still aren’t really any first-party releases in sight. We know Game & Wario is supposed to be the next in-house Nintendo title to hit the system, but the signs are pointing to a May or June release at the earliest. Other titles like Pikmin 3, Wii Fit, and Nintendo-published The Wonderful 101 – all of which were supposed to be released during the launch window – are still pretty far off; Wind Waker Wii U, the next 3D Mario, Mario Kart Wii U, and Super Smash Bros. seem light-years away.

That leads me to the next broken promise…

Promise #2: Wii U’s Software Library Will Double During the Early Part of 2013

This promise is related to the last. In December of last year, Reggie Fils-Aime went on record to say that the Wii U’s “more than 30 games” at launch would more than double during the early part of 2013.

Wii U launched in the Americas with more than 30 games. Over the next few weeks and months, we’re going to double that number. We’re excited about the list of games that are coming in the first part of 2013.

the-wonderful-101-screensNow, admittedly, “the next few weeks and months” is a bit vague. However, take that together with the declaration that they’ll be delivering this upcoming software in the “first part of 2013,” and I think it would be pretty fair to say that Nintendo should have been able to double the software lineup of Wii U within its launch window – that’s almost four months from the time Mr. Fils-Aime made this promise. That means that by now, Wii U should have more than 60 games under its belt.

However, since December 5, the system has only seen 18 new games (about 50-something games total). Even if you’re a little generous and count the games released just before the Nintendo Direct aired, there have only been 23 new games for Wii U in North America since its November 18 launch. That’s almost double, but not quite. And even adding in the known releases for April and May doesn’t quite push the library to the promised numbers.

Promise #3: Third-Party Developers are On Board With Wii U for the Future

Okay, I’ll admit, this one isn’t quite a promise in the same sense as the other two. However, it’s nonetheless a point that Nintendo has been driving home since they first announced Wii U – even though in hindsight it seems pretty obvious that reality says differently. Satoru Iwata told investors the following about the third-party situation for Wii U:

While the future of dedicated gaming platforms is now widely discussed, as the graphs for the U.S. market justify, I believe that [Wii U's] lineup [of third-party titles] proves that Nintendo’s vision is shared by many, and there is active support for that too. My aim is to set a successful example towards and after the end of the year that rewards the investment our third-party publishers put into their titles and will then create a chain of other successful titles.

rayman-legends-previewThe fact of the matter is that Mr. Iwata overstated the level of commitment third-party publishers have to Wii U. You just have to look at the current upcoming third-party lineup, the Rayman Legends delay, the ignorance of titles that are actually a good fit for Nintendo’s audience as candidates for Wii U ports, and the ongoing drama of third parties skipping support entirely to see how that situation has fallen apart.

Meanwhile, though many developers seem to have abandoned Wii U, they’re perfectly content to put development force behind platforms that haven’t even sold a single unit yet. We’ve already seen over a dozen games announced for PS4, and it isn’t even E3 yet. Knowing Sony’s aggressive practices in terms of securing third-party support, I’m sure there are many more on the way.

The Good News

There’s something to be said about these still unmet promises, however: they all have to do with software releases – specifically, the lack of software releases. That seems to suggest that once Wii U’s back on track with a steady stream of software releases, it should start doing better at satisfying consumers.

I can think of at least three games due by the end of the year that should start to regenerate Wii U’s performance. However, there’s a problem with that: those games likely won’t be coming until the end of the year. And the other unfortunate thing: there’s no guarantee that they’ll even make that window. After all, Nintendo’s failed to deliver on software promises before. Who’s to say they won’t do it again?


  • Dadoong21

    This website is so negative at times and this is coming from somewhat of a pessimist. Every Wii U article is like it’s the end of the world. Relax a little.

  • http://twitter.com/lukeyp95 Luke :3

    Partially agree and partially disagree. The best Wii U game out right now, without a doubt is Monster Hunter and that’s only recently come out and I’ve played the hell out of it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/henrik.puetz Henrik Puetz

      I have it and played it for 1h .. not that great.but for me it is LC Undercover :D
      Yes there could be more-but its good as it is…

    • Erimgard

      Problem is, Monster Hunter doesn’t really have mass appeal. It’s got its own hardcore fanbase, but it doesn’t really fulfill the needs of your average joe Wii U owner.

      • jcl

        so basically you want more stuff for the casuals and less for the hardcore?

        • Erimgard

          No. I’m just saying Monster Hunter doesn’t have widespread appeal. You can have a “hardcore” game that appeals to lots of people.

