‘The Wii U Has No Games’, A Study

‘The Wii U Has No Games’, A Study

Of all the complaints levelled against the Wii U over the years, the most common one is usually “there aren’t any games”. With Nintendo putting out some lifetime release figures overnight, let’s see how that claim actually holds up. Before we begin: In case you need this spelled out, nobody literally means there are no games. Everyone knows there are some games. Some of them are even very good games! But with third parties all but ignoring the system, and Nintendo’s attentions split between the Wii U and 3DS, it doesn’t take a retail manager to note that big releases (or, well, any releases) for the console have been few and far between.

But that’s a gut feeling, and gut feelings can be out. Numbers, on the other hand…

Here are the figures Nintendo released last night, covering almost every single console and handheld the company has ever manufactured (sorry, Virtual Boy, you were left off the list). They tally every single game released on cartridge/disc on these systems in Japan, the US and “Other” (mainly Europe), and divide the number between those published by Nintendo and those released by OEMs (third parties).

Taking a look at these numbers, the NES saw 72 games released in the United States by Nintendo, with a further 590 games coming from third parties. The SNES breakdown was 52/667, the N64 was 53/244, the GameCube had 48/504 and the Wii a staggering 55/1206. In “Other”, which presumably includes Australia and New Zealand, the NES breakdown was 88/263, the SNES was 73/471, the N64 was 55/193, the GameCube was 47/406 and the Wii 64/1203.

Two things jump out at you from those numbers. Firstly, the number of first-party releases was fairly consistent. Second, holy shit, look at those Wii figures.

Now to the Wii U. To date Nintendo has released 39 games in the US, while third parties have released just 118. Under “Other”, Nintendo has released 38 games, and third parties have released 108. While the system isn’t quite done just yet, the few games left in the pipeline (and the NX’s imminent reveal) won’t move those numbers much.

It’s important to note that the Wii U figure doesn’t include games (like indie titles) that were only released digitally. And that some of those earlier third-party figures, especially on the Wii, are inflated due to a mountain of shovelware. So the discrepancy between the company’s last two consoles isn’t quite as immense as it first seems.

In terms of big releases, though, that’s still a big drop-off in support from earlier consoles, especially when you look at the Nintendo numbers (which are normally the biggest/best games on a Nintendo system). And while you can argue that the Wii U has had a pretty short life cycle, you can also argue in chicken-and-egg fashion that the lack of games has played a part in that (and also point out that the GameCube’s lifespan was just as brief).

Aside from that? Feel free to make even more guesses as to what it all means. You could ponder that the Wii U has been a case of quality over quantity, as despite the overall scarcity it still saw classics like Super Mario 3D World, Super Smash Bros., Super Mario Maker, Mario Kart 8 and Pikmin 3. You could also argue that the lack of big, original games in the Zelda and Metroid series left a gaping hole in the system’s catalogue, and that the complete abandonment of major third party titles after the release of the PS4 and Xbox One killed one of the console’s original selling points (remember, the Wii U was originally marketed as being a Nintendo console you could also play games like Assassins’s Creed III and Deus Ex on).

Me, I think I’m going to stick to this: That the Wii U’s dry spells would make me forget I even owned one for months at a time. But when the rains did fall, like re-visiting a sunken Hyrule in HD or enjoying Yoshi’s Wooly World with my kids (and literally playing with their Amiibo, like adorable, immovable action figures), they were still some very good times.


  • Good read.

    What will be the NX’s Rayman Legends moment?

    That game was emblematic of third party distrust and overall brush-off that you can either say was instigated by Nintendo first, or the third parties (ie the major American publisher houses, plus one or two EU giants of the period) first.

    Rayman Legends was due to be a launch game, show-casing confidence and interesting use of the then-untested touchscreen gamepad. It got delayed before the Wii U’s first Christmas, then delayed again so it could release on the other consoles too.

    Ubisoft – all power to them – made a judgement call and Wii U owners had to lump it. There was NOTHING during those early months.

    Fast forward to the launches – practically simultaneously – of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The software droughts during the first few months was celebrated – because of the promise, PR, coverage in the media. Ryse and Knack were pumped up a hell of a lot because of this.

    Nintendo’s simply got to listen to the internet now. Its problems will all be solved then.

    • It’s really hard to say at this point in time because the only game we know is coming is the Zelda game. Other than that I’m not aware of anyone mentioning anything about NX launch titles, or even post-launch titles.

