Ubisoft Is Sitting On Unreleased Wii U Games

Ubisoft Is Sitting On Unreleased Wii U Games

It's bad enough when you hear that companies aren't making games because the Wii U is struggling to find an audience. What's even worse? Hearing that completed games are for Nintendo's latest home console being held back because of poor sales.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot says that's just what the company is doing, in an interview with Polygon. (On Spike's E3 webcast earlier tonight, Guillemot confirmed that there is a family-friendly Wii U exclusive that's in development.) The thinking appears to be that, even at least one such Wii U game has been completed, the hardware doesn't have a big enough user base to justify the money that they'd spend on marketing:

"We have another couple of products that we are waiting to launch, specifically we have one game that we wait for the machine to be more mass market to launch."

"We don't have a number. We need the sales to increase so it becomes more and more mass market then we will have the volume that will justify massive marketing and TV marketing."

Anybody who's tracked Ubisoft's relationship with the Wii U will remember this philosophy being part of the reason that Rayman Origins went from being a Wii U exclusive to a multiplatform release. As for ZombiU, one of the publisher's better received Wii U-only titles, any future for the hybrid zombie game seems to be dim:

"I think it was so adapted to the Wii U so (bringing it to another platform) would be difficult to do. Maybe it will come to other platforms, but not as a full game. It was really developed for that type of machine."

Ubisoft has released a version of Watch Dogs for the Wii U, as has said that Just Dance 2015 will be hitting the console as well. Those are both multiplatform games, though, and porting hem to another system is different than making a new title for just one console. It seems like Ubisoft's Wii U releases will follow this trend — multiplatform rather than exclusive — for the forseeable future. Indeed, if/when this fozen exclusive ever comes out, it might be a sign of renewed confidence in the Wii U by Ubisoft.


    Ubisoft: People buy games to use consoles!
    Gamers: People buy consoles to play games!

    This mindset creates a huge divide. Nobody develops for Wii U because no one owns a Wii U. No one owns a Wii U because nobody develops for Wii U. Just release the damn games, and then people will buy the Wii U to play those games.

    Last edited 10/06/14 6:25 pm

      That's kinda bullshit. It's not ubisofts job to sell wiiu's it's Nintendos and obviously Nintendo are refusing to play ball financially with them.

      If some one came to you asking for 100 bucks with the promise of getting 50 dollars back would you do it?

        I will hunt you down until you give me back the other 50.

        I'm a bit angry at Ubisoft for this at the moment so my comment might be a bit all-over-the-place, but:

        That's a generalized bad investment decision, not really specific to videogames. The thing about games is that you don't know how well they will sell until you start selling them.

        To modify your example: You spend $100 on developing a videogame. Nintendo pays you $50 for the license to sell your game on the Wii U exclusively. The quality of your game will determine whether or not you will make enough money to cover the rest of the development cost.
        You can choose to take a loan and spend $500 on marketing and brainwash people into thinking your C-grade game is a AAA-grade game, or you can choose to not risk the loan (if the loan fails, it will put you $450 in debt) and remain with $50. From here, you can either not release the game and never make any more money on it, or you can release the game and see how people react to the game.

        As another commenter below says: Ubisoft can simply not spend so much on marketing and just release the game. While it's not Ubisoft's job to sell consoles, it's impossible to sell consoles if there's no games to play on the console.

          You might not know for certain, but predicting sales is part of the job of a publisher. They know how many consoles have been sold, and they know how many games have been sold in various genres to date. If the games they have waiting are sequels to their existing franchises, then that data is probably a good indication of future sales.

          I agree that it is hard to predict sales for a launch console, and I think Ubisoft put out a pretty good selection of titles for the Wii U launch. But it would be foolish to ignore the data gathered from that experiment.

          "The thing about games is that you don't know how well they will sell until you start selling them."

          The thing is Ubisoft has been selling games for how long now? 3 decades? (I really don't know).

          Look, Ubisoft know their business, Sure they're not the biggest publisher, but they've generally got their shit together. Far Cry, Assassins Creed, Just Dance, Rayman - all strong franchises, all good games (in their own right).

          Ubisoft decided to develop a game based on a projected amount of sales. Ubisoft probably did their part right. They probably planned and executed their game well. We can be confident in this given their recent past track record.

