When Nintendo introduced the Wii U during E3 2011, Electronic Arts then-CEO John Riccitiello said his company and Nintendo had entered into an "unprecedented partnership" and couldn't "wait to see EA games" on the Wii U. Two years and four EA games later, the only thing unprecedented about this partnership is that it appears to be over.
EA is giving up on the Wii U.
"We have no games in development for the Wii U currently," EA spokesperson Jeff Brown recently told Kotaku. Brown didn't rule out the possibility that EA games may return to the Wii U in the future, Kotaku reports. For now, however, anticipated upcoming EA titles like Battlefield 4 and Dragon Age 3: Inquisition will be no-shows on the Wii U. EA had previously confirmed that Madden NFL 25 will skip the Wii U.
Cooling on Frostbite 3
EA's comments to Kotaku are the first confirmation the gaming company plans to freeze out the Wii U, but there were earlier indications this was going to be the case. On May 6, Johan Andersson, technical director at EA's DICE studio in Sweden, said that EA's newest gaming engine, Frostbite 3, won't come to the Wii U. "FB3 [Frostbite 3] has never been running on Wii U," Andersson said via Twitter. "We did some tests with not too promising results with FB2 & chose not to go down that path."
Frostbite 3 is the key to future EA games and will first appear this fall when it powers Battlefield 4 on PCs, the Xbox 360, and the PlayStation 3. EA's Wii U Frostbite snub has to be doubly concerning. Not only is EA ignoring the Wii U platform, but it's doubling down on smartphones and tablets with a new Frostbite Go gaming engine for mobile devices.
EA isn't the only gaming studio to give the Wii U thumbs down. Rockstar Games won't be bringing Grand Theft Auto V to the Wii U, and Activision has yet to say whether the upcoming title Call of Duty: Ghosts will arrive on Nintendo's console.
Nintendo's tough road with Wii U
Nintendo has struggled to see the Wii U gain adoption since its rollout in 2012. In April, the company announced it had sold just 3.45 million Wii U consoles by the end of its fiscal year in March. Wii U sales for FY2012 were 14 percent lower than the company's goal, which was already a revised target following poorer than expected reception for the new console. Nintendo's aging Wii outsold the Wii U by just over half a million units during 2012.
It may be tempting to argue that EA's Wii U snub foreshadows the end of Nintendo's unpopular console, similar to how EA's Dreamcast snub foretold the end of Sega's console fortunes. Nintendo, however, has a strong base of first-party titles that could keep the Wii U well-supplied with games even without intense third-party support. The company in late April said it had a number of game title announcements planned for E3 this June. Upcoming Wii U titles from Nintendo include additions to the always popular Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda franchises.