      • Not entirely true. Apart from the almost-certain WB Lego licensed stuff, we’ve had confirmation of Just Dance (Ubisoft), that Sonic thing (Sega) and Dragon Quest as well I think (so Square).

        If US retail (Gamestop, etc) understands what’s in the pipeline, then ancillary organisations, even game news outlets, know. A roadmap to a product launch can’t be kept 100% underwraps these days, but at the same time the big-wigs at EA or Rockstar can’t put the onus on you or me to buy enough NXs just so we *might* get the next Fifa or GTA.

        • Ah, I haven’t been paying attention then because all I knew of was the Zelda game. That’s still a bit of a concerning line up though since only Zelda is NX exclusive and the others are for platforms that already have a well established player base.

          • Yes that would be a concerning line up. But they haven’t even released what the actual console is let alone the games it will be launching with.

  • I bought the Wii U primarily because it had some games I really wanted on Virtual console. Outside of that I’ve only bought 4 Wii U specific games. At times I regret it but then I remember that the VC games are ones I really want to play and I feel justified again. Overall though I agree that the general feeling of “There are no games (I want to play)” is justified.

    • I was tempted to get a Wii U for VC games especially since I think Nintendo finally let you control the DRM via an account rather than associated with the console (which was the case with all the VC titles I lost when I traded in my Wii), but now that the Mini-NES is coming out I don’t really care.

      It seems the biggest games on the Wii U are Splatoon and Mario Maker, neither of which I give the slightest toss about.

      • I was really disapointed with the VC when they never made any GameCube games on there

      • Yes, virtual console and Bayonetta 2 would be the only reasons I’d buy a Wii U.

        But every time I’ve been almost on the verge of buying it, I realise all my time is entirely occupied by PS4 games. I don’t really need to supplement my gaming. My cup runeth over most of the time.

        I’ll get one after it drops in price when NX comes out, I think.

        • The problem with doing that is that is Nintendo games all stay at full-retail price for a f*cking eternity.

          I mean even if you have a PS4 or an Xbone and can see that LOTS of the games are multiplatform, you can still pick up the other a few years down the track and then gorge yourself on all the exclusives that have been available over the life of the console at $30ish each.

          Everything worth owning on the Wii U is still $70+ the vast majority of places, even if it was a launch game. Hell plenty of Wii games are still going for those prices a lot of places! You pick up a cheap WiiU after the price drop and then you’re looking at a massive outlay to catch up.

          Have a look at Starfox on the 3DS. It’s a 5 year old remake of a 20 year old N64 game and Nintendo only recently halved the price to THIRTY BUCKS! That game would have been <$10 on an Xbox or PS Store years ago!

          • Huh. I had not even thought about that.

            Do they have sales on the Wii store? Latest PSN sales have been really, really good.

          • Not really is the short version. They have “sales” but it’s normally one or two titles at a time and you never get anything that ever feels like a genuine bargain.

            Its normally $10 off full retail or something like that (which is almost everything regardless of age). It’s not like the PSN or XBL sales where you can get AAA titles that are 12 months old for $30 and occasionally as low as $10-$15.

          • Last I even saw any copies of SF643D, they were going for $14. Alongside Kid Icarus, which was the same amount. Or possibly even only $9, actually.

          • Were they second hand or on a throw out table?
            Last I checked I thought StarFox had been discontinued in its original version, I’ve wanted a really cheap copy for ages and it’s been hard to find a copy at any price for a long time. It appears they’ve just re-released physical copies under the ‘Nintendo Selects’ range.

            That range includes:
            Yoshi’s Island
            Mario Tennis
            Nintendogs/ cats range

            That’s a shitty list and everything else is pretty much full-retail still. You can get them cheaper from time to time for sure, but it’s not standard practice and it’s certainly not the case on the Nintendo store.

            If you buy a 3DS today at JB Hi-Fi and want (IMO) the 3 best games:
            Super Mario 3D Land – $64 (2011)
            Mario Kart 7 – $69 (2011)
            Zelda: ALBW – $54 (2013)

            That’s near $190-odd for 3 games that should all be sub $30. It makes it pretty pointless picking up a cheap Nintendo near the end of it’s life if the whole back catalogue is still near full-retail.

          • New, marked down at Target from memory. But I don’t see how that makes it any different, all the other consoles’ games are the same case – you wait around for them to be on clearance then pick them up dirt cheap.

