The third year in a console’s life is usually a jubilant one. By now the console will be well established, with a user base large enough to attract studios large and small, not to mention having a sizeable enough market share for publishers to take a gamble by releasing niche titles.
This isn’t quite the case with the Wii U however. As the console enters its third year on sale, third-party publishers have all but deserted. They’ll no doubt return towards the end of 2015 – even the humble Wii saw a slew of new software this winter, after several quiet months – but we can expect bare minimum support from the remaining Wii U publishers. By definition of which, 2015’s iterations of Skylanders and Disney Infinity, Just Dance 2016 from Ubisoft and whatever LEGO titles Warner Bros. has planned. LEGO Jurassic World, if LEGO Batman 3’s ending is anything to go by.
As for SEGA, who knows? The company as a whole is a mystery these days. The fact that the 16-bit Sonic games are still to be released on Wii U Virtual Console would suggest they have a colossal retro collection planned. After the commercial failure of Sonic Boom, this would be a low risk and low cost prospect to help make up losses. As you’ve no doubt gathered, we’re speculating here.
We’ll probably see a few movie and cartoon tie-ins from Little Orbit too, who have been quick to both spot and fill a gap within the children’s market.
As disheartening as this lack of support sounds, there’s a very good reason not to worry. Nintendo hasn’t sat back and twiddled thumbs while the release schedule thins. They’ve hunkered down to ready enough titles to support the Wii U single-handedly.
Delays notwithstanding this year will see seven major releases, in addition to smaller titles such Mario vs. Donkey Kong, Mario Party 10, Art Academy and Devil’s Third.
After a drawn out spell in development limbo – and an almost disastrous E3 showing – we do fear the worst for Devil’s Third. If anybody can turn a project with such a rough history around though, it’s Nintendo.