Ubisoft, the single largest third-party supporter of Nintendo’s forthcoming Wii U console, has confirmed that despite their large and varied launch offering for the machine, they actually don’t have a huge financial investment in developing games for it.
During a recent investor call, Ubisoft head honco Yves Guillemot said “As we’ve always said when there is such an innovation, the need is not to have big production value but to concentrate on the innovation.”
“This is what we are trying on Rayman and ZombiU.” he continued.
Ubisoft currently have nine titles in development for the machine. A cursory glance revealing a primarily conversion heavy slate inclusive of safe, multi-platform blockbusters such as Assassins Creed 3 and Just Dance 4 with only a small handful of exclusive titles for the platform, namely ZombiU and the currently Wii U only, Rayman Legends.
The thought that Ubisoft are spending less on Wii U development immediately brings up two things in my mind regarding what low developmental overheads would entail.
Firstly, the ease of development that the machine supposedly enables, compounded by apparently inexpensive development costs could and will very likely lead to a number of slapdash ports for the machine where the only innovation that the developers can foresee is just how big a map they can fit on the extra screen.
With the ceiling cost for making games for the machine being brought so low, the publisher can easily afford to port contemporary titles from this generation of consoles to Wii U with ease. This is great I guess if you’re trying to appeal to the Wii audience who never had (or have) an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, and somehow found themselves excluded from the multiplatform blockbusters that the Wii U is now keen to embrace.
The reality however is that those Wii U multiplatform offerings will need to meaningfully differentiate themselves from their Sony and Microsoft peers to make people even consider buying them in the first place – especially given the fact that both of those competing current gen hardware offerings will very likely endure price cuts between then and now, making the impetus on developers such as Ubisoft even greater to create some sort of compelling uniqueness with their Wii U conversions.
Secondly, and perhaps more crucially, is the fact that when the next generation of consoles rolls around and the Wii U is unable to properly service similar conversions with these machines based on the technical and middle-ware gulf that would naturally exist, that the low cost of developing for the machine would hopefully empower the publisher to really embrace a number of unique IP’s for the console.
After all, the last thing folks are going to want for their Wii U is poor, hand me down ports of next-gen titles, when the low developmental cost for the machine should enable the publisher to be far less risk-averse and maybe try something just a little bit different that would better play towards the console’s strengths.
What do you think?