It’s been no secret that one of the biggest issues facing the success of the Nintendo Wii U is the waning support of the platform by third-party publishers. With each new title or franchise installment coming to Xbox 360 or PS3, the question is immediately raised of whether Nintendo’s console will receive a version. Now one series can be taken off the list of potential releases, as Ubisoft has made the decision to no longer bring Assassin’s Creedgames to the Wii U.
The official confirmation will come as no surprise to those owners of the Wii U who have likely already noticed the lack of support for Assassin’s Creed Rogue on their platform, but it’s a telling sign for a number of reasons. In its earliest days, the French publisher distinguished itself as one of the clearest supporters of experimental hardware, whether it be the Wii U’s GamePad or Microsoft’s Kinect.
Speaking with GameInformer, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot explained that the publisher’s decision to end the Assassin’s Creed and Wii U relationship wasn’t made because of the Wii U’s lagging numbers; the company has made it clear they’re out to serve their fans as much as possible. Instead, the publisher isn’t bringing the action series to the platform because there simply isn’t demand for it:
“It’s very simple… Nintendo customers don’t buy Assassin’s Creed. Last year, we sold in very small numbers.
“What we see is that they are very interested in Just Dance, very interested by other kinds of games… So what we are trying to do is to focus more on the types of games they are interested in…. [Watch Dogs] is coming to Wii U. It will be the only mature game we publish on it.”
Besides making the company’s decision seem like a rational one, Guillemot’s explanation reveals several problematic truths about Nintendo’s competitor to the Xbox 360 and PS3. The sales of the Wii U have increased thanks to some top-quality titles recently (but are still not high enough for Ubisoft to start releasing games for the platform they have admitted to have ready), but in the eyes of their most outspoken supporter among publishers, their audience is a markedly different one than the competition.
That isn’t to say that the Wii U’s cornered market on social or motion gaming is all bad, but Guillemot’s statements should prove sobering to Wii U owners craving ‘mature’ titles and experiences. According to the ones who make profits off of such titles, it seems those Wii U owners are a minority. At this point, the Wii U accounts for around 3% of Ubisoft’s total sales, meaning even Ubisoft games crafted specifically for the platform are but a sliver of the publisher’s overall profits.
More than anything, Guillemot’s statement that Watch Dogs will be the “only” mature game released for the Wii U seems to make the company’s view of the console quite clear. The brief window of time the Wii U would have before next-gen consoles rendered it obsolete for third-party publishers was always a concern, and if Ubisoft has conceded that even the previous-gen Rogue isn’t in the platform’s wheelhouse, Nintendo had better have a plan.
What do you make of the confirmation? Does it come as a surprise to hear the Wii U’s biggest third-party supporter claim it’s not a platform for titles like AC, or have you accepted that as fact already?
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.