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Advanced Warfare won’t answer the Call of Duty on Wii U

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare first look
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare won’t be coming to Nintendo’s Wii U console, as Michael Condrey, the co-founder of lead developer Sledgehammer Games, confirmed on Twitter. He calls it an “Activision decision,” referring to the mega-publisher behind not just Call of Duty, but Destiny and Skylanders as well.

@1422644 no, no WiiU. That was an Activision decision. We are focused on XboxOne, PS4, and PC.

— Michael Condrey (@MichaelCondrey) August 20, 2014

The game had previously only been announced for PC and PlayStation/Xbox consoles, so this doesn’t come as a surprise. But it’s one more example of the troubles Nintendo has had generating interest in its console among third-party developers.

Related: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare review

The confirmation comes amidst other Wii U drama, with Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot having recently made a surprising declaration about how his own company views the Nintendo console. The publisher’s 2014 hit Watch Dogs was originally announced for a Wii U release, and it’s still supposedly coming… but Guillemot think it will be Ubi’s only adult-friendly offering on the console.

“[Watch Dogs] is coming to Wii U,” he told Game Informer at Gamescom. “It will be the only mature game we publish on it.”

Related: Get your first look at Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare‘s multiplayer mode

Guillemot also had a few things to say about the sort of content Ubisoft does see success with on the Wii U. “What we see is that [Wii U owners] are very interested in Just Dance, very interested by other kinds of games,” he said. “So what we are trying to do is to focus more on the types of games they are interested in.”

To be fair, that attitude could and likely would change if Nintendo’s console found its way into more homes. Sony’s PlayStation 4 currently leads in the new console sales race, with more than 10 million boxes sold through to consumers. Microsoft lags behind with an unspecified number of Xbox Ones sold — a recent, hastily edited Xbox Wire post suggested it’s around 5 million — while the Wii U, which was released a full year before the PS4/XB1, sits at close to 7 million.

Why don’t we see publishers fleeing from Microsoft’s comparably lagging hardware? A lot of it has to do horsepower. The PS4 and Xbox One are roughly on the level in terms of internal components and, more importantly, software architecture. If you’re making a game for one — or for PC, even — it’s relatively easy to get it running on both.

The Wii U, by contrast, falls in some nebulous space between the power of the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 generation and the PS4/XB1 generation. It doesn’t have the juice to run the same games that its two most recently arrived competitors do, and — again, more importantly — it doesn’t use the same CPU architecture that makes ports between the newer consoles so easy.

There’s also the issue of perception, which  Guillemot’s comment about Just Dance speaks to. The audience for the mainstream, adult-friendly games that giant publishers like Activision and Ubisoft deliver is primarily concentrated around Microsoft and Sony’s hardware, and it shows in the software sales. Until these publishers see a demonstrated interest among Wii U users in what would traditionally be considered “core” games — big sales for Wii U exclusives like Hyrule Warriors and Bayonetta 2 could help with that — the status quo isn’t going to change.

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