Speaking with Forbes’ Erik Kain, Moffitt downplayed Nintendo’s lack of third-party support for the Wii U. “We have strong relationships with third parties and have a strong lineup of upcoming games from key partners such as Ubisoft, Disney, Sega and Warner Bros., among others,” Moffitt told Kain. However, Moffitt did acknowledge publishers' fear of developing on a low-selling system like the Wii U. “We realize that we need to continue to build the installed base to demonstrate that making games for Wii U is a good investment.” In cases like Konami’s “Pro Evolution Soccer 2014” not coming to Wii U, the console’s small install base has certainly hindered the system.
When asked if the Wii U could rely solely on Nintendo’s first-party exclusives, Moffitt had this to say.
We don’t see this as an either-or proposition. Nintendo is in the unique position of being both a hardware manufacturer as well as a software producer. We want Wii U to be the console that every developer wants to publish on. A key way to make that happen is to grow the installed base of Wii U owners, and we know that current Wii U owners are very happy with their purchases. Our great lineup in the second half of the year will create more buyers, and beyond that third-party support is important to attract as diverse an audience as possible.
While it’s encouraging to hear Nintendo want to make the Wii U the “console that every developer wants to publish on,” their troublesome history with third-party support for Nintendo consoles speaks louder than their wishful thinking. Either because of hardware limitations or the lack of older players showing support, Nintendo consoles typically see less third-party games than Sony’s or Microsoft’s. The Wii U seems to be suffering the worst in third-party support than past Nintendo consoles, with big publishers like EA dropping the system so early in its run. n-Space, a small "Nintendo-friendly developer,” spoke in August about how they had to drop the Wii U (and 3DS) over low publishers' demand. And, as quoted in the Forbes’ article, Bethesda’s Pete Hines didn’t shy away from criticizing Nintendo on Gametrailers’ Bonus Round, for not involving third-party developers in the Wii U’s early development, like Sony and Microsoft always do for their systems.
Moffitt counted Ubisoft as one of the Wii U’s strongest supporters, but even they had to scale back support by denying the system any more exclusives, following disappointing sales of “ZombiU.” This also led to Ubisoft’s controversial decision of making the once Wii U-exclusive “Rayman Legends” into a multiplatform title and delaying it for several months, at a time where the Wii U desperately needed games. Now, there’s talk of Ubisoft dropping the Wii U altogether, due to the incredibly poor performance of “Splinter Cell: Blacklist.”
It’s never too late for Nintendo to turn things around for the Wii U (take the 3DS or the PlayStation 3, for example), but they’re certainly facing an uphill battle in convincing publishers and consumers to believe in the console again.