Ubisoft to Nintendo: We want a Wii U price cut and we want it now

Satoru Iwata

Most video game publishers are skittish about Nintendo’s Wii U, and some are even downright dismissive. Just 5-percent of Game Developers Conference attendees are working on new Wii U games according to conference organizers. Ubisoft is unique amongst the major game publishers because it’s still planning to bring all of its major titles to Wii U. Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and even Splinter Cell: Blacklist are said to be heading to Nintendo’s machine. Even Ubi is getting worried about the future of Nintendo’s latest console though, as evidence by their cancelling the exclusive Wii U February release of Rayman Legends to retool it as a multiplatform title. Nintendo needs to change things if it wants to keep Ubi as a Wii U supporter, namely the cost of the console.

Ubisoft’s Alain Corre, director of Ubi’s European, Middle Eastern, and African markets, called on Nintendo for a Wii U price cut this week.

“We always want the hardware to be at a low price because we want as many fans as possible to afford to buy our games,” Corre told Edge Magazine, “We think that Wii U will find its public at some point. Some were expecting sales to be quicker but we are optimistic. I think Nintendo has said that the Wii U sales in general were below expectations originally and the software tie-in ratio is also stable, so I think that when less machines sell, less games sell.”

Nintendo did indeed acknowledge that Wii U sales came in below expectations, even though company president Satoru Iwata said sales were “not bad” just after the Christmas season. That was before the console’s catastrophically low January sales, though. Even as the Wii U drowns at retail, Nintendo is adamant that there will be no Wii U price cut in the near future.

“We are already offering it at a good price,” said Iwata in January, “I would like to make this point absolutely clear. We are putting our lessons from Nintendo 3DS to good use, as I have already publicly stated. However, given that it has now become clear that we have not yet fully communicated the value of our product, we will try to do so before the software lineup is enhanced, and at the same time work to enrich the software lineup, which could make consumers understand the appeal of Wii U.”

Iwata’s comments betray a misunderstanding of the Wii U market, though. Without games, no one will buy the console, but if no one buys the console publishers like Ubisoft won’t make games for the machine at all. Nintendo needs to drop the price of the console in order to create an audience for game makers, and it needs to do it soon.