        • Primus

          I am going to have to agree with Erimgard. I have a friend who owns both the WiiU and the 3DS, i’ve been trying to convince him to get Monster Hunter Tri Ultimate for either of the two systems however he wont. He knows about the time commitment it takes to play Monster Hunter and he simply won’t do that and rightfully so. Monster Hunter requires time commitment unlike other third party games like the arkham series that can be enjoyed by hardcores and casuals alike.

          There needs to be more game for casuals. Nintendo Land doesn’t fit the bill, its a great multiplayer experience, but imo the fun just goes away once your friends and family leave the game and you are back at single player.

  • name

    I was a nintendo fan till they started making wii. wii u is just another system i refuse to buy.

    • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

      I’m curious: why? Wii U is basically a GameCube, but with options for touch screen and Wii controllers.

      • Kiwi

        Thats the problem…. its just a glorified Gamecube with an extra screen and shotty controls….. Nintendo is going to be the same as Sega by the end of this generation.

        • darkgamer001

          Oh how original, another uninformed prediction of Nintendo doing a Sega, when Sony and MS would technically be more at risk of going Sega’s route then Nintendo.
          Do yourself a favour, research what happened to Sega, their financials, and the sales of their past consoles leading up to their demise as a hardware company, and then compare them to Nintendo coming off the back of incredible success with the Wii, DS and now the 3DS.

        • Hec4Mets

          Nintendo has billions in the bank right now so no they aren’t going the way of “SEGA” like you claim…

  • http://www.facebook.com/Proxynull1222 Brendon Loring

    wii U was dead right after E3 2012. i really wish Nintendo would of waited longer to develop a new console because sales will not increase dramatically once the new consoles start rolling out just because there is no 3rd party support.

    i know this because i am a proud ps3 owner, and it took… maybe about 3-4 years for 3rd party to start taking development seriously because they had to learn about the specs for ps3. for what im hearing, 3rd party developers hate the kits for Wii U because they seemed out of date and doesn’t reach the quality what they want to reach. that’s why you never saw any games for wii, because the hardware was out of date. ps3 did pick back up because the hardware was still fairly new.

    The generation of games for this era still has life but not for long. maybe 2 years until they move on to the next gen exclusively and thats where nintendo will be screwed.

    • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

      My question: what have all their home console studios (that don’t make Zelda games) been doing since late 2010?

      • jcl

        well monolith soft has been developing X.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001081180639 James Plus Rachel

        X, Pikmin, 3d mario, mario kart, luigi dlc for nsmb2 (apparantly the size of a full game), smash bros u, wii fit u, wii u party, and probably more, but then, I’m not the author of this wiiu slating so its not my job to remember this stuff, it’s yours.

    • Truth

      “wii U was dead right after E3 2012″
      it kind of wasn’t out then

    • http://www.facebook.com/jugglaj91 Joe Onley Jr

      Actually, the reason for PS3 drought was primarily due to the fact of how hard it was to code for the system. Even ports of games looked a bit worse for wear on it than the Xbox. Skyrim was/is full of bugs which held up the DLC for over a year. It started picking up once companies figured out how to use the system the way Sony wanted it to be. And now its a tad too late. But Sony learned and made the PS4 (so afar) a much easier system to deal with.

      Nintendo was hoping to get people into developing for Wii U as it was finally able to do what current stuff was. Now that the shift is again ahead of where Nintendo is of course no one wants to develop for it. Technology id about moving forward, but Nintendo is about having fun. If that means staying in yesteryear for a while again I will deal. I would rather have a fun game than the same rehashed crap…oh wait, devs are rehashing crap and porting it to Wii U anyway…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/lancejburns Lance J. Burns

    While the wii u has a slow start, it has a head start on the other next gen consoles in converting userbase and in releasing titles. It will also have a lower price than other consoles, and it seems the neXt-box won’t offer too much competition, so the real thing it will have to worry about are sony customers disenfranchised by the ps3 running solely off the ps2′s legacy.

    • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

      Dreamcast had even more of a head start, and we all saw how that went.

      • Aiddon

        The Dreamcast was also preceded by the failures of the Sega CD, 32x, and the Saturn. Not exactly comparable to the Wii U’s situation where the company who is making it is coming off their most successful run EVER.

        • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

          The last 2-3 years have been Nintendo’s WORST in a long while. They won’t be going out of business anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to keep Wii U from becoming a kind of Dreamcast.

          • Aiddon

            a couple years does not equal an entire generation OR an entire console, let alone THREE (and that’s not even including the Gamegear). Nintendo’s situation isn’t even in the same zip code as Sega’s was fourteen years ago.

