The Wii U may boast a fantastic slate of first and second-party exclusives with more on the way, but it doesn't take long for some bright spark to point out the fly in the ointment. The turd in the yorkshire pudding. The lack of third-party support.
It's no secret that publishers large and small are wary of the Wii U to the point of ignoring it outright. The reasons are simple; since the Wii U is less powerful than its competition and its install base far smaller, putting extra work into a rebuilding and optimising multiplatform titles seems like a lot of effort for a potentially lean return. The GamePad is also a unique stumbling block, even if I've previously argued that developer laziness is more of a factor than gimmickry. Following a trickle of launch titles (including the likes of ZombiU, a great game that tanked hard) and the occasional delayed blip on the radar, the well seems to be all but dry.
That's the cause of the problem, but there's a more interesting question to be asked. Just how big a deal is this issue, and is it actually even much of a problem at all?
Make no mistake, it certainly is an issue especially when you look at the smaller downloadable games. The Wii U may be less graphically capable than its rivals, but it's definitely up to running the vast majority of PSN, XBLA and PC downloads that hits the virtual marketplaces each month, yet very few of them ever seem to release day-and-date if ever. Many boutique titles prioritise art style over raw graphical grunt, after all. Nintendo may be making inroads into getting indie developers and boutique studios onto the platform, but they need to work harder to encorage a greater volume of titles like Child Of Light, Cubemen 2, SQUIDS and Valiant Hearts onto the eShop, since these titles provide a console with a depth and breadth of content that compliments big releases and fills up scheduling gaps.
Or in other words, gives us a steady stream of stuff to play in the off-weeks.
Region-locking is also killing potential for a thriving import scene too. Though the PS3 and Vita are still the consoles of choice on this front, I pray that Operation Rainfall is never forced to mobilise in righteous anger again. At least Xenoblade Chronicles X is coming West without a fight.
But when most people talk about the "lack of third-party support," they are of course referring to the Battlefields, the Call Of Duties, the FIFAs, Thieves, Far Cries, Crews and the the rest of the AAA brigade. Many believe that the Wii U is worse off without them, but personally speaking, I'm not convinced in the slightest.
See, this is only a problem if the Wii U is the only console you plan to own this generation. It's priced as a second console -- as cheap as £135 for a basic 8GB Wii U (still in stock, by the way!) -- allowing you to enhance your gaming experience with Nintendo's exclusives alongside your annualised year-on-year shooters and footy games and whatnot. Providing true exclusives, games that you can only find on Wii U, some timeless, some radical, others both, there when you want or need them while offering local multiplayer fun that's still largely absent from the other systems.
But then, if the Wii U is your only console, did you really expect or even want a slew of third-party AAA titles? It's a shame that EA, Ubisoft and the like reneged on their promises, but those who bought a Wii U to forsake all other consoles are probably not looking to play a graphically inferior port of Call Of Duty or Battlefield anyway. They're looking to play Nintendo's quality lineup of hand-crafted time sinks, games that provide both intricate quality and a deceptive amount of replayable quantity, while spending time with their favourite mascots and childhood friends.
Well, those who actually grew up with Ninty consoles, that is. As an fullblooded British Amiga fanatic I have to make do with mediocre ports of The Chaos Engine and Superfrog while crying manfully into my Uridium 2 codesheet.
Where was I? Yes. The point is that the Wii showed us the direction of the Wii U; it's a console that enhances and enriches your gaming life, but doesn't necessarily seek to dominate it. It doesn't replace a PS4, Xbox One or beefy gaming PC, instead it sits beside them ready for your next Smash craving, Bayonetta 2 marathon, Wind Waker weekend or Mario Kart 8 afternoon.
As such, I'm not convinced that our inability to fork over £40-50 for a graphically inferior Wii U port of a triple-A multiplat is much of a problem. Do you? Have your say in the comments!