When the Wii U made its debut at E3 2011, Nintendo brought along one of those loud montage trailers that shows off all the different games that are in the works for the system. On that list was a smorgasbord of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games like Ninja Gaiden 3, Batman: Arkham City, and Darksiders II, all of which weren’t running on Wii U technology at the time, but have indeed ended up on the new console. There were even games that haven’t come out at all, like Aliens: Colonial Marines and Metro: Last Light, in the reel. One of those games may not make the trip to Wii U after all. Metro: Last Light developer 4A Games is not very enthusiastic about Nintendo’s machine.
“We had an early look at [Wii U], we thought we could probably do it, but in terms of impact we would make on the overall quality of the game—potentially to its detriment—we just figured it wasn’t worth pursuing at this time,” said 4A Games’ Huw Beynon to Now Gamer, “It’s something we might return to. I really couldn’t make any promises, though.”
The company’s chief technology officer Oles Shishkovtsov was a bit more blunt: “Wii U has a horrible, slow CPU.”
Beynon does admit that 4A Games’ team doesn’t quite have the manpower to try and fit its game onto Nintendo’s machine and have it run as well as it could. “[Just] developing for the PlayStation 3 is a significant addition,” said the developer. 4A Games recently abandoned plans to develop multiplayer modes in Metro: Last Light as well, citing the important of the single-player campaign and the need to devote its limited resources to that.
The Wii U is having some growing pains when it comes to cross-platform development. Games like Mass Effect 3 perform noticeably worse on Wii U than on Xbox 360, a console that’s seven years the Wii U’s senior.
Does Wii U need the more powerful CPU to be a great console? Not at all. Computing horsepower doesn’t make great games. In 2012, though, games need to be available on as many platforms as possible for publishers to get a return on their investment, and Nintendo will be at risk if it isn’t easy to scale back many games for next-gen machines to its less powerful platform. The Wii U’s architecture may well keep third-party publishers away from Nintendo yet again.