            Also your list is wrong, the three best games are RE Revelations, Shinobi and Kid Icarus Uprising 😛
            Ok maybe LWB should be there.

          • Your list is wrong!

            Seriously though, theres a big difference between finding a copy on a throw out table and being able to buy it for that price everyday…. Otherwise I would have bought Starfox years ago!

            I got an email today from Sony. Winter Sale right now. Witcher 3, Batman (last years), SW Battlefront all $30.

            Nintendo just doesn’t do shit like that. They send me an email when they take $10 off a $69, 4 year old game for a week.

          • Well said. Case in point, I bought Dragon Age Inquisition on PS4 today for $20. For the Game of the Year Edition. That game was released in November 2014.

            Mario Kart 7 is on sale (ON SALE) at EB Games for $47, down from regular price of $58. That game was released in December 2011. Woolworths = $48, Target = $59.

            Fucking Nintendo.

    • Whenever I say “The Wii U has no games,” it’s usually clarified by either “… that I can’t play on other systems” or “… that I’m interested in playing.” I’m aware of a great many games for the system – I just have no interest in the vast majority of them. The 2-3 I would play have been released on other platforms, so there’s no reason to invest in a Wii U.

      • It’s great that you do provide context and clarification for your use of that statement, but there’s unfortunately a lot of people who spew that hyperbolic statement as-is.

        I personally got the Wii-U for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and just picked up games as they interested me.

      • That’s my wiiu thing. There are lots of games but none of much interest to myself. So the wiiu has no games for me. Some that do interstate me but not enough that I’d buy a whole system for them.

  • It’s not that it has no good games, it’s that it doesn’t have a game that I’d buy the system outright for and it’s never been able to build enough momentum at any given time (through a string of solid releases and hope for more in the future) to make me buy one.

  • Counting my own collection: 22 from Nintendo (if you count Wonderful 101 and Bayo as theirs), and 12 from third parties. Which is pretty hugely disproportionate compared to other machines I think.

    20/14 for 3DS, wow. Was not expecting that. Even the GameCube set would outdo that.

      • Xenoblade Chronicles X and Bayonetta 2 are pretty much the only two games that had me thinking about buying a Wii U. (Most of the Nintendo first party titles are basically remakes of older Nintendo franchises that I don’t care much about; which may seem an odd thing to say given that the two I care about are both sequels.)

        Now, if you want a console with a truly, awfully horrible release range, look at the *NEW* 3DS. If you discount the SNES virtual consoles, the number of platform exclusives for the New 3DS is…


        That one being Xenoblade Chronicles, which of course was a port of the original Wii game. The N3DS also gives better graphics for some 3DS games. Still, it’s a really shocking statistic. I can understand it (since the New 3DS didn’t sell all that well) but… can you think of any other platforms at all where there is only one “exclusive” – and that exclusive is a port?

        The rest of the New 3DS catalogue is also compatible with the original 3DS.

  • With any console / handheld I own I hang onto, I still have all the consoles I’ve ever owned going back to the NES, so mostly Nintendo but also a several Sony and Microsoft consoles. I would say with any console there are generally only about a dozen or so games I would go back and play every once in a while, for me the WiiU has already satisfied this regardless of how many games have actually been released for it.

    That said, it is nice with a system like the NES or SNES with a fairly large library to discover that hidden little gem you never knew existed, that’s of course less likely to happen with a system like the WiiU down the track.

  • The Wii U’s price has prevented me from buying one. The NX can’t come soon enough for me. Then at last the Wii U will be cleared out at knock-down prices.

  • since the N64, Nintendo consoles have always had either bugger all games or only a handful of decent ones. This is just what I’ve come to expect from Nintendo. Wish they’d give up on console making and just enter the market as a publisher for other consoles and PC. They would absolutely dominate as just a publisher… (maybe keep their handhelds). Confuses me why they don’t really? Maybe some weird Japanese pride thing…

    • They have entire sections of their business devoted to R&D and hardware, Jaoanese companies don’t em to like downsizing or restructuring either and going to software only would involve that kind of restructuring

  • It’s not that it doesn’t have any games, it’s that it only has one type of game. Colourful, family-friendly platformerish games without any real narrative. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that (I wouldn’t dismiss these as “kiddie” games) it simply doesn’t have enough diversity to appeal to the wider gaming audience. What is Nintendo’s answer to The Last of Us, BioShock, or The Witcher?

