Wii success = third-party woes?

After console's unexpected buzz from E3, TheStreet.com says game makers were caught unaware, will have few Wii games for holidays.

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Nintendo may be able to pull off the ultimate "I told you so" this holiday season, after the Wii's surprise showing at E3 convinced publishers that its console was the real deal, says TheStreet.com's Troy Wolverton.

Even though publisher support for the innovative console has ramped up greatly since E3, many companies will miss reaping the benefits of the Wii's holiday launch.

An unnamed hedge fund manager told TheStreet.com that the only publisher poised for some Wii success early on is Ubisoft, which is unleashing the shooter/swordplay hybrid Red Steel. The other companies were "caught flat-footed," the source said.

After the GameCube placed a distant third in the current-gen console race, many publishers had all but written Nintendo off. "They weren't expecting anything," Simba Group analyst James Lin said.

At E3, many of the high-profile games showcased for the Wii were being developed in-house at Nintendo, while major third-party publishers seemingly approached the console with a "wait and see" attitude by offering up only a few games.

That attitude has since changed, with several publishers showing considerable interest in the console, most recently software giant Electronic Arts, which announced four new Wii games in development. Among the others jumping on the bandwiigon are Activision, which is bringing WWII to the Wii with Call of Duty 3, and THQ, which is rolling out its hit Cars for the console. Even 2K Sports, who repeatedly passed on putting titles on the GameCube, is getting in on the action.

"The reception this platform received at the E3 show ... is one that makes us take a real strong look at it," said Karl Winters of Take-Two Interactive, 2K Sports' parent label. Winters expects a 2K Sports baseball game on the console by late 2007 or 2008.

It may be too little, too late says Wolverton, who warns that "[third-party] companies will likely have [only a] few Wii games to offer this holiday as stocking stuffers."

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