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Rayman Legends, Ninja Gaiden 3, and the troubling exodus of Nintendo’s Wii U exclusives

rayman legends

With sales standing at 3 million consoles the Wii U has an audience hungry for new games, but since the machine’s November release new games have been few and far between. The end of February was going to bring sweet relief in the form Ubisoft’s Rayman Legends, one of the more promising Wii U originals that debuted at E3 2012. Unfortunately though, Ubisoft broke the bad news yesterday that Rayman Legends would be delayed yet again, this time until Fall 2013. The announcement was specifically a blow to Nintendo players, as Ubisoft also confirmed that Rayman Legends for Wii U is all but complete. It pushed the game back so it could release alongside ports to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, making its platformer yet another Wii U exclusive to jump ship.

“We decided to give the fans what they wanted while at the same time broadening the audience exposed to this innovative and memorable game,” said Ubisoft marketing’s Geoffroy Sardin,  “We heard from many Xbox and PlayStation owners and Rayman fans who told us they really wanted to play Rayman Legends on their current system.”

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Publishers want their games on as many platforms as possible to maximize the return on their investment, so Sardin’s comments hold true. That said, Wii U game sales are dire. Market analysts peg the Wii U attach rate (the number of games sold with a console) in the United States at just 1.2 games per console. Unconfirmed reports on January game sales in the UK say just 34,000 Wii U games were sold including NintendLand packed in with the Deluxe Set.

Rayman simply isn’t a brand that can thrive under those conditions. When Rayman Origins released in 2011, it was available on Wii, PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. It still sold just 50,000 copies in its first month in the US and it failed. It never even broke into the top 35 best-sellers list in the UK.

Tecmo Koei also announced that Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, another Wii U exclusive, will make the jump to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 this spring. VGChartz’s sources indicate that the game’s sold just 200,000 copies since releasing alongside Wii U in November.

Nintendo needs games to sell the Wii U, but publishers need the Wii U to sell in order to justify making games for the platform. For now, as has historically been the case with Nintendo’s consoles, the burden is on Nintendo itself to build that audience. The only way to keep games exclusive to Wii U is for Nintendo to pay for them themselves. “We’re a development company,” said Platinum Games’ Hideki Kamiya on Twitter responding to questions about whether Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101 would stay Wii U exclusive, “Nintendo gives us money, we make Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101, and they sell it. So if Nintendo says, ‘We’re putting Bayonetta 2 on PlayStation 3/Xbox 360,’ it’ll come out on those platforms. So ask Nintendo about it.”

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The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: release date, trailers, rating, and more
Link on island in the sky in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

When Nintendo released the teaser trailer for Breath of the Wild 2 several years ago, it unleashed a whirlwind of rumors and speculation about a sequel to one of the best Zelda games. Thankfully, Nintendo has given us a few new glimpses into what we now know will be called The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which is finally nearing its release in 2023. As anticipation reaches a new high, we've dug up all the information there is about our next adventure in Hyrule.

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How to preorder The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Link freefalling in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

During the February 2023 Nintendo Direct, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was finally made available to preorder. Nintendo also showed off a new trailer and reconfirmed the game's May 12, 2023 release date. Finally, it also announced a new Collector's Edition with some extra goodies, as well as a Tears of the Kingdom Link amiibo. But where exactly can you get these items and are they available to preorder? Here's what you need to know.

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Don’t expect Zelda’s $70 price to become the new Switch standard, says Nintendo
Link looks at his hand in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will be Nintendo's first Switch game to be priced at $70. News that Tears of the Kingdom, a sequel to one of the bestselling and most critically acclaimed titles on the system, will have an increased price compared to its predecessor came as a surprise over three-and-a-half years after its announcement. It also raised questions about what the future of pricing for Nintendo games will be, especially as Sony, Microsoft, and third-party publishers all upped the cost of their new games in recent years. 
While Nintendo will release Tears of Kingdom at $70, a spokesperson for the company tells Digital Trends that this will not always be the case for its first-party games going forward. 
"No," the spokesperson said when Digital Trends asked if this is a new standard. "We determine the suggested retail price for any Nintendo product on a case-by-case basis." 
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To get more insight into the price shift, I spoke to Omdia Principal Analyst George Jijiashvili, who explains what has caused the price of games to go up in recent years and how Tears of the Kingdom demonstrates that Nintendo will "remain flexible about first-party title pricing." Ultimately, Nintendo fans are finally starting to feel the impact of inflation that's been sweeping across the game industry, even if it's only "on a case-by-case basis" for now.
The price is right
Nintendo claims that not every one of its significant first-party game will be $70, and we can actually already see that in action. Preorders just went live for Pikmin 4, which launches on July 21, after Tears of the Kingdom, and it only costs $60. Still, Zelda's price tag indicates that going forward, Nintendo will at least consider raising the price of its most anticipated games to $70. But why start with Tears of the Kingdom?  
When asked why it chose Tears of the Kingdom as its first $70 Nintendo Switch game, a Nintendo spokesperson simply reiterated that the company will "determine the suggested retail price for any Nintendo product on a case-by-case basis." Still, it's a surprising choice for Nintendo to make that pricing change to just one exclusive game almost six years into the Switch's life span. Jijiashvili thinks the choice to do this with Tears of the Kingdom was a pretty apparent one for Nintendo, although it won't apply to everything going forward.
"If you are going to make a game $70, it's going to be the follow-up to one of your most critically acclaimed and bestselling games ever," Jijiashvili tells Digital Trends. "I don’t think that this means that $70 will become the standard price for all major Nintendo releases. It's worth noting that Metroid Prime Remastered is priced at $40. It's clear that Nintendo will remain flexible about first-party title pricing."

It makes basic financial sense for Nintendo to ask for a little bit more for a game it knows will be one of the biggest releases of 2023. But what factors in the game industry and world's economy at large caused Nintendo to make this decision? 
Priced Out
For more than a decade, people got comfortable with AAA video games being priced at $60. Of course, there were occasional exceptions to this rule, but it was seen as an industry standard until the dawn of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Publisher 2K was one of the first to announce a price increase, and companies like EA, Sony, and Microsoft have all followed suit. Jijiashvili chalks this up to inflation-related pressure on game publishers.
"The games industry has already been experiencing a lot of inflationary pressure," he explains. "AAA games are much more expensive to make now than they used to be, but prices have actually been declining in inflation-adjusted terms -- if prices had risen with inflation since 1990, they would now be over $90. On top of that, we’ve had a big burst of general inflation, meaning that publishers are looking at big increases in everything from salaries to tools. It’s going to be really hard for most publishers to avoid passing on all those extra costs at some point."
Jijiashvili provided us with a graphic created by Omdia that "shows what the typical price points for each generation would look like if you adjusted for inflation." As you can see, the inflation-adjusted prices are only exponentially growing, and the big game pricing shifts the graph highlights were all technically not even enough to keep up with inflation when they happened. 

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