Monday, July 8, 2013

Wanted More ZombiU? Well...

Much like the shambling undead in its reboot, the concept of ZombiU as a continuing series has been put down for the foreseeable future.  It's not difficult to find a case where Wii U games sell quite poorly and in fact might just be the exact opposite scenario that's hard to make a case of, so the likes of Ubisoft coming out and stating disappointment in the sales of ZombiU isn't too surprising.  It's worrying all the same, but it's certainly not a surprising thing.  One has to wonder if even Nintendo's titles are selling to expectations considering the Wii U still isn't in nearly as many households as they'd like it to be in by this point in time.  Like in previous console situations, that seems to be the 'draw' to the Wii U, but in a more overwhelming sense, and it's continued to cause quite an unfortunate reaction with the sales of everything else on it.

The way the CEO of Ubisoft talks, it sounds like they may be just about ready to pull out much as EA have already done and this is something that Nintendo would want to desperately avoid.  As much as the Wii apparently -could- survive solely on first-party releases, it's become apparent that the Wii U cannot and it's at the feet of Nintendo to make their console appetizing to bring consumers and developers alike to it and they're just not doing that.  The lackluster sales of ZombiU, for example, confirmed what several people thought at the time of the announcement that Rayman Legends went multi-platform and was delayed for that - it was purely because of the under-performance and it'll keep happening to everything that Nintendo doesn't outright buy.

Specifically, I could predict a scenario where Bayonetta 2 -could- become multi-platform as well.  Before you say, "But Mogs, Nintendo is funding it so it can't!" I can tell you that I have not forgotten that bit of information.  However, unless I'm mistaken, Nintendo has only invested in the project - everything of and related to Bayonetta as an IP is still in the hands of Platinum which means it's theirs to do with what they want.  If a scenario comes up where the numbers show buying out Nintendo's investment and then porting the game would make it profitable, you can bet your ass Platinum might give that idea a thought.  It's a hard scenario to imagine considering porting costs are substantial and Nintendo's investment likely is as well, but if Bayonetta 2 just isn't on track to sell even Bayonetta 1 numbers on the Wii U, it has to be an option.  Developers and Publishers cannot just afford to take that loss sitting down.

If I had to give a little thought as to what the issue with sales for the Wii U is, well, it's a two-pronged thing.  The reason that I think the Wii U isn't selling as a console is simply that Nintendo simply haven't presented it as a thing that you need yet.  All you, a potential customer, know about it without some digging is that it's another Nintendo product and has a tablet for a controller that seems to imply a singular experience.  I bet there are still people who think the tablet controller is still a peripheral for the Wii considering how heavy the Wii was with those and only used them for two or three games here or there.  It's hard to find somebody who honestly knows it has a fully realized network for multiplayer with any game that could ask for it that isn't completely ass-backwards to sign up for.  It's hard to find somebody who knows what the hell Miiverse is.  It's probably hard to find people who know that you can download games onto your Wii U just like the consoles today and the consoles of tomorrow.

My opinion on why software doesn't sell to those who have actually bought a Wii U is because of those issues, but in a more direct sense.  Nintendo has barely made an effort to make the Wii U a unified system, to bring all these things they added to it together in one thing that simply -works-.  Nintendo cultivated two different groups of people with the Wii - people who bought it for the casual experiences, and people who bought it for the Nintendo first-party games - and overlap was the exception, not the rule.  There were very few people who owned another console and yet considered their Wii their primary one.  That in itself is not damning, since your first-party efforts were enough to bring them in, but you have to make it easier for people to turn to the Wii as a primary console and that means cultivating people open to all experiences, including third-party ones which, in turn, bring the third-parties around.

The most egregious example of this type of thing, I think, is the Nintendo Network.  Nintendo made it specifically for the Wii U and designed it to cater to the third-parties who have made Multi-player gaming a thing when it was, by and large, not exactly present in Wii games.  Then, like most things Nintendo makes, they proceeded to not use it at all for gaming.  Two different instances of a multi-player Mario game have been announced since the console was released and neither of them (the more recent one not even scheduled to release until the end of this year or the start of next) even allow for the option of online multi-player.  When you ask Nintendo, they state that it comes from a mindset that wants to ensure couch co-op persists, but guess what?  You can do that while also bringing in online multi as well.  If you don't offer an online component to any of your games, the ones that showcase your console the best, why is anyone going to want to throw in a third-party game and try it out for that?  You just have to give people a little push, you don't have to force it like some people have tried.

But, hey, maybe I'm wrong.

Update!:  I kind of wanted to clarify things a little bit last night, but I couldn't because of storms and it was too much of a pain to try and edit from my Vita.  So I took to my Twitter to try and get the point across that I feel like I muddied up a little.  So allow me to sort of take what I said on Twitter and add more words.

First-party titles are the games that your customers buy your console for and, as such, they should be used as a way to showcase your console like a third-party game simply cannot by virtue of being designed with other machines in mind.  They're the games you're going to bundle -with- your console, meaning they are likely going to be the games that consumers have the first experience with your console with.  Nintendo isn't doing that to the fullest extent with the Wii U by ignoring the Nintendo Network, especially when it comes to a game that would be perfect for it - the first Mario multi-player focused game that was a launch title.  You have to make your customers see how smooth an experience it is (of course, you have to -make- it smooth) so that they go "Oh well, it's good for other games too".  Especially if it's your honest first attempt at a proper network infrastructure like the NN is.  If you don't show the console as a cohesive sum of its parts nobody's going to get excited for the real possibilities so much as they're just going to be excited about the next Mario/Zelda/Smash Bros. game as they have been, which, as shown, isn't exactly the best position for Nintendo to be in despite the obvious.

I will continue to say with everything that no online MP, even secondary, for Super Mario 3D World is a dumb idea

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