At the Game Developers Convention last week, Epic Games game a talk that showed off some of the updated aspects of their upcoming Unreal Engine 4. UE4 will power advanced next generation titles with superior lighting and particle performance over its predecessor, Unreal Enging 3 (which has been optimized for the Wii U).
Epic’s VP Mark Rein, who was asked a question during the presentation about whether UE4 would run on Wii U, laughed and said no, suggesting that that the company was concentrating on next-gen consoles from Microsoft and Sony. That news comes as a shock to fans of Nintendo’s latest console, which promised buyers that Nintendo would finally be getting some love – and mature titles – from third-party developers.
The next day, Rein clarified his remarks, saying that the Wii U has more than sufficient power to run games based on Unreal Engine 4. It seems likely, however, that a developer who wishes to ship a game made with UE4 on the Wii U isn’t going to have too much help from Epic – they’d have to work out much of the optimization themselves.
This news comes on the tail of Eurogamer’s interview with DICE’s Patrick Bach, who implied that Frostbite 3 – and thus Battlefield 4, Mass Effect 4 and Dragon Age 3 – won’t be coming to the Wii U.
Like Unreal Engine 4 above, however, there aren’t any real technical limitations preventing Frostbite 3, and the associated games, from coming to Nintendo’s latest console. Some of it has to do with the power, absolutely, but in DICE’s case, there won’t be a Battlefield 4 on Wii U because they’d have to make a different game that takes advantage of a much different controller.
At the end of the day, neither Epic Games nor DICE are willing to spend the development time necessary to make their games work on a system that they fear may not have the same attach rate for third party titles as its competitors will. If the Wii U becomes sufficiently popular, that attitude is likely to change. Right now, it doesn’t seem likely, making this something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.