Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Rayman / Wii U thing

at 1:02 AM
This is a fun topic on everyone's mind, so I can't help but mention it. In August 2012, Ubisoft announced that the sequel to the acclaimed Rayman Origins, to be titled Rayman Legends, would be released as a Wii U launch title in November of the same year. Included in this announcement was the claim that it would be a Wii U exclusive. Nintendo and fans championed the game as a system-seller, one of the few third-party exclusives to get excited about. The development team was unable to ready the game in time for launch, and it was delayed to February 2013. Earlier this week, Ubisoft announced that the game was finished and ready for launch, but for business reasons was being withheld from store shelves until September. Oh yeah, and when it hit in September, it would be on Wii U. And Xbox 360. And PS3.
Nintendo loyalists and Wii U early adopters were understandably outraged - how would you feel if you spent $300 for a console just to play an upcoming game, then after the fact found out you didn't need to do so? I try to keep my opinions on the industry toned down on this site because every minute I spend Michael Pachtering, I could be analyzing an actual game. So I'll reserve my thoughts on Wii U (it's a piece of shit, a betrayal by Nintendo of its supporters, and a laughable business model that will be lucky if it only proves to be their Saturn, rather than their Dreamcast). But there's been a lot of outcry about what a terrible business decision (i.e. even if it wasn't costing them fans, it would supposedly be losing them sales) this is on Ubisoft's part, beyond being a slap in the face to consumers.

The primary argument is that releasing early for Wii U can't hurt, because it's not like Ubisoft loses out if they sell more U copies than 360 and PS3. What this suggestion circumvents is that by September, there will surely be more U owners than there are here in February (probably... I don't think Nintendo is tanking so bad as to expect more returns than sales), and it is well known that the majority of software sales are done in the first month after release. So if you've got five million Wii U owners in February, the MOST units you could sell in the first month is five million. For which you would need to achieve a 100% attach. But if by September another ten million Us have been sold, you can sell five million units by achieving a (much more realistic if still high) 33% attach. The only way to sell five million units with a 33% attach if the game is released in February is if you can maintain that rate for all new consoles sold over the next seven months. Not a feasible goal.
Everything Wii should have been in 2006... now a $300 console that feels seven years outdated
So while I'm sure some backroom dealing has gone on with Sony and MS to get themselves a bigger piece of the pie (with perhaps a few bucks slid Ubi's way), it seems to me that the most obvious reason for the delay is simply that the Wii U has not sold to expectations and has an unfavorable market forecast. A dick move my Ubisoft, but the blame is on Nintendo for being unable to get their console into more households. Fuck over the third parties and they'll fuck over you.


  1. True, there will be more people with a Wii U by the fall. There will also be a shitload more games to buy. Rayman Legends was situated as a major title in a game drought for a new system owned by people dying to buy something. No, they would not have got a 100% attach rate, but it's likely it would have been one of the best-selling Wii U games so far. In September Wii U owners are going to have to choose between many options, and that, combined with the hostility Ubisoft's move has engendered, make me believe that Legends will sell less units in the fall, in spite of the increased number of Wii U owners,than it would have this month. So it's still a terrible business decision.

    1. I agree that - considering the backlash - the reality is that they will lose sales over this. They either very poorly anticipated what public reaction would be, or received good enough bonuses from MS and Sony that they simply don't care about the sales they'll lose to that. But *will* they really have that much more competition in the fall? "A shitload more games" is certainly an exaggeration - what is on the horizon to make you think that?

      Were I a developer or publisher, I would not want to be releasing a game into today's U climate. Ubisoft must know that Rayman isn't a console-mover and would rather play the software competition in September than the hardware market in February.