Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime has admitted he'd love to see more third party multiplatform games released on Wii U, although he insists his main focus is on offering customers experiences they can't get on rival platforms.
While major third party publishers initially showed support for Wii U, that has dried up somewhat due to lower than expected hardware sales following the console's November 2012 release.
Unlike 2013's Call of Duty Ghosts, this year's Call of Duty Advanced Warfare wasn't released on Wii U. Nor were the past two FIFA games, although EA chief operating officer Peter Moore told CVG in August that the console was still under consideration for future series releases.
Ubisoft backed Wii U significantly with system exclusive ZombiU and fellow console launch title Assassin's Creed 3, but neither performed as the company had hoped. Both of this year's Assassin's Creed games aren't being released on Wii U, and Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has said the upcoming Wii U version of Watch Dogs will be the last mature game the company releases on the system.
Asked how problematic the decreased third party support for Wii U is, Fils-Aime told Re/code: "I would answer the question in a couple ways. Third parties are bringing multiplatform content to our platform - Watch Dogs from Ubisoft, as an example. I would love to have Call of Duty on our platform. I would love to have any of the big blockbuster, multiplatform titles.
"But I have to say, more specifically, I want games that provide a differentiated consumer experience. If you look at the other two competitive platforms, fundamentally, what's the difference? When you look at either one, either by themselves doesn't have a lot of exclusive content. They have a lot of shared content.
"Look at it from the standpoint of, what don't they have? They don't have our games. They don't have Mario and Zelda. I'd much rather be where Nintendo is, with a differentiated platform, differentiated set-up experiences that we can provide uniquely to the consumer. Let those other guys battle it out over, you know, which visual representation of Call of Duty is most compelling. I like our chances of having a differentiated console and a differentiated series of experiences."
Wii U sales stood at 7.29 million units as of September 30. That compares unfavourably to PS4 sales of 13.5 million units. Despite having a year head start on the latest consoles from rivals Sony and Microsoft, Wii U sales are closer to those of Xbox One. Microsoft's console hadshipped five million units as of March 31, while a further 3.5 million Xbox consoles (One and 360) were shipped in the following six months to September 30.
However, Nintendo said earlier this month that Wii U sales have been on an upward curve since Mario Kart 8's release in May, and Fils-Aime suggested that the system's improved performance could lead to stronger third party backing in the years to come.
"This business is built on a year-and-a-half or two-year planning cycles, especially for the home console space. Products that they're thinking about today are not going to come into the market until two years down the road. By doing a great job today in the here and now, that's what's going to feed the pipeline of great new third party content coming onto our platform. For us, that's the long game that we're trying to play."
Fils-Aime also said Nintendo won't introduce a Wii U successor until developers hit a ceiling on the existing console's potential.
"Our mentality is, fairly soon after we launch new hardware, we already begin thinking about what's next. That's an ongoing process for us. In the end, what galvanizes us to move is when our developers have a great gaming experience that can't be done on the current platform. We're not there yet on the Wii U.
"The experiments that Shigeru Miyamoto showed at E3 show that there's a lot of innovation to be mined with Wii U. We showed off the beginnings of a Zelda game coming to Wii U. We have a lot more content to create for the Wii U, but we're always thinking about what's coming next."