It just now registered that everything I saw at EA's booth during E3 2013 had nothing to do with Nintendo's Wii U console, not even Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare.
It's a little sad given that Nintendo has been around the gaming scene for so long, but it's also a sign of the company's current struggles in the market. Nintendo didn't have a press event during the show, and now it's facing heavy competition from the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this holiday season.
Is the Wii U possibly suffering the same fate as Sega's Dreamcast console? Nintendo has already publicly noted the lackluster sales, blaming the slow adoption rate on an even slower release schedule of AAA titles from Nintendo and third party publishers, and on the consumers themselves. Apparently customers think the Wii U is just an extension of the Wii console, and not a next generation platform (could be the name, just saying).
When asked about EA's lack of Wii U titles, Charlie Scibetta, Nintendo of America's head of corporate communications, said that the publisher is a great partner, and wants what Nintendo wants: for the install base to grow. Nintendo believes that this will happen thanks to some of the games it plans to release between now, the holiday season, and into early 2014. By then, the Wii U should look more "enticing" to third parties like EA.
"Look, the only thing they can do to fix it is to sell more boxes," said Electronic Arts Labels President Frank Gibeau. "We're a rational company, we go where the audience is. We publish games where we think we can make a great game and hit a big audience, and make money. That's why we're here, that's why we have an industry."
Both Nintendo and EA have acknowledged that the latter publisher has tried to sell games on the Wii U, but Gibeau added that currently it doesn't make financial sense. "The Wii U, we shipped four games," he said. "We shipped Madden, FIFA, Need for Speed and Mass Effect. In fact, the last Need for Speed shipped 60 days ago had a pretty good Metacritic. It was a good game. It wasn't a schlocky port, we actually put extra effort into getting everything to work. And it's just not selling because there's no boxes."
He went on to say that EA hasn't signed off on Nintendo, but for now it is focused on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC. "From our perspective we'll look at the Wii U, we'll continue to observe it. If it becomes a viable platform from an audience standpoint, we'll jump back in," he said.