The Wii U Won't Be Getting Unreal Engine 4

This week at the Game Developers Conference, Epic Games took their usual opportunity to show off the latest developments in their whiz-bang Unreal graphics technology. In addition to the shooty/demonic demos in futuristic/fantasy settings, one of the most touted features of the engine was that it can scale from next-gen consoles like the PlayStation 4 all the way to mobile devices and even web browsers. It raises the question: If the Unreal Engine 4 is so scalable, can it run on Nintendo's still-new Wii U?

The Wii U uses hardware that's more or less as powerful as the current Xbox 360 or PS3. It's certainly still more powerful than your average mobile device. Epic has been unclear about the Wii U's support for UE4 in the past, with Epic co-founder Mark Rein telling Videogamer that Epic doesn't intend to bring the engine to Wii U, but that "if a customer decides they want to port an Unreal Engine 4 game to Wii U, they could."

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 licence. 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.

"Nothing controversial, guys," he jokingly chided.

So, it sounds like for all intents and purposes, the Wii U won't be getting the Unreal Engine 4, and therefore won't get games made using the engine. Coupled with the news from earlier this week that the Wii U won't run EA's new Frostbite 3 engine (which runs Battlefield 4 as well as the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect games), it's looking like Nintendo's console is going to have an increasingly difficult time keeping up with the competition.


    But our goal for Unreal Engine 4 console-wise is next-gen consoles.

    OUCH... well, I guess that solves that for Nintendo, the Wii U simply is not a 'next gen console'...

      He said the comment was a gaffe and that the Wii U could handle UE4, of course the ps4 and 720 will run it better. However it will run it better then 360 or ps3, which is more then enough for the average consumer.

      you want the full UE4? Get a proper PC.

        Still doesn't change the point that Wii U is current gen and not 'next gen'.

          Thats a matter of opinion not fact.

            You bought one didn't you :)

              Off course i did. And its been more then worth it. However people need to realize that console generations have never been decided by power and it certainly has never been decided by one man/company who made a high end games engine, especially considered how bias he is against Nintendo (how many Nintendo games has he made recent? oh yeah none). Generation has been determined by time period. Its what companies believe will sell for the next 5 or more years. This is FACT. Hey if a company thinks that dvd quality graphics will sell this gen against the ps4 and 720, they are more then welcome to invest and find out. If they think that consumers will spend $1000 on a highend PC rig like gaming console, put up the billions of dollars and see.

              Nintendo's Wii U is what they think will sell for the next 5 years which is what makes it Next gen and a direct competitor with the ps4 and 720. You can like it or not but this is fact. Doesnt matter what the fanboys say nor does it matter what bias Rein says. The next generation is and will be Wii U, ps4 and 720.

                Tl dr. Stop getting so defensive. If you enjoy it thats awesome but learn to take some good natured ribbing.

                  Nice this site was so quick to post this article, but its been several days since Rein recanted his statement. Did this site mention the backflip? No. SO why should i not be defensive? I proved time and time again how anti Nintendo this site is. I would take it easy if this site was more impartial as they claimed to be but they are not.

                  Look at IGN. They posted the first comment rein made about the Wii U not being able to handle the UE4 engine but soon after rein did the backflip it immediately posted and article about the said backflip. Thats impartiality. This site? See for yourself. Did they post about mark rein explaining the Wii U can handle the UE4 engine? So now you understand why i am overly critical.

                  Last edited 03/04/13 1:23 pm

                  I think there's a lot more important things to be upset about than that. If your daily concern is kotaku not printing a retraction on what Rein said, you need to reassess your priorities pronto. Fyi he also said phones could handle UE4. What he's saying is it can be majorly scaled back, so it won't look nearly as good on a WiiU or mobile as it will on the other consoles, it'll be like running for instance Xbox SplinterCell against the PS2 version, no comparison. It's able to be run on lower end machines, which is great, but not preferable.

                  Last edited 03/04/13 1:27 pm

                  So you think its ok for this website to only post negative articles only about Nintendo and im supposed to accept that because you do? I dont think so. If you want to, be my guest but dont expect me to do the same. What, you think i have to accept your priorities? Why the f**k should i do that for? You have a very high opinion of yourself if you think you can impose your priorities on me.

                  Yes the UE4 engine is scalable. This was known before his gaffe about the Wii U. However I didnt see you Link an article confirming this (contrary to what is said here), this article itself doesnt make mention of this. It maintained that UE4 is not available to the Wii U. I didnt see you do anything to clear this up at all. You were content to keep with the Anti Nintendo theme of this site and maintain the negativity, Now the only time you did mention it is because of me arguing against your comment. Isnt that convenient, you changed your tune once i stepped in.

