Three Months After It Launched, the Wii U is Irrelevant to Sports Gaming

Illustration for article titled Three Months After It Launched, the Wii U is Irrelevant to Sports Gaming

For sports gaming, the Wii U wasn't looking much better than its predecessor even a month after release, and there are no signs the console is going to be a full partner anytime soon. The signals sent by sports' dominant publisher indicate it just has no interest in building for the console.


It's not just that the Wii U was left off the official announcement of Madden NFL 14 25. The bigger signal is that Tiger Woods PGA Tour will not have a presence on the platform when its next edition releases at the end of March.


From 2009 to 2011, the Wii version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour was the better reviewed and, by all rights, dominant platform in this series, for a couple of reasons. The Wii Remote was a natural and enjoyable method of control for a golf video game. And as the Tiger Woods user base diverges more from traditional gamer demographics than any sports title, it was a closer fit to the Wii's installation base.

Developers at EA Tiburon understand that golf has a broadly social appeal—it's why they created a "Quick Tournaments" mode in this year's game. "Golf lends itself still to being a party game," producer Sean Wilson told me last week. And it'll have no presence on the Wii U, a platform built on unique social features like the Miiverse, and the successor to the definitive party console.

Yet once Nintendo finally has a console that can deliver Augusta National in high definition, EA Sports bows and exits.


Whatever its reason is for this, EA Sports is not saying explicitly. I asked why they didn't build Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 for Wii U, and if they planned to build any future Tiger Woods PGA Tour games for the Wii U. Here's the answer, not that it really explains much.

We're currently focused on delivering a great Tiger Woods PGA TOUR experience for our fans on the Xbox 360 and PS3, where we have a great opportunity to connect fans to the real world of golf and each other. We don't have any further platform announcements at this time.


The lack of golf on the Wii U—or any future plans for it—is in a way even worse than Madden leaving the console out of the next game's announcement. Madden at least waved the flag at launch, and tried to redeem a series that was woefully underserved by cartoony "All Play" versions that seemed to exist only because a contract required it. If the Wii U can't attract golf, the sport that made the preceding console a preferred option to high-definition competitors, then it really is irrelevant to sports video gaming. Three months after release.

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Could it be that Nintendo's need to drastically innovate how we control games is actually hurting them? I think developers find it harder to make multi-platform games that include the Wii U because they have to take into consideration how they can integrate their game into the Game Pad. At least, that's how I think it will turn out later on in the Wii U's future.