Yesterday, it was revealed that Electronic Arts—arguably one of the biggest game publishers in the industry—has nothing in the pipeline for Nintendo’s console, the Wii U. According to a post on Kotaku, EA spokesperson Jeff Brown confirmed that the publisher is focusing elsewhere, saying, “we have no games in development for the Wii U currently.”
Earlier this month, it was reported that EA wouldn’t be releasing a new Madden game on the Wii U. A Eurogamer post also confirmed that EA’s done making FIFA games for the Wii U as well. Said a spokesperson:
“Ten months ago FIFA 13 was a launch title on Wii U. Although the game featured FIFA‘s award-winning HD gameplay and innovative new ways to play, the commercial results were disappointing. We have decided not to develop FIFA 14 on Wii U.”
Combined with this morning’s decidedly lackluster Nintendo Direct broadcast, it’s not been a good 24 hours for Wii U owners. Simply put, if Nintendo doesn’t wow us at E3, it’s going to be a pretty dark year.
EA gets a lot of consumer hate these days for its corporate practices. Microtransactions, botched launches of always-online games, being a big company that does things in a world where people live—it doesn’t matter what the company does, it’s going to get some hate by virtue of its existence.
That said, EA is one of the biggest video game publishers for a reason: it makes huge games that are—usually—very good, very desirable, and sell plenty of units. So whether you like it or not, chances are you’ve bought an EA-published game in the last few months, and chances are, it’s a game you were both looking forward to, and probably really enjoyed.
If EA doesn’t support the Wii U this soon after its launch, that spells big trouble for Nintendo’s console. By this point in the Wii’s lifecycle, it was an unquestionable success at retail, whether the third party games were any good or not.
This kind of doom-saying, of course, is speculative on my part, and should be taken with a grain of salt. By the same standard, by this point in the 3DS’s lifecycle, critics were calling the portable console dead, a mistake, and decided that Nintendo was finished. Then the company lowered the price, released a bunch of top-flight, first-party games, and turned the entire thing around. Now the 3DS is the best-selling handheld on the market, enjoys a healthy output of third-party games, and is hailed as yet another in a string of successful hardware launches for Nintendo.
The industry is pretty unpredictable. E3 is right around the corner, and we know that Nintendo has big games waiting to be unveiled. Will it be enough to right this ship? Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll have to wait and see.