                  I dont see this site mentioning the most recent comments from rein. Its not a coincidence this site hasnt posted an article about it. Its like what i said before. This site is Anti Nintendo. Its things like this that add weight to my argument. Nothing you have said changes that.

    Why why why is the only focus of games these day graphics? But I see this as another EA type snub not due to hardware but due to the company not overally friendly with Nintendo. This is in part Nintendo's fault, for being difficult to work with as they have been in the past. But this time they have produced a good soild console that is more then capable of running the UR4 engine(it can on an iphone), and again we have another snob.

    This will come back to hurt these developers more then Nintendo though, as when key AAA 1st party titles get released this year and next, and the console sales goes through the roof. A lot of these companies will be wishing the supported it earlier on. Than I doubt Nintendo is worried at all, all you have to see how much sought after the Wii U can be as soon as games get released, like in the UK with a 125% increase in sales due to Monster Hunter 3. Now add Pikmin 3, Mario, SSB and Zelda and you will see a massive demand for the Wii U. Just look at the sales of the 3ds as soon as games got released.

    So its sounding a bit like the old saying cutting of your nose to spite your face.

    Just my 2c

      While I share this sentiment somewhat, Nintendo did themselves no favours by creating such doubt within the industry in the first place. If the specs of the system were undeniably next-gen, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Problem is, like it not, people like shiny graphics. The first thing an average consumer who pretends to know anything about video games will say is, "the graphics on that are *insert adjective here*", hell even your average gaming pundit will spout that line first most likely. That is the truth. As an industry so tied in with the progression of technology, graphical benchmarks is more or less the standard from one gen to another.

      The other point I'd like to make is, the improvement of technical capabilities does more to games than just graphics (in the strictest sense of shinier/more photorealistic pixels) like lighting and particles and complex AI calculations. So while yes there is a bias towards shinier graphics, as games improve, there needs to be the tech behind it that allows devs to do so.

      Last edited 30/03/13 3:39 pm

      They're a business. If they don't think porting the engine to the Wii U will pay for itself in royalties, then they're not going to focus on it.

      While the engine could probably run on the console, it is unlikely that porting PS4 or next Xbox games would be particularly easy, due to the performance gap. So it isn't clear that those UE4 customers would want to license the Wii U version. It is far more likely that a customer would want to port a PS3 or X360 game, and they have UE3 for that.

      The market for UE4 on the Wii U would most likely consist only of exclusives, and it isn't clear that market is worth it.

        My response is that 10 or so years ago Samsung was considered a low end company, to which they had to strike a deal with Sony to produce there products. Now Samsung is a powerhouse, infact the largest in the world and have now refused to share their much sought after tech with Sony. Sony is now suffering big time in a Audio Visual. Yes this may not relate over to the game industry, all I am really saying is that the Wii U will more likley soar in sales as soon as AAA titles get released, then these companies will be behind the 8 ball. If they sell say 15+ million by next year (just a guess not fact) then that is a potential 15 million customers lost due to bad business moves early on. I feel really they are placing all their eggs in one basket the PS4 which is not released or has any sales or customer now.

        Last edited 30/03/13 4:09 pm

          Fear not, i am sure that when that time comes both E.A. and Epic will make shitty rushed ports of there games on the WiiU and they will make heaps of money and only the consumers will suffer for it.

          Trouble is that the Wii had massive sales but that never translated into massive software sales, especially for third party developers.

          And say what you will about the PS4,it already seems to have more buzz about it than the Wii U has managed to attract at any point either beforeor since rrelease. Even if a lot of that buzz is just for doing what should have been the bleeding obvious (make a powerful console that's easy to develop for? Whodathunkit?!).

            Trouble is that the Wii had massive sales but that never translated into massive software sales, especially for third party developers.

            Evidence? or talking out of your A$$?

            As of 2010 (and i dont thinks would have changed dramatically since then as the generation hit its peak around this time)

            1st place.. Wii has 921 game titles .. which have sold 521.9 MILLION Games WORLDWIDE..
            2nd place ..Xbox 360 has 647 game titles.. which have sold 394.9 MILLION Games WORLDWIDE..
            3rd place.. PS3 has 495 game titles .. which have sold 267 Million Games WORLDWIDE ..


