Thought Experiment: A Console Without First-Person Shooters

Western gamers love first-person shooters, but imagine a game console that didn't have any. Imagine one with no Call of Duty and no Battlefield. No Metro Last Light. No Wolfenstein. No big new FPS from Bungie. No big FPS from Respawn. No Killzone. No Halo. No Counter-Strike. No BioShock. No Borderlands.

This shouldn't be that hard to imagine. It's nearly reality.

There's an HD console out now with dual analogue sticks on its controller and not one of the aforementioned first-person shooters on the horizon. It's the Nintendo console. The Wii U.

I'm not here to beat up on the Wii U for its lack of first-person shooters. There's been enough hammering of the Wii U for its lack of games. I could just as easily note its lack of role-playing games, its lack of Star Wars games or its lack of figure-skating simulators. The Wii U is a young console. It doesn't have a lot of games. I'm not freaking out about that. It's only half a year old and this is how things tend to go.


Imagine an HD console in the West without new first-person shooters. Going forward, Sniper Elite V2 notwithstanding, that could be the Wii U.

When this fall's Call of Duty: Ghosts was announced last week, Activision didn't mention a Wii U version, suggesting they may skip the console (they aren't clarifying). That's not normal, despite what you may think of Nintendo machines and Nintendo gamers. You may not have thought of Nintendo's Wii as a big Call of Duty console, but it did get Treyarch-made CoD games. There were other first-person shooters on the system. See The Conduit. See Nintendo's own Metroid Prime 3.

The Wii U even got last year's Call of Duty Black Ops II as well as Ubisoft's original first-person survival game ZombiU.

But Battlefield 4, this year's big EA shooter is skipping Wii U. That's confirmed. The Wii U missed this spring's critically-acclaimed BioShock Infinite and there's no sign of Wii U being in the plans for upcoming games like Bungie's Destiny.

What's a console without a major first-person shooter on the horizon? Some might say it's screwed. But I wonder... shooters do tend to blot out so many other games. The absence of them could bring something else to the fore: the sense that the console is at least a shade less, for lack of a better word, violent.

Oh, the Wii U will have plenty of "action" games. That's a euphemism for saying it'll still have plenty of games with plenty of killing. It'll have the cartoony killings of Mario and Zelda games and the more realistic stuff seen in the likes of open-world third-person semi-shooter Watch Dogs. The Wii U will also have this, a Deus Ex: Human Revolution port with lots of first-person shooting.

A ha! You will be able to still look down the barrel of the gun and pretend to kill bad guys! Take that, advocates for Wii U gun control. Technically, though, it's a role-playing game.

So, is this a thing or not?

It's a possibility. It's a possibility that a gaming console that can render vivid HD game worlds might miss a popular if possibly strip-mined genre that happens to be the one most vilified by both the opponents of violent video games and the game-loving champions of indie innovation.

If the Wii U goes FPS-less, it's not going to be because of some inspired mission statement about What Gaming Needs.

It's a possibility that, unless we find out in a month that Nintendo's Retro Studios is making another Metroid Prime or that CoD: Ghosts comes to Wii U after all, Q4 of 2013 will arrive without a big new FPS on Wii U.

It's a possibility, but it's not a shock. And it's not like Nintendo is actively blocking first-person shooters from its console. A lot of this is happenstance or business, not really a matter of taste or standards. Nintendo, the company most likely to make the most interesting Wii U games each year going forward, doesn't specialise in first-person shooters. Ubisoft, the third-party publisher seemingly most interested in bringing games to Wii U mostly does so without having a killer FPS franchise.

Companies that do make a lot of first-person shooters, including EA and Activision and Take Two, seem to have limited and possibly even diminishing enthusiasm for the Wii U. If the Wii U goes FPS-less, it's not going to be because of some inspired mission statement about What Gaming Needs. Let's be clear: it's not much of a leap to go from a few FPSes to none.

Soon we may get a chance to know what that looks like and plays like. Would innovation thrive on a console without first-person shooters? Would the people who play it seem different? Happier? Gentler? Would a different kind of multiplayer game have a chance of dominating the console's online service? Or would success bring the FPS to the console, inexorably, inevitably?

There is, of course, a big asterisk. The FPS is to other consoles what the Mario Kart, Mario Bros. and Zelda are to Nintendo consoles. An FPS-less Nintendo console isn't exactly a platform clear of genre juggernauts.

Let's think about it anyway. Can you have a console without any new first-person shooters? Would you want one? It's a thought experiment, but it also might soon be a reality.