          But they KNOW that having a good game isn't good enough. They KNOW that they need to release to a high install base, or all that hard work creating the game will have gone to waste.

          They WILL release the game(s), it's just a matter of when, how (digital only, cross platform), and how much more money they'll pour into the investment.

      The alternative, market the game without spending a colossal shit-ton of money? You don't need sky high billboards and coverage on every corner of the internet especially considering that people are actively looking for new games to play, all you need to do is inject it into the market and there will be rabid fans there waiting. You are feeding the proverbial hungry masses.

        Overhyping and overmarketing games is the most common mistake recent games are making, so I'd definitely be happy if Ubisoft just released whatever Wii U games they have finished. No fuss or in-your-face marketing, just sales.

          I dunno, I've been a Nintendo fan for a long time and one of the most common consistent complaints I've had with them over the years is that they never advertise properly outside of Japan and survive almost exclusively on word of mouth between fans (who all stopped talking during the Wii generation). They're pretty much a stealth console.
          For instance the GameCube had great games, not just kids games, yet for it's entire life it was known as a wasteland of a console with nothing aimed at people over 10. They had Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes, Eternal Darkness, Metroid Prime and a million Resident Evil games, yet they never got that message across.
          Even with the Wii U I thought it was just a more powerful Wii with a gimmicky controller for ages because Nintendo are just terrible at marketing. Seriously, it's a giant DS not a waggle box 2. It fixes 90% of complaints hardcore Nintendo fans had with the Wii. Meanwhile they seem to go out of their way to ensure that all their advertising focuses on Wii remotes... even though the Wii U doesn't even come with one. I thought they'd figured it out how to talk to the general public with the Wii but in retrospect the console sold itself.
          You can argue plenty of games are over hyped, but when it comes to stuff released on Nintendo consoles you've got to speak up on marketing or you'll go completely under the radar.

        Thing is, they have a certain sunk cost, a certain number of sales they need to make to absorb that cost, and a certain amount of marketing required to achieve that level of sales. Remember that something like 80-90% of a game's sales come in the month after release.

        They could release their titles now, with no marketing, and make some particular profit/loss overall. They could release with marketing, and after marketing expenses make even less (or possibly slightly more, but not enough to make a profit.) Or they can wait longer for the market to grow a bit and release it when they *know* sales will be higher, and make more (or lose less).

        It's unlikely that a single third-party game will drive Wii U sales enough to make a difference. Historically speaking, VERY few third party titles on the Wii or Wii U have sold well, and the only one to drive sales in any meaningful way was probably ZombiU - which was an Ubisoft title. It seems Ubisoft don't think the held-back title is going to drive sales in that fashion; the Monster Hunter games of this world are pretty rare.

        Ubisoft's primary responsibility is to their shareholders. It's not their job to drive console sales. There's a good chance that the title will come out eventually anyway, so gamers probably won't lose out except by having to wait for a title.

        Having to wait for a title is a terrible, terrible thing but sometimes we have to wear it. Just think of the starving children in Africa who have to wait even longer for their games!

      People buy third party games on Nintendo consoles? I'm considering buying a Wii U, and I'll only be buying Nintendo titles.

        Once you've played any LEGO game on Wii U, you can't play them on any other console. The gamepad is brilliant and is why Sony and MS are bringing in second screen stuff of their own.
        Likewise playing local multiplayer without splitscreen thanks to the extra screen on the gamepad means I prefer playing many types of games on Wii U and not just the exclusives. Selecting characters, equipment, giving orders, having a map, dual screen multiplayer and off-tv play all make the gamepad great. Oh, and it is a touch screen as well and has good gyroscope controls, so if you are desperate.
        Plus the Wii U has great digital only and virtual console titles, all of which make it more than just a way to play Nintendo games.

          The second screen was the exact reason I sold my wiiU. Just hated the whole look down, look up etc. Don't get me wrong that Old Spice commercial is hilarious but not how I want to play video games. Even playing Pokemon on my ds felt odd to me with a second screen right there.

