15 September 2012

Rage Against the Machine: Wii U and Bayonetta 2

Platinum Games have copped a lot of hate - and even death threats - following the announcement of Bayonetta 2 as a Wii U exclusive.  Nintendo named itself as the game's publisher, practically assuring its exclusivity, and no doubt adding fuel to the fire.

The people who are angry about all this are people who considered a multiplatform Bayonetta 2 to be a real possibility.  To the those people, I would say this: you should be thanking Nintendo, because I assure you, Bayonetta 2 would not exist on any platform without them:
"That being said, the console games market is in a state of upheaval, so establishing a new game franchise requires a considerable amount of will, determination, and love. Bayonetta is a brand that we want to see become stronger, reaching the hands of more and more gamers, so we have continued to consult with SEGA, the previous game’s publisher, on how we can make sure this takes place. Our answer was a new partnership with Nintendo."
It's not all roses for Bayonetta 2.

Consider this: Platinum Games have not had a hit since the original Bayonetta, which only sold 1.35 million units worldwide.  Now, if I sold 1.35 million of anything, I would regard that as a success, but for SEGA as a publisher, I would imagine that the game sold well below expectations given the marketing push it had.  Now consider the fact that SEGA has financially hit a tight spot, and have had to drastically scale back their publishing operations in order to guarantee future profits.  That means sticking to your Sonics, your Yakuzas, your Monkey Balls, and your Total Wars - not your Bayonettas.  I would add that it is highly likely that Bayonetta 2 was part-way through development before SEGA's scale-back as well.

So you're Platinum Games, and you're faced with a decision: either throw Bayonetta 2 in the bin and it will never get made, or shop it around to another publisher, one that will not only need to fund its remaining development, but will also want it bad enough to buy it back from SEGA.

The only publisher who fits that bill is Nintendo.  Nintendo needs a strong launch lineup for the Wii U, and it needs to prove to 'core' gamers that it is serious about securing exclusive AAA third party content going forward.  In a huge show of faith, Nintendo is also putting its name to Platinum's new IP, publishing Wonderful 101 at launch.

It's clear that Nintendo is supporting Platinum in a big way, and Platinum is returning the favour.  Platinum was clearly looking for a way that Bayonetta 2 could exist, and Nintendo has provided them with that way.