    Genre doesn't matter if the game is good.

    you can easily have a console or two that doesnt have any first person shooters, in fact it wasnt until the Playstation and Saturn that we started to see FPSes on a console. Before then FPS's were only on PC/Macs. It wasnt until the Xbox that previous PC only developers like bethesda and epic started to move to consoles

      What about zero tolerance on mega drive? I loved that game

    I don't want a console without shooters. I want a console with a good variety. I want FPS, RPG, RTS, Adventure, Platformer, Racing, Puzzle, and all the other genres I've forgotten or haven't been invented yet.

    GameCube? Metroid Prime is technically a FPS but that's about all the console had.

      Did you own a Gamecube? I still own several GCN FPS titles.

      It also had 2 COD. 3 medal of honours. Several James Bond games. Turok. Time splitters 2. 3 tom clancy games. Serious sam. Plus others.

    It missed Bioshock Infinite because it had already been in development long before the Wii U was announced. And as we know, Nintendo doesn't really like paying off Western devs to port games to their consoles, especially one like Bioshock which is known for heading into risky territory.
    And I doubt Ghosts will skip Wii U. If so, I will be very shocked as Activision was one of the only third party devs that continued to support the Wii through it's whole life just about.

    Wii U still has Call Of Duty - it got Black Ops 2. Not that anybody seemed too interested.

    Errrr ...?
    The Wii U has Black Ops 2

    If you want to see a current console that doesn't have a FPS you'd want to look at the 3DS and last I saw it was doing pretty well without them

    I have already lived this - my Atari 7800 had NO fps games... none!
    And Atari are doing just fi... oh wait, bad example!

      Narp! It had Battlezone!!!

        Did they ever do Battlezone for the 7800? I thought it was only on the 2600...

          Oops! My bad! lol. Well, it had Super Huey anyhow lol. A stretch, but still... heh.

          Last edited 08/05/13 2:48 pm

            Loved Super Huey - but it was a flight sim! Same as Tomcat. Both awesome, but no FPS.

    A console without shooters would be fine by me. IF that were the actual objective, and not just an unfortunate consequence of no-one liking your hardware. ...Which is what's happening here. WiiU is not Next Gen. It's barely current-gen, in a time when the current-gen is old and about to be superceded. This really is just an exercise in trying to find the silver lining in the tech-progress tornado which has not entirely destroyed the platform, but has left it standing in a barren, gameless wasteland.

    I can't really stand shooters on the console anyway. Not when I have the vastly more precise mouse and keyboard handy on my far-more-powerful PC. Halo gets a pass only because I love the story (shut up! Cortana and Master Chief 4 eva). Dust and Destiny aren't getting my dollars unless they move to PC. I'm not holding my breath - just holding my wallet closed.

    FPS are better on a PC anyway

      Tell that to the awesome Goldeneye on N64.

        I cannot comment on Goldeneye for N64 as I've never owned a N64 so I've never played Goldeneye for N64 but when you compare CoD and BF (as an example), PCs are better for FPS games. Using a mouse and keyboard has been proven to be the best to use for or with a FPS, until you have to start flying a jet.

          That's just two games. It depends if the game is made for a console or if the game is made for a PC, if the game is specifically tailored towards a console or pc etc. This is an argument as old as gaming itself. Consoles for instance have better movement, PC's have better aiming. Consoles have analogue movement, PC's have mouse aiming (not quite analogue, far superior than that). Keyboard isn't better than a control pad when it comes to movement as such but it is great when it comes to keybinding etc. But when you're playing COD you only really have six or seven keys you actually use, so no big worry.

          Plus, who the hell in their right mind plays BF3 on a console :O thats sacrilege!

            Just two games as examples only (they were mentioned in the article too). YEs you are quite right that it's an argument as old as FPS themselves but in today's market. I don't think there will be any new FPS that aren't Console and PC.

              Unfortunately true. I long for the day a first person shooter is designed ONLY for PC. That's when you'll see something truly innovative again.

          PC's are hopeless for local multiplayer, its not like you can get 3 other friends around your computer desk to play 4 player splitscreen whilst drinking alcohol at the same time

      Yep, there are two genres of games that IMO suck on consoles, one of them in FPS and the other is RTS.

      The dual analogue control sticks of consoles just don't offer the precision of keyboard/mouse. The only FPS games that have actually worked on consoles IMO are the Metroid Prime series, largely because they DIDN'T focus on a dual analogue control scheme but used something different.

    I can't play shooters on consoles, those analog sticks will be the death of me, so I stick to PC (so you can imagine my devastation when I learnt there was no plan to release Red Dead Redemption on PC) But I still think its silly to cut out an entire genre of games. As mentioned above, the genre isn't what make it a good game. I've always refused to play FPS as I found them boring (having only really been exposed to games like COD and Battlefield). Then I discovered Bioshock, and it was beautiful, and I fell in love.

    That aside, this is the reason I haven't bothered to invest in a Wii U yet, there just aren't enough games to justify that purchase. Unless they decided to release an amazing Wii U exclusive game, I'm not spending my money.

