Editorial: Why Wii U could get Unreal Engine 4
*Editor’s Note: This article is a response to the Kotaku interview with Epic’s Mark Rein about the Wii U and Unreal Engine 4
There are Wii U rumors galore in the aftermath of GDC. During a Q&A session with Mark Rein, co-founder of Epic Games, Rein seemed to announce that the Unreal 4 engine would not be coming to the Wii U.
“… We have Unreal Engine 3 for the Wii U. Right? And Unreal Engine 3 is powering all kinds of amazing games; still lots of games are being made with Unreal Engine 3. We announced today about a new Unreal Engine 3 license. Unreal Engine 3 doesn’t disappear because of Unreal Engine 4. But our goal for Unreal Engine 4 console-wise is next-gen consoles. That’s really what our energies are focused on. If you want to make a Wii U game, we have Unreal Engine 3, and it’s powering some of the best games on the Wii U already.” Mark Rein was reported to say. (Kirk Hamilton at Kotaku.com)
That looked like confirmation enough that the Wii U wouldn’t be getting Unreal Engine 4 support anytime soon. Now Mark Rein has backtracked on the comment he made at GDC. In an interview with Engadget, Rein said, “You heard the stupid gaffe yesterday about the Wii U. If someone wants to take Unreal Engine 4 and ship a game on Wii U, they can! If they wanna ship an Unreal Engine 4 game on Xbox 360, they could make it happen.” This quote makes a lot more sense, considering previous statements saying that Unreal Engine 4 is incredibly scalable, even allowing for mobile support.
What does this mean for Wii U gamers? It means that games created in Unreal Engine 4 will be able to be ported to the Wii U without having the entire visual graphics re-done, which is what game developers would have had to do if Unreal Engine 4 wasn’t available on the Wii U. This would have prevented some developers from bringing their games to the Wii U, which could further cut down on Wii U third party support. Luckily, this is not the case. But even if 3rd party support did dwindle for the Wii U, I don’t think it would be as catastrophic as others believe it to be.
Third party games were not the Wii’s strong point, with the best-selling third party game being Just Dance 2, which is the fifteenth best-selling Wii game at 5 million copies. And yet, Nintendo has sold almost 100 million Wii consoles since its release. The Wii U is operating within a similar niche, survival via first party games. Nintendo’s consoles have always thrived on their first party games. Which games do I have some of the greatest memories playing? My older brother beating me in Mario Kart, my older brother beating me in Mario Party, and Luigi’s Mansion (with my older brother backseat gaming), all of which are Nintendo’s first party games.
It’s a good thing that the Wii U will be able to support Unreal Engine 4 games, but it is not that big of a deal. Nintendo lives and dies by its first party games and as long as Nintendo can continue to create instant classics, their position as the “fun and friendly” console will remain secure.