Nintendo’s Wii U was introduced at E3 2011 as the machine that will finally let people who don’t keep track of headshots play video games with the same controller as people who do. The Wii U’s tablet interface is supposed to be as simple and accessible as the original Wii’s wand while also as versatile as the 16 button controllers used by Sony and Microsoft for their consoles. Then just before E3 2012 Nintendo introduced that Wii U Controller Pro, a curved black controller that looks almost identical to the Xbox 360 controller. The only difference in fact is the horizontal arrangement of its analog sticks and, based on early versions at E3, a bit lighter weight. Why did Nintendo bother making this new controller? Why not just let players use the Classic Controller Pro, a handy dual-analog stick controller released on the Wii years ago, since those controllers are compatible with Wii U.
Turns out that Activision made them. No Wii U Controller Pro, no Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 for Wii U.
At least according to Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter. Edge reported on Monday that the outspoken analyst said during the Develop Conference last week that Activision wasn’t willing to bring its marquee series or any of its other big titles to Wii U if Nintendo only allowed them to be played on the tablet controller. “Activision never said anything to me, but I know that [for] big games like Call of Duty they said, ‘No, we’re not putting it on there if you don’t give us a conventional controller.’ So [Nintendo] gave in.”
Pachter went on to say that he doesn’t have high hopes for Wii U in the current video game industry. “I don’t get it. I think that essentially this is a solution in search of a problem. I mean, somebody had an idea—‘let’s make the controller a tablet’—and there aren’t many games that are going to take advantage of that,” said Pachter, “I don’t think [Nintendo] suck—I just think that they really believe that, ‘if we’re still novel, everything we do will work.’ This isn’t going to work.”
One thing is clear: If Nintendo is willing to further muddy its vision for the Wii U—a device whose merits are already difficult to understand—for the sake of publisher support, the company is in peril. Games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II are ultimately a dying breed, built for antiquated technology like the Xbox 360. Activision and other publishers looking to release big budget blockbusters won’t even be working on hardware like Wii U in just a few short years, and then where will Nintendo be?
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