Ubisoft, once a stalwart supporter of Nintendo's Wii U, is holding off on releasing an unannounced new title for the console until there are more of them in people's homes, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot told Polygon this week.
Watch Dogs, Guillemot said, is still coming to the Wii U this November, but Ubisoft is being much more careful with new projects.
"We did adapt the number of products to the level of quantities that the machine did," he said. "So we will have Just Dance again which is well suited for the machine. We'll have Watch Dogs. We have another couple of products that we are waiting to launch, specifically we have one game that we wait for the machine to be more mass market to launch."
Guillemot declined to say how many Wii U would have to sell to make releasing the games worthwhile.
"We don't have a number," he said. "We need the sales to increase so it becomes more and more mass market then we will have the volume that will justify massive marketing and TV marketing."
Does he think that day will ever come, I asked.
"I hope so," he said. "We have a game that has been done for six months. It's on the shelf, waiting for more families to have the console."
The decision to freeze completed games, especially coming from Ubisoft, is a stark reminder of the position Nintendo finds itself in this year. It was Ubisoft that has been for years Nintendo's third-party champion. They supported the release of the Wii and its motion controls with Red Steel. When MotionPlus was released, Red Steel 2 came out to support that technology. And the release of Wii U came at the same time as one of the console's better third-party titles: Ubisoft's ZombiU.
But ZombiU didn't sell as well as Ubisoft had hoped, in part because of the low console sales numbers. That franchise now appears to be dead in the water, even for other platforms.
"I think it was so adapted to the Wii U so (bringing it to another platform) would be difficult to do," he said. "Maybe it will come to other platforms, but not as a full game. It was really developed for that type of machine."
Despite how low sales of the Wii U have seemingly impacted Ubisoft, Guillemot remains at least slightly upbeat about the possibility that the Wii U could turn around.
"Nintendo is really coming up with fantastic games," he said. "They could, with the right price and very good games, help the machine start selling."
What if, we asked, the Wii U never hits that point.
"It could never come out," he said. "It could come out on another format... "
So how long is Ubisoft willing to wait, is this the last year the Wii U has to prove itself?
"I think we have to wait for Smash Bros. to come," he said. "Smash Bros has always been a big, big property for Nintendo and for gamers. And we all know that there are lots of Nintendo fans that are waiting for big games to come. We know they are coming. We don't know if they will still be there. I think when I speak with the fans that come to E3 90 percent of them are crazy Nintendo fans. They really love Nintendo and the games they do."
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