            So it begs the question What are you talking about? Did you actually research?

            ps4 has alot of buzz, as any console launch. But so did the ps3 when it launched. I dont think the buzz has been different if anything. Not sure if your implying the buzz will translate to increased sales, i certainly dont think so. I think the ps4 should perform on par with the ps3 sales. It certainly wont be enough to make the ps4 outsell the Wii U like the Wii did to the 360. Also the Wii U's hype was spread over a longer period. When the Wii U was announced there was alot of buzz. Unfortunately that buzz waned as it took 2 more years before the console released instead of less then a year for both ps4 and 720.

            Sure having high end console graphics would have been nice, however i still feel the gamepad has alot to offer and thats what Nintendo is banking on. If it fails well so be it. Thats the gamble. Motion controls was a gamble and it paid off handsomely. The gamepad has still to prove itself but there is plenty of time for that.

            As for pure GPU power? ps3 and 360 have sold well no doubt but none have been profitable (they spent more on the console then it made them). Sure it gives the fanboys bragging rights but is a no profit console sustainable? I dont think so. Especially with the poor current financials (junk status credit rating) of sony and the massive fight microsoft has against iOS and Android (pc market is shrinking as the tablet markets explode and windows 8 tablets are tanking hard).

              I'm not really sure how those numbers are relevant to a discussion about third party support when they include first party Nintendo-published games. Look at the sales of Wii games...


              The top 5 games there account for about 200 million sales, and they're all Nintendo published. Out of the top 10, 15 (including the top 9) are by Nintendo, 4 are Just Dance games by Ubisoft and 1 is Zumba Fitness by 505. It's a similar story the whole way down the list. It's so cluttered with first party Nintendo games and third party shovelware that there's not really much room for AAA third party games.

              It's pretty simple, really - if there was money to be made there, 3rd party publishers would go after it. They're not shunning Nintendo because they hate making a profit, they're shunning them because those games just don't sell enough on Nintendo platforms to be worth the expense.

                Did you read the comment you made? You said the Wii did not have massive software sales. Read the quote. Read your comment. IF you cant understand what you said thats your problem not mine. Had you said Wii did not have massive software sales for third parties i would have simply answered well none of the AAA third party titles were on the Wii. However you didnt. you made a broad statement - ie Wii's hardware sales didnt translate to massive software sales (, especially third party). Wii's hardware sales DID translate to massive software sales the link i gave proved it. Infact it sold more software then either competitor. Did it sell massive units of software? Yes. You are wrong. Deal with it

                Maybe next time you should be more clear with your comments.
                The original comment you made was wrong. Dont try to backpeddle and reinvent your argument after being found out.

                  Did you actually read the comments above mine that I was responding to, as well as the article itself which were all discussing 3rd party support for the Wii U? Perhaps I should have also made it clear that we were talking about video games and not cantaloupes or feminine hygiene products as well.

                  Some things you should be able to figure out for yourself from context without needing somebody to point them out for you.

                  Last edited 02/04/13 2:45 pm

                  Its not my fault you wrote an incorrect statement as fact. Dont get pissy after you been caught out. Doesnt matter what argument you were discussing either. It doesnt give you the right to make false statements. Like i said had you simply said:

                  "the Wii had massive hardware sales but didnt enjoy massive third party software sales.'

                  things would have been different. But you didnt, you wrote

                  Trouble is that the Wii had massive sales but that never translated into massive software sales, especially for third party developers.

                  Which is false, it implies that not only were third party sales weak, so were Nintendo software sales. Stop making excuses because you were wrong. Context? LOL nice try.

                  Next time write the truth instead of your usual anti Nintendo tirades.

          I tend to agree with mightyjosh here, there seems to be a real attitude from certain section of the games industry against Nintendo, like we get it, Nintendo didn't let you do what you wanted back on the NES, but hey that was a different time.

          It feels like Nintendo are still getting punished for their anti-competitive practices in the 80s.

          EA just make themselves look like dicks, if they wanted to they could easily scale BF4 to the WiiU, especially if it's running on a 360, this has nothing to do with specs and everything to do with business, just look at the stories surrounding Crysis 3 a month back - it was EA which killed any prospect of a Wii U version - not Crytek

          Not sure what Epic's beef is with Nintendo but if they can get Unreal running on an iPod then the WiiU should be a piece of cake, not to mention Ubisoft got Unreal 2.5 to run on the 3DS.

    The only problem with the Wii U is that there's not enough nintendo games out for it yet.

    Once that happens, it will be fine. You want to play mario kart? Donkey Kong? Zelda? You'll have to get a Wii U.

