Wii U is in a tough situation, stuck as it is between two console generations.
This particular affliction certainly didn't hurt its predecessor the Wii any, mind you, with scores of people who wouldn't have normally thought to try out a games console flocking to the machine despite its lack of horsepower compared to its peers. Nintendo has struggled to replicate this success with Wii U, however, with high-profile third-party publishers such as Bethesda abandoning the console and its guaranteed hits such as Smash Bros, Mario Kart and a new Zelda game still being a while off yet.
Speaking with Forbes, though, Nintendo of America's EVP of sales and marketing Scott Moffitt remained confident in the machine's prospects.
"We have strong relationships with third parties and have a strong lineup of upcoming games from key partners such as Ubisoft, Disney, Sega and Warner Bros, among others," he says. He does, however, admit that the Wii U's relatively small install base needs to grow in order to show developers and publishers that it's worthwhile putting games out on the Nintendo console. He believes the upcoming holiday season will have a crucial part to play in getting more Wii U systems in more living rooms. "We're confident that we have the games necessary -- both first- and third-party -- to have a strong holiday season and expand the audience for Wii U."
Some argue that Nintendo's first-party efforts are strong enough to carry the platform on their own -- perhaps not to make it a big success, but at least to keep it afloat for a few years before the big N either goes truly "next-gen" or focuses exclusively on its more successful handheld systems. Moffitt doesn't agree.
"We want Wii U to be the console that every developer wants to publish on," he says. "A key way to make that happen is to grow the installed base of Wii U owners, and we know that current Wii U owners are very happy with their purchases. Our great lineup in the second half of the year will create more buyers, and beyond that third-party support is important to attract as diverse an audience as possible."
It sounds like a bit of a vicious cycle, though -- the Wii U needs a greater audience in order to attract third-party developers, but third-party developers are reluctant to come to the console because of its small audience, though Moffitt is keen to point to Wii U-exclusive experiences that simply don't exist on rival platforms.
"In Pikmin 3, you have what might be the only real-time simulation strategy game," he says, stretching the definition of "only" a little. "Similarly, The Wonderful 101 defies simple description. At a time when some people clamor for new intellectual properties, these could be viewed as new forms of gaming."
A lot is riding on this coming holiday season for the flagging platform, then, and with the more expensive, more powerful Xbox One and PlayStation 4 soon to hit the market Nintendo has something of a storm to weather in the coming months and years.
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