Nintendo: Wii U launch games delayed to ensure steady releases in 2013

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Major hints about the company’s plans for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS continue to roll out of Nintendo Japan in the wake of the company’s portentous earnings report last week. In the latest investor question and answer session, released in English on Monday, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata shed light on the company’s plans for the Nintendo Wii U. Those hoping to get their hands on a steady stream of Nintendo developed and published titles like New Super Mario Bros. U and Pikmin 3 following the console’s release will have to be patient, but that patience will be rewarded.

When asked about how Nintendo plans to build market buzz around its new console, particularly with what games it will release strategically to create hype for the console, Iwata said that Nintendo will take a conservative approach to releasing new Wii U games.

“[We] realize the biggest challenge is to make sure that Wii U sells well even in the next year after the holiday season, and we are working on that too,” said Iwata, “Nintendo tends to release too many titles at the launch of a hardware system and as a result suffers a drop in new games for quite some time after launch, and for the Wii U launch, we are being careful not to let it happen.”

“Fortunately, third-party publishers overseas are launching many titles for us this time, and we were able to push back the release of some of the titles that we had originally intended to release as launch titles until next year.”

Nintendo’s plan for Wii U then is to carefully meter out first-party releases, instead letting third-party games like Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and Assassin’s Creed 3 carry the burden of keeping players stocked in new games. Previously announced titles like Pikmin 3 will be kept in reserve so Nintendo has a steady supply of games into next year.

Contrary to Iwata’s statements, Nintendo has always been conservative with its launch line-ups, reaching all the way back to the Super Nintnedo. That console, the Nintendo 64, the Nintendo DS, Gamecube, Nintendo 3DS, and even Nintendo Wii all released with just two or three original Nintendo-made titles in the line up. Iwata is correct in saying that Nintendo has been slow to follow those launches with new first-party software, though, an issue it has aggressively addressed with the Nintendo 3DS. Last fall, for example, Nintendo released both Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land within one month of each other, rare for tent pole releases.

That Nintendo is holding back near-complete titles for Wii U, allowing for even more polish on those games, in order to create a steadier stream of releases is a positive sign of growth for the company.

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