            • http://www.facebook.com/dave.vogt.33 Dave Vogt

              Nintendo has the resources to run at full steam w/ losses for… was it fifteen or twenty five years? Then look at their worst selling console, Gamecube. They still thrived. Nobody has Nintendo’s strong exclusives. They’ll be fine, no matter what happens.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lancejburns Lance J. Burns

        Sega lacked the domination of the handheld market that nintendo has, as well as having such a diverse set of first party franchises to fall back on. Financially the wii was a success, while the saturn was much less so. We just saw a similar situation with the 3DS, and it is doing just fine now, once it got its “breakout title” which I tend to regard as Kid Icarus Uprising it smashed the competition. Dreamcast took a good start and headed nowhere, nintendo is taking a bad start and has a significant direction in terms of software. Nintendo’s current trajectory has worked before, while we can see right now where sega is.

  • Tensei

    Software droughts are the most painful thing a console manufacturer can experience so it honestly bewilders me that Nintendo still hasnt rectified this since the gamecube.

    I dont blame Nintendo for their poor relations with third parties because most third parties have revealed themselves to just want to nickel and dime customers. However, up till tomorrow I will question their lack of expansion of development studios especially considering their inexperience with HD development.

    If we look at sony we see they have first and second party studios working on concurrent projects around the world ensuring a steady stream of diverse support.

    It bothers me that Nintendo never sought to fill their Rare shaped hole which bolstered their software slate dramatically.

    Nintendo needs to focus on expanding their core audience. You do this with new software. What is worrying is me is I see them centralising more in Japan, only producing Japanese games like B2, 101 etc. Even though I prefer japanese games, Nintendo themselves have stated the need of software that appeals to the western audience yet they only have one notable western studio to speak of.

    Their strategy is all the over place and untill they back their words with action I hold little hope for them.

    • Aiddon

      Nintendo doesn’t like to buy studios anymore because they dislike their members leaving to form other companies. For example, by the time they sold Rare (who was considered average by that point) barely anyone from the Goldeneye days were around anymore.

      • Erimgard

        They never owned Rare. The founding members (Stamper brothers, I believe) kept a majority share of the stock. They were the ones who made the decision to sell out to Microsoft. And whether or not a lot of the staff was gone, they were still making some pretty quality titles before they sold out.

        • Aiddon

          and thus Nintendo learned their lesson with Rare and have been (rightfully) wary of putting stakes into studios that weren’t formed by Nintendo. Better to just slowly expand their own in-house studios (which they’ve been doing for the past few years) than to buy other companies and trust their staff to stick around.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Ballard/100000492145208 Jason Ballard

    This is unfair to make such a harsh article on this system, when bout every console every made has had these droughts and false promises, so why not talk about them as well then too?

    • http://www.facebook.com/sightbehindclosedeyes86 David Adams

      Because the other systems are last generation systems :-p. That’s why we aren’t discussing them. People already complained about those systems at the points in time that they had those issues happen as well. All systems get bashed at some point. It’s just Nintendos time in the dark light. It’ll pull out of its downward spiral eventually.

    • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

      If I were the person I am now back then, I definitely would have talked about them then too. Right now it’s not particularly useful to, though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Kayube Tom Holmes

    I think what happened here was that Nintendo wanted to show they had a lot of third-party support but they went too far in the other direction by relying on third-party games as system sellers at launch, rather than coming out with anything big of their own other than NSMBU and Nintendo Land. NSMBU suffered from being perceived as too similar to NSMB2 and NSMB Wii (even though there are some differences), and Nintendo Land was good but not a system seller either. So there weren’t any great first-party games, which is what people usually get Nintendo systems for, so people didn’t get the Wii U at launch, which caused the third parties to back off, with nothing for Nintendo to put in its place for a while.

  • Aiddon

    and interestingly, all three of those “promises” have been due to Nintendo having been screwed over by third parties refusing to get product out for the system. Nintendo themselves aren’t to blame as there’s only SO much they can release due to just being one company. Sure, Pikmin 3 and the Wonderfule 101 have been delayed, but we all know that Nintendo is full of perfectionists who (rightfully) refuse to release a buggy, half-baked game. It seems to me that most of the blame should be fired at people like Ubisoft, 2K, EA, etc for basically backstabbing Nintendo.

    • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

      Out of Nintendo’s six first-party (i.e. totally in-house) games announced for the launch window, only TWO were released during that time. That’s 100% on Nintendo.

      • Aiddon

        And if you weren’t aware of Nintendo having a history of delaying games due to polishing them to a mirror shine that’s on YOU.

        • http://twitter.com/IncredibleEwok Chris Hansen

          Then maybe they shouldn’t give a launch timeline for their games. Regardless, that’s still considered a broken promise on Nintendo’s part.

          • Aiddon

            ya mean sometimes people may NOT be able to meet deadlines? Wicked shocker! Seriously, delays and missed released dates happen CONSTANTLY. How many times was Bioshock Infinite delayed? And let’s not even start on Valve. It’s a freaking game missing a release date, not a bill failing to get passed.

