Ports: A Dangerous Concept For Wii U

During their Summer Showcase Event, EA has revealed Mass Effect 3 to be a Wii U launch title. Besides utilizing the gamepad, the port will feature the Extended Cut DLC, an interactive story chronicling the first two games and more. During the interactive story, players will make decisions that will factor into their Mass Effect 3 experience.

While Nintendo faithful who haven’t yet had the opportunity to play it (do people only own a single console anymore?) should jump at the chance to finally experience the game, how will those who’ve already played it react? Certainly, with its monster sales, this will generally be the case. The most interesting aspect of Mass Effect 3 on Wii U will be to gauge the market’s willingness to buy ports of recent games.

Ports of already released titles to new consoles is common place, but never before has a game with such a large impact been touted as a potential must-buy for a new console. Of course, the proclaimed reason to pick it up is the Wii U functionality. So far, the Wii U controller seems to act as an interactive map. While this will certainly be a big plus in most games, it’s not a revolutionary addition.

New features can be touted as much as they want, but when it comes down to it, you’re simply buying the same game again. The main reason for those already initiated to buy Mass Effect 3 will simply to have a great (sorry, detractors) game to experience on a brand new console. If that proves enough to be a big seller, the concern is that ports could become common place for Wii U.

Having AAA titles re-released for Wii U isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The fear is that if this concept produces big numbers, it will give developers and publishers less motivation to create new titles. After all, why release a new game when you can tweak an old one and throw it on another console?  We’ve already seen this happening on the Wii, with Gamecube classics been tweaked to have Wii Remote functionality. While this doesn’t seem to have had an effect on first-party Nintendo titles, beginning the practice from the start could produce different results.

Of course, we’re not trying to persuade you to avoid purchasing Mass Effect 3. Regardless of how it sells, the hope is simply that Nintendo Wii U gets a bevy of original titles. The big draw to Nintendo isn’t graphical power or top-selling third party releases, but innovative hardware and titles. If the majority of games end up being ports, it’d render the console a 360/PS3 with a second screen. Nobody wants that.