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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Why EA Sports was Wrong for Not Backing the Wii U

I've always been a big Nintendo fan. I love that they brought motion controls into gaming, and I love how they generally focus on positive party games rather than blood and guts first person shooters. I bought a Wii when it was released, and I am one of the few people who still plays the Wii on occasion (mainly Smash Bros. Brawl with friends, of course). I also sometimes use my Wii to watch Netflix, etc.

In addition to being a huge Nintendo fan, I'm also a huge fan of EA Sports games, especially Madden and the NBA 2K series. Of course, in 2013, EA stopped making games for the Wii U, stating that the system isn't powerful enough for their games. To me, this is ridiculous, because they already successfully released Madden 13 for Wii U. Madden 13 wasn't quite as beautiful on the Wii U as it was on the PS4 and X-Box One. It also lacked a few other features. But personally, I could care less. It's still in HD and it's still a decent Madden game that garnered a 75 score on Metacritic. Most Nintendo fans who play Madden don't care that it isn't in 1080p. If Madden was a great on Game Cube, PS2 and X-Box, it should only be better ten years later on a far more powerful Wii U.

Yet EA sports seems almost obsessed with 1080p and shiny new bells and whistles that casual gamers don't really care about. And as a result, they shunned a perfectly capable Wii U, hurting Nintendo and also hurting themselves in the process. Yes, Wii U sales are abysmal, but this doesn't mean that the other consoles are doing great. In fact, the Xbox One is selling so poorly that "retailers have begun to offer heavy incentives on the console" (link). As of April 2014, the Xbox One has sold 5 million units worldwide, compared to Wii U's 6 million and PS4's 7 million. By ignoring Nintendo's HD Wii U, EA Sports is ignoring roughly 1/3 of all gamers in hopes that the Xbox One will somehow turn around.

While many say that the Wii U is finished as a system, it is hard to count this system out before Smash Bros. and Mario Kart have been released. I would argue that these two series of games are the best system sellers in the history of gaming. Eventually, Nintendo will almost certainly lower its price to $200, making a Smash Bros. or Mario Kart bundle irresistible around Christmas time. This will inevitably bolster Wii U sales, though maybe only to the level of GameCube.

So what will I do? Will I eventually buy a Wii U even though it doesn't have EA Sports games? It's honestly a tough choice. Eventually, I may pick up a cheap Xbox 360 or PS3 to play the sports games (since I don't care about 1080p) and possibly pick up a Wii U in the future to play Smash Bros. and Mario Kart. Or I may do what most people are doing and not buy a console at all this generation. I'm guessing that EA Sports didn't see this happening. They probably imagined that Nintendo fans who play EA Sports games would be willing to shell out $400-$500 for an Xbox One or PS4 just so we can play Madden. But this is faulty logic, as most most Nintendo fans are middle-class, casual gamers who prefer saving $200 and aren't traumatized by playing games in 720p.

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