      Not necessarily just Nintendo, but I agree. IM dying for Pikmin 3, that was suppose to be an April launch and there is no info yet. Wonderful 101? Still MIA.. Bayonetta 2? Hopefully get to see that at E3. Luckily there has been a few surprises like MH3U which ive been playing the crap out of and im downloading Lego City right now (cant believe how fun it looks!).

      Im expecting a pretty big E3 from Nintendo this year, its all going to be focused on games now the consoles are out so it had want to be interesting.

        I've been playing mario and dance 4. That's it. None of the other games appeal, or I already own on PC.

        I'm hanging for some more titles. I think it's a nice system though. If they could get it a bit more snappy moving between menus, that would be sweet.

    What's this 'is more or less as powerful as a PS3 and 360'? I thought its been reported everywhere the Wii U is more powerful than both of those consoles. Seriously wtf as that?

      Well it's complicated in terms of graphics and memory yes it is but it's cpu power is less than the 360 and considerably less than the cell in the PS3.

      The primary reasons for this are the Wii-U's cpu "espresso" is clocked at about half of the others and also to provide backwards compatibility with the Wii the Wii-U cpu is an improved version of the Wii's "broadway" cpu which in turn to provide Game-Cube compatability with the Wii is an improved version of the Game-Cube's "Gecko" cpu.

      So basicly to provide backwards compatibility with legacy consoles the WiiU is using tech that dates back to the early 2000's.It would have been better to use a beefy X86 and do software emulation imo and this would also mean much more similar specs to PS4/Xbox3 as well as far greatr performance in general.

      It is.. its handling the graphics of the console, the gamepad, and from the "Rushed" ports its already been able to produce graphics on par (and in some cases) better than current gen games. Given a proper development time on this console, the games could look quite stunning! Not to mention it supports LPCM for uncompressed audio out of the box.

      The CPU is a bit on the weak side, but the GPU is far more powerful and has a lot more memory.

      Nobody has any idea since nobody besides Nintendo (and platinum games it seems) is actually attempting to work out how to use its power. In all respects from what I've read and heard more often than not Wii U is overall about twice as powerful as 360 essentially. the problem comes from the fact that the ps3 is apparently 4 times as powerful as the wii u (again, this is my understanding - i admit that i could quite easily be wrong). The thing is though that the gap between wii u and ps4 is a lot smaller than what the gap between wii and ps3 was and EVERYTHING, including damn UE4, is Scalable now.

    The funny thing is Nintendo are probably the only company that realizes AAA games are inherently doomed to fail from a financial standpoint because of the hundreds of millions of dollars that get sinked into them, to the point where they have to sell an unrealistic number of copies to recup the money.

    If game development and marketing budgets blew out into the hundreds of millions of dollars, I'd absolutely dread to see what the costs will be next generation. This can't go on for long either, game sales have been in decline for the past few years.

      Except it may make things cheaper. One of the key differences between the UE3 and UE4 is an emphasis on reducing the difficulty of creating assets and optimising the workflow. It will be cheaper to create wii U level graphics in UE4 that UE3.

      Well Ironically this guy from Epic said that his awesome new Engine will 'only' double those costs. Now considering that the average ps3/360 game apparently cost $20 million and the AAA games could be anywhere from 3 to 10 times (in the case of SWTOR apparently and a couple other huge games) its going to be interesting to see just how many publishers/developers die this gen...

      @thom It may be supposed to but the tradeoff in extra development time and the cost to achieve the graphics means that its not going to be any cheaper - its going to be a hell of a lot more expensive in reality

      Last edited 30/03/13 7:16 pm

        That's the developers choice now though isn't it? If a company wants to, they could release a wii u level game on the PS4 and it will be cheaper. Nintendo didn't give them a lower spec console because they want to magically reduce dev costs. They did it because they wanted the console to hit a certain price point. If anything, Sony has the right idea of reducing costs by making games easier to port to and from the console.

          While I do agree with you in some respects (the part about Nintendo wanting to hit a certain price point) saying Sony's making games easier to port to and from the console and saving the devs money isn't really true.

          Besides, I really feel that Sony's going to regret playing the same game with the ps4 as they did with the ps3 if they're going to be taking even half of the hit they did with the ps3 - quite simply they don't have the money to do so. It's going to be interesting over the next 2 years either way in seeing what happens with game development costs and sales of games and hardware, for all 3 companies.

            They aren't playing the same game though. The problem with the PS3 was two-fold - it was expensive, and it had a weird architecture that made it expensive to develop for as well. Small market, plus large budget is a big problem. We don't know how much the PS4 will cost yet, but we do know it has a normal PC architecture and most devs are saying its dead easy to optimise for.