          And then I downloaded Secret of Mana and couldn't play it on the damn game pad. I had to buy wiimotes and pro controllers, which switched off after 5 mins of play even with multiple store swaps and battery swaps. That was the final straw. Sold it. Will get a wiiU again if a true console pokemon game comes out. It baffles me that they haven't done this for wiiU.

    Yeah, agreed. If the game in question is actually GOOD, word will get around. Besides which, all of this crap about "no one owns a WIiU..." At the moment (at a year and a half old) it's sold about twice as much as the PSVita, and about a third as much as the GameCube in its entire life. It's not a disaster. It's early days. I reckon sooner or later people are going to start picking these things up (probably when it gets a big fat price cut) and then you'll have your audience Yves.

      Yes, some word will get around, but not enough.

      The games industry runs on hype. Hype is the fuel for the industry. Take a look at game price drops. Why is Darkness 2 sold for $4? Because everyone already owns a copy? No. Because people are drawn to the latest and greatest releases - because they've been influenced by the hype train and feel that those games have value. Does Black Ops 2 become a worse game once it becomes 12 months old? Nope. But it's sure as heck a lot less popular. Hype train.

    This is actually somewhat encouraging. It means Ubisoft has some faith in the Wii U significantly improving it's install base. If they thought the console was beyond repair they'd release the game as an eShop exclusive to recover as much of the loss as possible without investing in printing physical copies or major advertising, but they know that if Mario Kart 8 sells a million Wii U consoles in June they're better off delaying a game that could have launched in March for a June/July release.
    They know games get most of their sales during the first month when the marketing and hype are peaking so releasing now won't net them as much as releasing near Smash Bros when a ton of people are either playing brand new Wii Us or dusting off their old ones. Let Mario Kart 8 build a more appealing install base, then strike when Smash Bros is released to try and get your game caught up in the frenzy Nintendo will make.

    I mean it's all frustrating business crap but it makes a certain sense. They know their game isn't a system seller so they're waiting for Nintendo to step in and widen the install base with some of those dependable first-party system sellers Nintendo is so good at producing.

      "This is actually somewhat encouraging. It means Ubisoft has some faith in the Wii U significantly improving it's install base. "

      Some faith - yep, not necessarily a lot of faith - they certainly don't appear overly enthused.

      Ubisoft are just expressing the known weaknesses with Wii U. There's no real indication that they view a significant change likely to occur. They're just not bitching and crying about the low install base, and are prepared to wait and see what happens.

      Can Nintendo recover the Wii U? Stranger things have happened. Nintendo do have an incredible track record, and a huge fan base. They ought to be able to have a successful console, so it would be logical to maintain hope. We can all have hope, just not that much of it.

    its likely shovelware and they are trying to tap into the silly soccer mum market - like the Wii - but the Wii U doesn't yet have that fanbase. I hope they never release it.

    I took my Wii U and MK8 to a mate's place the other night and his wife could not get her head around the fact u can't play MK8 on the Wii (that they already had). It took me a solid 15mins to explain to her it's a whole new console, like her husband's ps4 is to his old ps3... She's no dumbarse by any stretch but she just didn't get it until I explained it all to her in great detail. That's the problem unfortunately.

    Here's the thing I guess - the WiiU is selling in GameCube quantities. Back in the GameCube days that wasn't enough of an install base (witness the Capcom 5) these days with the cost of things it's abysmal

    It also starts this horrible feedback loop - system doesn't get games because publishers are holding back so it end up that no-one buys a WiiU without having another gaming machine so the big releases feel confident to skip them, look at Wolfenstein, Tomb Raider, Far Cry (3 & 4) the WiiU is a superior kit to 360 and PS3 but it's more cost effective for devs to hit all other systems because even though someone has a WiiU the also have a PS4 or a gaming PC

    I don't know the answer but I feel Nintendo needs to change tack on how they deal with third parties which gas been their a achillies heel and Yamauchi's only major failure

    It's the same old crap from everyone... you can't sell a console without games. That's not Ubisofts fault. Look at the Bone and the piss poor. Microsoft and Sony didn't just throw reskinned last gen consoles out the door with a (barely) Handfull of shitty titles. They had a great lineup to start with that got people and developers interested in the systems.

    If you want to blame anyone for the WiiU being the red headed step child then blame Nintendo.

    Last edited 26/06/14 10:19 am

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