Activision confirmed today that the next, Kevin-Spacey-filled Call of Duty game, Advanced Warfare, is not scheduled to release on Nintendo's Wii U console. Astute readers will recall that the last two games did make appearances on the system. Is this the ultimate bad news for the House of Mario?
Ultimately, I don't think this is that big of a deal.
CoD games on Nintendo's platform really never caught on. I liked a few of the ones on Wii because of the pointer control, but you're just not going to get the CoD player base interested in a Nintendo platform unless it's packing equitable power to other consoles.
But I really don't think the typical audience for this game wanted to use alternative control methods in exchange for a less-than-cutting-edge visual experience.
Don't get me wrong: I love my Wii U and I don't really think it's limited by its graphical fidelity, but I think the CoD players (generally) care mainly about a graphics and a huge online infrastructure. Those just aren't Nintendo's interests—or strengths—right now.
One could make the argument that this is the final betrayal of Nintendo's original positioning of the Wii U as a machine that would finally, for the first time since the SNES, give Mario fans a home console that had the sort of third-party support that just hasn't existed for Nintendo in years. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 as a Wii U launch title was a major statement (and one that Nintendo likely worked hard to earn). Getting Call of Duty: Ghosts the next year (after what were likely uninspiring sales), was either part of the original deal or a hard-won battle.
I guess I've partly (mostly?) given up on Nintendo's original "vision" of the Wii U. I thought, for sure, that the first year it was out, we would be getting pretty much every big AAA, multiplatform title day-and-date with other systems: BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider (2013), and so on.
It quickly became clear that that was not the case. Sure, Wii U got a few big, multiplatform titles in late 2012 and 2013 (Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag probably being the biggest); but, now, even Assassin's Creed seems to be ignoring the Wii U with both of its upcoming games (Rogue and Unity).
So, I've resigned myself, for better or worse, that the potential success of the Wii U, at least for the foreseeable future, hinges on its ability to attract other compelling content that isn't going toe-to-toe with Xbox One or PS4 graphically (which is part of CoD: AW's big appeal, based on the promotions so far).
I would certainly not be complaining if the game had a Wii U version of CoD, but I don't think that, realistically, its presence on the console would sell any additional hardware units, which is key for Nintendo right now. It makes me wonder if Nintendo has reached the same conclusion and just decided that it wasn't worth pursuing Activision any further to persuade them (monetarily) to bring the game to their console.