The Wii U, much like the Gamecube, has a problem with third-party support. Even so, EA Sports still brought annual iterations of Madden NFL to the little purple box. That’s not happening on the Wii U.
When Madden NFL 25 was announced last week, a Wii U version was missing from the press release. Nintendo World Report started asking questions and got the following response from an EA Sports spokesperson:
“We will not be releasing a Wii U version of Madden NFL in 2013. However, we have a strong partnership with Nintendo and will continue to evaluate opportunities for delivering additional Madden NFL products for Nintendo fans in the future.”
If you have trouble reading corporate speak, EA is essentially saying that the Wii U isn’t selling well enough for it to dedicate resources towards a Wii U version of Madden. If the console starts to pick up in the future, EA Tiburon will start up Wii U development again. Until then, EA is watching and waiting.
Some will undoubtedly take this news as the death knell for the Wii U, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Does Madden skipping the Wii U look bad? It looks incredibly bad, but it’s just as much an EA problem as it is a Nintendo problem. EA Sports just finished with a round of massive lay offs, its CEO stepped down and the publisher is trying to restructure itself to prepare for the next generation of consoles. Any perceived flops would look bad to already anxious investors and a Wii U version of Madden would most definitely be a flop.
That being said, Madden NFL 25 skipping the Wii U may be a sign that other major third-party titles will be skipping the console as well. In the announcement of Call of Duty: Ghosts from yesterday, the Wii U was missing from the title’s list of target platforms. The PS4 and next Xbox will be getting the game, but it looks like Activision will be skipping the Wii U after Black Ops II was kind of a flop at the Wii U’s launch.
Even if EA and Activision pull out, Ubisoft is still supporting the console with all of its major AAA blockbusters. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Watch Dogs will all be making an appearance on Nintendo’s console this year.
With all this in mind, I think it’s safe to say that the Wii U will be much like the Wii and Gamecube before it – a console for Nintendo titles and the odd third-party exclusive. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does ensure that the Wii U will remain a companion console for most gamers as they look to the PS4, next Xbox or PC as their main platform of choice.