Nintendo's Wii U Finally Abandoned by Third-Party Developers

Nintendo's (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY  ) living room video game console, the Wii U, has largely been a flop. Sales fell far short of Nintendo's estimates last fiscal year, and despite the upcoming release of Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. (two of its more popular franchises), it doesn't expect to sell many Wii Us in 2014.

Yet, if there was any hope that the Wii U could recover, it may have finally been put to rest. Although Nintendo plans to continue to develop games for its console, third-party developers, including Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA  ) , have all but abandoned it.

Ubisoft drops its Wii U support
Ubisoft, a major third-party developer, doesn't plan to showcase any games for Nintendo's console at next month's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). By tradition, the trade show is used as a venue to showcase upcoming titles -- if Ubisoft doesn't plan to demonstrate any Wii U games at E3, then it's likely that it doesn't plan to release any new games for the Wii U, at least not in the foreseeable future.

This is a notable blow to Nintendo's console, as Ubisoft has been (until now) among its staunchest supporters. Ubisoft is one of the only major third-party publishers to release a Wii U-exclusive game (Zombie U) -- almost all other third-party publishers that have released games for the system have done so on a cross-platform basis.

Mocking Nintendo's console
Electronic Arts is a far larger company than Ubisoft; unfortunately for Nintendo, it abandoned the Wii U long ago.

Electronic Arts' popular Madden NFL franchise, for example, hasn't seen a Wii U release since 2012. Last year's iteration skipped Nintendo's console, as will the upcoming Madden 15. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, in contrast, will still see releases even though both consoles are nearly a decade old.

Neglecting to port its popular games to the Wii U is one thing, but Electronic Arts has gone so far as to mock the console, actively taking to social media to poke fun at Nintendo's machine in a series of tweets that the company later apologized for.

Electronic Arts may be just one publisher, but it is a massive one. Interestingly, its decision not to support Sega's Dreamcast (the Japanese gaming giant's last console before its decision to exit the hardware business) is widely regarded as instrumental to the console's failure.

A box for Nintendo games
With little third-party support, Nintendo's Wii U is rapidly becoming a box good for nothing other than playing Nintendo-made games. Admittedly, Nintendo's in-house game developers are top-notch (Mario Galaxy was recently named the best game of the last generation by IGN) but limited in their output.

Gamers receive a few quality titles a year, and the most popular games may not make their way to the console at all. Third-party publishers are responsible for most of the best-selling video game franchises, including Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and the aforementioned Madden.

At $300, that makes the Wii U a hard sell for all but the most die-hard Nintendo fans. Already surpassed in total sales by the seven-month-old PlayStation 4, it seems it won't be long until Nintendo's ill-fated console is overtaken by the Xbox One, making it the worst-selling console of the current generation, and if trends hold, Nintendo's worst-selling console of all time.

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Read/Post Comments (15) | Recommend This Article (10)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 27, 2014, at 7:52 PM, targeyone wrote:

    "Guys, quick, Mario Kart 8 is about to come out, write an article saying something bad about Nintendo!!"

  • Report this Comment On May 27, 2014, at 8:03 PM, Manaphy2007 wrote:

    why does Fools hate nintendo with a passion? 3rd parties are not dropping support, some and doing what they can and rest a bit before making more for wii u. second wii u is not expensive, why buy a $500 console (x-bone) when you can buy wii u and save $200 and use those $200 on games and accessories. so what if MK8 is running at 59fps? you wont even notice 1 frame drop. 3rd, nintendo will never go 3rd party and/or make full-fledged games on android/ios, you would think it will bring sales to wii u and 3ds but in reality it will kill nintendo rather than help, people would wonder why buy a nintendo console when you can buy them for the other consoles and android/ios. Fools, stop being so ignorant, stupid and stop hating nintendo with a passion and get your facts right, if not then you guys should get your site permanently shut-down

  • Report this Comment On May 27, 2014, at 8:04 PM, RadicalEdward11 wrote:

    All this is sonysoft privilege.

  • Report this Comment On May 27, 2014, at 8:21 PM, awang0718 wrote:

    @targeyone

    That is exactly what The Motley Fool does. They own Microsoft stock, and they intendo to see Nintendo fail as hard as possible so M$ stock will not be negaitvely affected, should Nintendo perform well.

    BTW Nintendo "projects" to sell 3.6 million Wii U's this year. That is certainly a very low estimate, low enough for Nintendo to potentially outperform, which looks good in the minds of shareholders.

  • Report this Comment On May 27, 2014, at 9:04 PM, RadicalEdward11 wrote:

    This is SonySoft Privilege.

  • Report this Comment On May 27, 2014, at 9:30 PM, Robarino wrote:

    @awang0718.

    So is this the first Motley Fool article you've ever read??

    Last week Motley Fool was posting articles calling the Xbox a total failure and calling for it to get spun off from Microsoft. Not to mention the numerous negative articles they posted about Windows and Desktop PC's dying and everyone switching to tablets. Does any of that sound like they own Microsoft stock?

