Opinion: Why Third Party Praise Means Nothing If The Games Don’t Sell

Flattery will get you everywhere, or so they say. This seems to be the ethos of several game developers who’ve been bombarding Nintendo with chocolate and flowers in recent weeks as the Wii U launch grows ever closer.

Why are they doing this? To get in their good books most likely but also to help them convince the public that this new console is the real deal. After all if people don’t buy the console, how are they going to buy the games?

Take Michel Ancel for example, creator of Rayman and key figure behind the upcoming Rayman Legends, he’s been out in force recently, sent by Ubisoft to be interviewed by several news outlets and each time he has nothing but praise for the Wii U and the new GamePad.

Here he is telling Nintendo Power all about how amazing the GamePad is:

“I think this is where Nintendo is really out in front of things. The technology inside the controller is quite a bit more advanced than what people might think. It’s really responsive The response time is crazy, in fact, and I think the competitors will need some time to [get their solutions] this responsive.”

And the console itself? Quite easy to develop for according to Ancel, no doubt while his minions back at Ubisoft Montpellier are crying their eyes out over how difficult the last few levels are becoming…

“I think the console is quite powerful. Surprisingly powerful. And there’s a lot of memory. You can really have huge textures, and it’s crazy because sometimes the graphic artist – we built our textures in very high-dentition. They could be used in a movie. Then we compress them, but sometimes they forget to do the compression and it still works! [Laughs] So yeah, it’s quite powerful. It’s hard sometimes when you’re one of the first developers because it’s up to you to come up with solutions to certain problems. But the core elements of the console are surprisingly powerful.”

It isn’t just Ancel doing the rounds though, Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed developer Steve Lycett of Sumo Digital has also spoken of his surprise at just how good the Wii U is. Speaking to ONM he had this to say:

“There are always surprises and unexpected challenges when you develop on a new console. When we first got our hands on the kit, the first surprise was the capability of the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). We’d been worried that we might need to re-engineer all the effects and shaders in the game, but they worked just fine.”

“The Wii U looks as good as any of the HD platforms. The Wii U has way more memory, so we can take advantage of that with less compression on elements and textures, so it will look all lovely and shiny.”

Activision have a good few games coming to the Wii U as well, most notably Skylanders Giants and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and they certainly haven’t missed the opportunity to throw adulation at Nintendo either with CEO Eric Hirshberg, who attended the Wii U Press Conference in New York, calling the Wii U “the most capable Nintendo platform ever, especially for the kind of games we make,” before going on to add, “we’ve never been able to achieve this level of realism before on a Nintendo platform.”

And it’s not just the developers of new games banging the pro-Nintendo drum recently as the team behind the Wii U version of Mass Effect 3, Straight Right, have also had nothing but admiration for the new console with founder Tim Crago telling VG247:

“From a pure technology perspective, and maybe this speaks volumes to the power of the Wii U, working on Mass Effect 3 has been very manageable. It’s been a good experience for us.”

Just look at all these admirers! Nintendo certainly are the most popular boy in the playground right now and it seems everyone is after their approval with copious amounts of positive rhetoric which at times gets so nauseating games journalists are beginning to carry sick bags around with them just in case.

Of course praise is nice, who doesn’t enjoy basking in the complements of others, but of course you have to look at this from a business standpoint as well. These developers have really got behind the Wii U, something they should be praised for, but what happens should the console not sell particularly well and henceforth stopping people from buying those crucial third party titles?

All of a sudden all this flattery might start to dry up – along with the game releases.

Of course we know Sony and Microsoft are both looking to reveal what they have in store for consumers with their new consoles and no doubt the very same developers who are now supporting the Wii U like there’s no tomorrow will also be singing the praises of the innovations the other two big names have in store. That’s fair enough though, they’re third party developers and they’re out to make great games for whatever console they think they can get the most from.

Right now the flavour of the month is the Wii U, but Nintendo really shouldn’t rest on its laurels here and expect this support to stay so strong forever. They’ll need to keep developers sweet by giving them a good platform to create games for and ultimately offer them sales lucrative enough to make their hard work worthwhile.

On the same token however, everyone shouldn’t start panicking like a claustrophobic arachnophobe in a lift full of spiders if these same developers start gratifying the other boys in the playground. Competition is a good thing, and although other consoles will have their exclusives from third party developers, Nintendo will also get their fair share too.

Here’s hoping third party developers get some good success out of Nintendo’s new console and we can start getting more exclusive content, like we’re seeing with Rayman Legends and Bayonetta 2, as well as multi-format games such as Call of Duty Black Ops: 2 and Assassin’s Creed III.

[Quote sources: CNN, Nintendo EverythingOfficial Nintendo Magazine; VG247]

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