    I do want variety in my games, but looking at what I own currently.. It's mainly First & Third person shooters. Though the third person shooters I'd say aren't strictly shooters, that have RPG elements (Mass Effect 3) and platforming (Tomb Raider). In fact most games I enjoy are usually hybrid genre's. I get bored of the generic corridor shooter, unless there is some sort of skill progression or weapon customization involved. I'm really enjoying Black Ops 2 atm (I've only touched the single player so far) and I'm really liking how different it is to other COD games. I hope future COD games follow the same path. I think I will always enjoy some FPS action and it's a huge genre, so I dont see any console going without it (by choice that is).

    The Wii U has so much potential to innovate with FPS's. Take Black Ops 2, in the Strike Force missions, u can take control of various drones. This could have been handled by the Wii U gamepad, while on the TV ur soldier could be prone behind cover and u will have to keep an eye on him to make sure he isnt attacked. I dont have a Wii U, but havent heard of such a feature on the game with it.

    Last edited 08/05/13 3:54 pm

      I will continue to buy nintendo consoles as long as they challenge developers, even if they only end up with in-house games and shovelware.
      No, I haven't encountered that feature yet (although I didn't buy BLOPS2) but ZombieU does a fantastic job of making those moments when you have to focus on your tablet very tense.
      I recently lost an experienced survivor after I went to search a corpse and a zombie I thought was dead stood up and ganked me.
      Until devs are willing to, or have the oportunity to in case of indie devs, really experiment and lead the way with new hardware, it will be seen as too much of a risk, exspecially after the debacles of Kinect and PS Move.

      I think this is mostly what Warren Spector's massive dummy-spit was about earlier. The fact that 'no-one' is making big budget games that aren't a shooter of some sort. That video games as a medium are an exercise in violence.

      The flip-side to that argument is... well. Let me argue with myself.

      "Games are all generic grizzled white dude with a gun! We get gravel-voiced theatre-trailer guy and realistic equals brown! We view life down the barrel of a gun. It's boring and games should be better than this!"

      "Yeah, but that's what people are making now."

      "They're only making those because that's all that people BUY."

      "That's all that people BUY because so many experimental games which break the mold suck balls. Make some fucking good games outside the grizzled guy with a gun stereotypes and non-connoisseurs will buy them. See The Walking Dead, or Monaco, or Plants vs Zombies, or Journey. But don't expect to get a prize for just turning up. It has to be fun to play. Anna Anthropy might have more meaningful to say in five minutes of her game than the entire industry has had to say in the last five years, but if the game isn't fun to play or looks like arse, I'm not going to give a shit."

      "If you want the industry to improve, you have to take a chance on these things! You vote with your wallet!"

      "Who says I want the industry to improve? I'm buying it, I'm happy. I'm voting for fun, not betterment. If the industry improves without me financing your failures, that's a bonus, but I'm not going to subsidize intellectual or creative developer masturbation just because your heart was in the right place."

      "Then how are we supposed to pioneer a paradigm shift in gamer awareness?"

      "Who the fuck in history has ever led you to believe that pioneering would be easy?"

      Last edited 08/05/13 5:21 pm

    A console without first person shooters would most likely be a commercial failure. As other posters have pointed out it's about variety - consumers want to have a choice.

    Look at Windows Phone - one of the reasons the platform has struggled is because of the lack of apps. Lack of apps lead to poor user adoption, which in turn makes developers less likely to support the platform because the return on investment is lower - it becomes a vicious circle. We're starting to see this happen with the Wii U now as well.

    The WiiU Zapper, aka the Gamepad stuck to a plastic gun with a thumbstick/ancillary buttons, would provide TV-free FPS gaming with incredibly accuracy, realistic turning speeds, and the most intuitive gameplay experience the genre has ever seen. If Nintendo announces a 15 buck piece of plastic, and Treyarch has CoD lined up for it this year (assuming they take the Nintendo porting role as usual), it will revolutionise the genre more than the wiimote did (and really, the Wiimote flogs DA into a cocked hat for accuracy/speed/lack of dependence on aim assit).

    The gamepad already has a reinforced bolt-hole on the back for the peripheral, and the newly released panorama view shows off the accuracy of the gyro tracking. This is so happening, and i can't wait!

    Nintendo is in an interesting position where it can add so much value to multi-platform games through things like variety of controller support and specialisations, that it's easy to see the definitive versions of games being on the system without it having to compete in terms of technical prowess (something consoles just can't do against the PC).

      The wii zapper is a toy. It's like a light gun, a fun distraction, but it's never going to take over traditional controllers.

    I don't buy a nintendo console for shooters anyway. I buy them for the fun platformers and adventure games that just don't get that much spotlight on the main consoles.

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