    And just to be fair, they've also written articles calling for the immediate destruction of Sony because Sony is in the financial toilet. Does that sound like they own Sony stock?

    You fool. This is Motley Fool and only fools believe anything they write.

  • Report this Comment On May 27, 2014, at 10:58 PM, AvidPro wrote:

    Sam Mathera, what can be said about this type of journalism besides the urge to get a quick read.

    As the majority of these articles, I can't seem to get past how these writers will say just about anything to get a quick hit. I guess this site is called fool.com for a reason.

    Why not wait til e3 before bashing on the Wii U Sam!

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 2:15 AM, andfisher wrote:

    So you can now flat out lie in the title of an article. What a wonderful place the Internet is. Thank you clickbait revenue!

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 4:51 AM, slysilver wrote:

    in all honesty Nintendo doesn't really need 3rd party support... Between Pokemon, Zelda, Mario and the whole collection of other games made by Nintendo they don't need it. And Nintendo could loose money for a long time and still be worth more than Sony or Microsoft. Everyone seems to forget that they have the 3DS too... which is killing Sony's joke of a handheld and making a LOT of their money right now.

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 7:35 AM, onebluephish wrote:

    This information regarding Ubisoft is nothing new-let alone, anything worthy of writing another article over. I think what comes out of E3 next week should let it speak for itself and the cards fall where they may. While reading MF's Nintendo bashing is getting old I am wondering what the outcome will be if Nintendo fails a second year in a row to reach market demand.

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 9:59 AM, BHGamer wrote:

    @Slysilver. Nintendo's portable division has been making the money for the company for MANY years, it's was sustained the company through the N64/Gamecube years when those systems failed their projected sales. The Wii made up a lot of that money, but now the Wii-U is gobbling up any stockpile they had and the company is now again relying on the portable market to sustain it.

    As far as 3rd parties abandoning the Wii-U, my argument would be that it never had good 3rd party support to begin with, it was spotty at best, and 3rd party developers were starting to jump ship before the Wii-U. Regardless, it puts Nintendo in a bad spot. They have a system that's over priced, under powered by now this generations standards, and not supported except by first party. I'd buy one to play Mario Kart and maybe a couple other games if the price was $150 or lower.

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 10:00 AM, suckadickmotley wrote:

    They should just re-name this site Motley troll. Sam Mattera's journalism skills are equivalent to a 2nd grade book report gone wrong.

    Were the people who run this site were molested by Nintendo employees during an E3 convention when they were younger?

    I hope all you all get AIDS!

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 10:25 AM, mikeybruises wrote:

    @Sam Mattera. The Wii U just outsold the PS4 in Japan. Now go report on that.

    3DS LL – 18,374 (18,350)

    PS Vita – 14,070 (12,810)

    *Wii U* – 9,024 (6,716)*

    PlayStation 3 – 7,565 (7,339)

    *PlayStation 4* – 7,543 (6,792)

    3DS – 4,850 (5,250)

    PSP – 1,479 (1,642)

    PS Vita TV – 1,142 (1,055)

    Xbox 360 – 202 (201)

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 10:37 AM, anash91 wrote:

    Hmm.... well the Fool seems to ignore the fact that there are plenty of games on the Wii U eshop which they would see if they didn't focus on promoting Sony and Microsoft forever. I don't even see why they promote those, since they both lose money... Isn't the point on investing to gain money and wealth, not to lose money just to compete with other companies?

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 7:38 PM, targeyone wrote:

    @Robarino

    The difference is, Motley Fool also sees regular articles praising Sony and Microsoft as well, in somewhat of a balance.

    When it comes to Nintendo, however, it is only ever negative.

    Compare headlines:

    Xbox/Microsoft:

    "Xbox One Price Cut Appears to Be Working"

    "China Just Dealt a Temporary Blow to Microsoft's Windows 8"

    "3 Reasons Microsoft Corporation's New Surface Pro Is a Winner"

    "The Dow Holds Steady as Microsoft Slides, Boeing Soars"

    PS4/Sony:

    "Sony Has Offically Entered China’s Gaming Market"

    "‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ Isn’t Sticking, Is it Time to Short Sony Stock?"

    "Sony Spinning Off TV Business in Bid to Return to Profitability"

    "Why Did Sony’s PS3 Just Outsell the PS4 in Japan?"

    Wii U/Nintendo:

    "Nintendo's Handheld Dominance Is Challenged by This Emerging Trend"

    "Nintendo's Wii U Finally Abandoned by Third-Party Developers"

    "Is One of the Wii U's Biggest Supporters About to Ditch the Console?:

    "It Looks Like Nintendo Has Given Up on the Wii U"

    The biggest caveat is, almost every headline dealing with Nintendo is as wildly speculative and baseless as it is negative.

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