    Nintendo is the best at what they do, no doubt, but what they do isn’t enough to justify having a single console dedicated to doing only that.

    • What is Nintendo’s answer to The Last of Us, BioShock, or The Witcher?A resounding snore? 😛
      (don’t mind me, couldn’t resist a little fanboying)

      • You mean the Nintendo devs falling asleep because they’d been playing the aforementioned games all night? Ah, I thought so… 🙂

        • Yep, perfect way to shut one’s mind down after a busy day creating quality software, without the risks of sleeping pills 😛

      • Hardly in the same league as the titles I mentioned in tone, maturity or quality.

        (maybe that last one’s a bit subjective)

    • They have 327 versions of Mario it’s all good.
      You don’t buy a Nintendo for compelling plots or adult orientated games. You buy it for quick pick up and plays for the whole family. Then shove it in the corner until the next in thing has faded away. Then pull it back out again.

      • That wasn’t always the case. Plenty of good non-family-focussed games on the N64 for instance.

        The average age of the gaming community if increasing. I don’t know why Nintendo is refusing to cater to this group and continue to aim solely at children and people wanting a child-friendly experience.

        • Well, the average age of the gaming community is increasing… to the point that they have kids, now. Maybe that’s a factor? Dunno.

          • But surely gaming parents don’t want only family-friendly games, right? Surely most of them still game for themselves occasionally?

          • I dunno. I think of it like kitchen appliances. Dad’s all about the grill. He loves to grill. He grills every day, grills all kinds of things on it. The grill has a widely varied history of cooking to its name. But the little tykes popped up, and man do they like toast. You can do toast on a grill too, I guess, but it’s not the best at it, and it interferes with proper meat/vegie/hash brown grillin’. So he gets a toaster for the kids. He’s still using the grill, but there’s a toaster there, too, now. And it pretty much only does toast.

            So it’d be weird to ask, “Hm. When looking at your toaster use, we noticed you don’t toast many steaks…” He’s gonna reply, “That’s what the grill’s for. I didn’t buy the toaster to do steaks, I bought it JUST to do toast.”

  • Every game you mentioned was a sequel, or a spinoff. The Wii U seriously underwhelms. And when I can get an Xbox One or a PS4 for a very similar amount of money, and know that they have a more robust output and lifetime plan, the Wii U just doesn’t appeal.

    If it was $100AUD, it would be worth it, or I’d pay $200 if it came with Mario Kart 8. Yes, I want to play Bayonetta 2 and Super Mario 3D World – but there was a dearth of excitement, of something new for the console. The standout was Splatoon, but the cashgrab with Amiibo killed my excitement for the console.

    Nintendo needs to look at what the competition is doing. Their 3DS is a wonderful handheld console, but smartphone gaming is on the rise to the point that it will kill their bottom line. Pokemon GO is a step in the right direction, but they need to follow that up with more.

    They could leverage their franchises and do more than make decent games on consoles no one is buying. The NX is a chance for them to turn it around again, and again be an innovator.

    • Makes you think, huh? Maybe first party isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when XBone and PS4 have so few but do so much better!

        • Sure!

          …Untless you decide to qualify it with measurable, objective metrics. Like popularity, sales, quantity, company success. Y’know. Things where the WiiU’s also failing to measure up.

          Your ‘subjective better’ is up to you. Good for you! I’m talking about the ‘objective better.’ The one that has measurable qualities to compare.

          • I guess it can also vary greatly by context on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking at a primary gaming system, the XB1 and the PS4 would be a better choice than the Wii U as they have a larger library overall, whereas the Wii U has a smaller library with more exclusives.

            I game mainly on PC, so in my view the Wii U is an excellent complimentary console as a significant amount of non-exclusives on the XB1 and PS4 are on PC too. Even a bunch of first party games are starting to appear on PC too.

            That’s what I meant with better is subjective.

          • That’s what held me off from a new console for quite a while. No exclusives that were really grabbing me and most other games I could get on PC though there have been some horrible PC ports or less DLC on PC.

  • The Wii U has no games. Apart from those it has which we don’t count because agenda.

    • Or you could make it through the second paragraph of the article, then comment… but nah, I guess.

  • I don’t really care about how many games the Wii U has when I’ve poured in so many hundreds of hours into each of a handful, like Splatoon, Smash Bros and Xenoblade X.

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