Nintendo: Wii-shful thinking?

It would seem that with the Wii’s strong sales performance, including outselling Sony, Nintendo is increasingly being pressured to talk about future plans. Reggie Fils-Aime, President of Nintendo America, has indicated that Nintendo is interested in a GTA4 port for the Wii. What he said goes along these lines:

“Nintendo has done all it can to persuade Take-Two Interactive Software to bring the Grand Theft Auto franchise to Nintendo consoles, and it is now up to the third party publisher to decide whether Rockstar Games’ immensely popular series will appear on Wii.”
December, 2006

The timing of this statement is interesting if you consider the new-found strength of Nintendo in the console wars. As recently as Summer 2004, however, David Gosen of Nintendo Europe had this to say about a collaboration between Nintendo and Take2 (a sample of our reporting from 2004):

“David Gosen, Managing Director at Nintendo of Europe has confirmed what many critics have been predicting – even with San Andreas creeping around the corner, Nintendo still do not want to introduce Grand Theft Auto to the GameCube. Gosen commented that GTA is a violent game and “a dead-end street”.”
June, 2004

The fact is that Rockstar has already announced and signed deals with Sony and Microsoft for an October 2007 GTA4. Because Nintendo is at this point a strong competitior for Sony and Microsoft, and Nintendo seems to be playing catch-up at this point, it would be in the interests of neither Sony nor Microsoft to allow a slice of the GTA4 pie for Nintendo. However if the Wii is to have a strong shelf-life, Nintendo needs to seduce more game developers to chip in. How long will it be before gamers get tired of baseball and golf?

What is certain at this point is that GTA4 has been in development for years and is coming out for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in October. About a PC version; it is difficult to imagine Rockstar abandoning its PC fan-base. The Hot Coffee debacle probably struck a serious internal investigation at Rockstar into how such an easter egg made it into the final release, yet that was an oversight by the developers which was spotted by enthusiastic modders, and a setback which is well overcome by the millions that the GTA trilogy on PC has earned the developers. Therefore a PC release either in October or in 2008 is very probable.

In any case, Nintendo’s attempts to attract GTA4 to the Wii seem to me late and very much a case of wishful thinking encouraged by the press. Although GTA4 is supposed to be the next revolutionary title, and Rockstar is quite the unpredictable and secretive developer, a GTA4 on the Wii in October is a very, very long shot. That’s two ‘very’s.