      Game sale haven't really dropped the past few years. Games now are more popular then ever before.

        While its true that game sales haven't dropped, indeed sales for a lot of games are far higher than ever. the problem is that sales haven't risen enough to truly justify the rise in the cost of development. If games like dead space 3 and tomb raider sell for $60US at retail the publisher is likely to get about a 3rd of that apparently (that's one of the more conservative proportions I've heard so it's the one I'll go with for this example). Square and EA both said that they need about 5 million sales for the games to be profitable apparently. That means to cover their costs and begin to make a profit they need to make $100 million ($20 by 5 million obviously). Neither managed to hit that and they were both selling to a combined hardware base of nearly 150 million (obviously some people have both but there's still a huge point to be made). That means something like only 2% bought this AAA title. And yet game developers and publishers still think that if better graphics and throwing money at the problem to make better graphics will result in making the new COD or Mario...

    The Wii U is not a next gen console. It is last gen. Nintendo should quit the home console business and stick with portable devices and game publishing

      Why should they? The console is great and I am loving it every bit! And its got a lot of the features from next gen consoles even though its only an enhanced previous gen console. Art direction and presentation can have a tonne more impact on the game than graphics. That's been shown time and time again.

      The Wii U is far more powerful than 360/PS3. It is able to produce 2 images on 2 devices at once, and soon will be able to do it across 3 (2x gamepads and 1x TV). All of this is being done by the console itself, has the PS3 or 360 been able to do this?

      Even putting that aside, the Gamepad in my own opinion, is the best thing since sliced bread! Off TV gameplay and extra touch controls/buttons have been a blessing and cant wait to see more of it.

        The only thing is that nobody from the west is apparently interested in using any of it -_- they'd all much like to focus on huge $100million AAA games in the hopes of winning big....

        Nintendo's never going to leave the console market and they're never going to go 3rd party; why does everyone think they will or should? What they should be doing and likely will I believe over the next 2 years is actually start expanding so they can create more games simultaneously and buying more developer studios/contracting studios for projects and funding other studios projects (i.e. Bayonetta 2)

        i don't think Nintendo has ever been about going up against Sony and Microsoft on a hardware level. They are more into innovation and it looks like it will still beat the PS4 and 360 successor in that regard. I don't own one but games like the new Haunted house one are getting rave reviews so who cares if it doesn't do Unreal 4 tech.

      probably one of the stupidest things i have read on here and i have read some dumb things on here before.

      If Nintendo goes to only developing games they have the the power to destroy either Microsoft or Sony. Both of them have less then a dozen unique IP's between them while Nintendo has a whole library of IP's that quite literally sell consoles.
      Imagine what will happen to Sony if Nintendo made games exclusively for Microsoft, or vice versa. Imagine what will happen to console gaming if Nintendo started marketing their games exclusively for tablets? They don't have the problem of having to develop for multiple consoles for the sole fact that it's their games that sell them, thus they'll be free to pick any one platform.

      Point is, you better hope like all hell Nintendo doesn't withdraw from the console business; if they do, it's going to have a resounding impact on the gaming industry.

      Last edited 30/03/13 8:17 pm

    Not surprised one bit by this one. Epic is pretty biased towards Nintendo and proved that in the Wii generation and Rein's comments towards the company from then. The Wii is far more powerful than the 360/PS3 but its clearly not going to be PS4/720 quality that we know of.

    Wii U could handle the engine, they just have no desire or interest in porting it over..

    I think saying that in the way they did is really unprofessional Wii U can run the Unreal Engine 4 it was the same with EA saying no Crysis 3 on Wii U and they show that it plays on Wii U as good as all the other Console if not better.

      Not only that, you don't laugh at a company like Nintendo. Not so much because one day you may need to put your engine across anyway but like you said its just completely unprofessional - and then the industry tries to turn around and say that they are a mature industry etc etc etc

    This is in no way a surprise. Even the PS4 can't run the full suite of UE4 features having to skip out on the new global lighting tech, the Wii U is hopelessly out gunned in the hardware department.

    What is annoying is that Nintendo went a different path to suit casual gamers and wanted bring innovation to the table, but there are next to no games available that uses there own technology. I am not fuss owning two consoles but how can I buy a Nintendo WiiU when that system is sooo lame: No fun factor that I know off, no great games using the Nintendo innovation (away from Nintendo Land, and that's more a demo than anything) and worst of all not even two or three AAA in Nintendo in house title to promote the console properly. I mean Nintendo need to realize that they are gonna have put much more effort in the WiiU if they want it ever to sale. at the moment I don't even know why its out at all!??

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