Simply put, the Wii U hasn't been selling well.
Before you come to the comments section and give us an earful, know that we're not the ones passing judgment. Developers behind some of the gaming industry's larger franchises have taken to the airwaves lately to explain why the Wii U just isn't getting as many exclusives – or games – as before.
Take Ubisoft president Yves Guillemot who, in speaking to Kotaku at this year's E3, let slip that the company doesn't plan to develop exclusives for the struggling console until Nintendo pushes more devices into gamers' hands.
"We need more sold," Guillemot said. "They are coming with five of their biggest brands ever. And the Yen went down. So maybe they will take steps that will increase the number of consoles sold."
Guillemot, at the time, was referring to Nintendo's E3 "power lineup" of new titles from some of its strongest franchises: Zelda, Super Mario, Mario Kart, Smash Brothers, Pokémon — the list goes on.
But if you think that Ubisoft is just the crazy exception to the rule, the single developer that's going out on a limb and shooting itself in the foot when it comes to Nintendo's latest console, you'd be wrong.
While it's been known for some time that Electronic Arts has ceased development on Wii U titles, the fact was painfully confirmed for sports fans at the E3 convention when the company confirmed that it has no plans to release Madden NFL 25 on the Wii U — the odd console out, given that the game will make its way to both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, as well as Microsoft's and Sony's next-gen consoles currently in the works.
Joystiq went straight to the source, asking Nintendo of America's head of corporate communications, Charlie Scibetta, about the relationship between one of the industry's biggest game developers and Nintendo's (struggling) platform.
"You'd have to ask EA about their future development plans. EA is a great partner of ours, they've had games on our platforms before. They want what all third parties want and what we want: for the install base to grow," Scibetta said. "We're confident that once some of these games come out that we have planned between now and the holiday and into 2014, that it will help drive the install base and when that happens the platforms will look more enticing to third parties."
Electronic Arts was a bit blunter.
"The only thing they can do to fix it is to sell more boxes. We're a rational company, we go where the audience is. We publish games where we think we can make a great game and hit a big audience, and make money," said Electronic Arts Labels President Frank Gibeau in an interview with Joystiq. "That's why we're here, that's why we have an industry."
While that's the last salvo that's been fired between Nintendo and its developers regarding Wii U sales, it's not as if Nintendo has been shy of making a few critiques of its own as it relates to developers' fears – in this case, all the furore surrounding used game sales and the various relationships publishers will have with the major consoles from Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft.
"So we see that the trade-in frequency on Nintendo content is much less than the industry average – much, much less. So for us, we have been able to step back and say that we are not taking any technological means to impact trade-in and we are confident that if we build great content, then the consumer will not want to trade in our games," said Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime in an interview with Polygon.
In other words, developers want Nintendo to sell more consoles – a Catch-22 scenario that will allow the company to tap into more exclusives and, presumably, more console sales. And Nintendo, regarding developers' fears over the state of the used game market going forward, has a simple answer of its own: Make better games.