            • http://www.facebook.com/BaroqueWolf Adrian Estrada

              You mean Bioshock Infinite getting delayed, like what, twice? That’s no large number.

              • Aiddon

                Five months. That’s not large? Funny how we always make exception for certain people.

                • http://twitter.com/IncredibleEwok Chris Hansen

                  That’s ONE game versus four. Nintendo has a different obligation due to the fact that they need those first party games to sell their console. I’m not saying there isn’t a finger to point at 2K. Don’t let your Nintendo Fanboyism cloud your judgement, think critically.

          • http://www.facebook.com/blake.wigert Blake Wigert

            This reminds me of the “you can never do anything right senario”
            If they release a timeline people are mad when games get delayed
            If you don’t they’re mad for no information on games coming out

    • http://www.facebook.com/blake.wigert Blake Wigert

      Yes, thank you someone with a brain. It is the 3rd parties who gave their word to support Nintendo and now when it comes down to it they’re like “Sorry we can’t support you because the current climate frowns upon those who support Nintendo” I can’t beleive that this prejudice on Nintendo has never happened to any other system. I never hear bad news about “the almighty PS or XBOX” , never. It truely pisses me off when one of the few things in the world that I love are attacked constantly.

      Alright let’s start on this article Promise #1: Nintendo published a few 1st party titles and expected all those 3rd party developers who pledged support, traitorous cowards that they are, to support them. They did not I fact Ubisoft I believe started this drought fiasco. When they pulled exclusivity for Rayman Legends and also pulled the product from the Wii U for multiplatform release NEARLY 7 MONTHS LATER, I noticed after this many developers pulled support or canceled games. The D.I.C.E. convention was my sorce of this knowledge.

      Promise #2: See 3rd parties reneging on their promises

      Promise #3 Third parties promise support and bail need I say more. It’s no wonder Nintendo dislikes 3rd parties look how they’re treated and most of the games we get that are available on “the almight PS and XBOX” are crap compared to them, either graphically, which I don’t give a hoot about, or gameplay wise, which I do care very much for. Why is it so hard to give us Nintendo fans the same game the competiion gets?

      I could go on if I had time to compile my angry thoughts in coherent sentences but I am seeing red now and have been since I realized this Hate Nintendo attitude. My Wii U which I bought myself and the games nearly 1000$ in electronics sits and collects dust because of the traitorous 3rd party developers. So from all the Nintendo fans you’ve scorned let me say I really hope that you learn from this and give us competent 3rd parties, don’t skip out on Nintendo fans and keep your promises for your integrity as a company if nothing else.
      You just might be able to get Nintendo fans on your side if you follow through.

      • http://www.facebook.com/blake.wigert Blake Wigert

        Also as an added topic it sickens me in my opinion that the video game giants basically say get Nintendo for Mario, Zelda, etc but get an Sony or Microsoft system for “real” games. I’m sorry not all of us have money pouring from our pockets.

  • Vitamin E

    I remember when they promised that N64 would be backward compatible with NES and SNES. I feel old now.

  • http://twitter.com/Pdhirst Phil hirst

    And another broken promise could be realised in under 24hrs

    Wii U Direct from the 23rd January 2013

    08:30mins – Iwata says WiiU virtual console to arrive directly after spring system update

    11:15mins – Iwata says the titles released before April will be available before the official WiiU virtual console service starts.

    Which would mean the April VC promo game would be after the Wii U Virtual Console (and its system update prerequisite) is released. Unfortunately as Aprils VC is due tomorrow the Spring System update would have to be today and I haven’t heard anything yet :-(

  • game zen

    Compared to Apple, Nintendo are innocent… 50 games? That’s a lot of games… Are they still £50 each, That’s £2.5k of games… u got all those? might take a while to play them all…

  • Hec4Mets

    Coming from this morning’s PR…

    Based on the strong lineup of
    upcoming software titles for both the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U systems,
    Nintendo expects to return to Operating Income profitability by the end
    of the current fiscal year. During the next several months, Nintendo
    expects to launch new titles in the Mario Kart (Wii U), Super Mario
    Bros. (Wii U), Wii Fit (Wii U), Pikmin (Wii U), The Legend of Zelda (Wii
    U and Nintendo 3DS), Mario & Luigi (Nintendo 3DS) and Pokémon
    (Nintendo 3DS) franchises. These games, along with titles from
    Nintendo’s third-party publishing partners, will help drive hardware
    momentum and introduce new audiences to the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS

    For the skeptics out there this is basically what they did with the 3DS and look how it turned out I’m not in the least bit worried about Nintendo and people are gonna be proven wrong yet again…

  • Lyle Edwards