Why Bayonetta 2 was only released for the Wii-U
The first time I played Bayonetta was about a year ago and I was really into the game. I fell in love with it almost instantly. Its quirkiness, gameplay, and overall style soon made it one of my favorites. Thus, when I found out there was a sequel, I jumped on it wanting to know where to get it and how much it would cost me. But it was a Wii-U exclusive.
That was the moment where I couldn't help but ask, "Why?" Why would a game originally released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have its sequel be for Wii-U only? Granted, the original was released for the Wii-U four years later, but why cut out such a huge console base?
The Wii-U isn't the most profitable console on the market and the Wii-U version of the original game couldn't have outsold the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions right? I needed to do some digging.
Why would PlatinumGames, Bayonetta's developer, go along with releasing Bayonetta 2 on only the Wii-U? That would effectively limit their sales to only people who have a Wii-U or those who are willing to buy a Wii-U for the sequel. Maybe the sales data would help get to the bottom of the problem. Maybe I would be proven wrong and Bayonetta 2 would have had outstanding sales on the Wii-U.
The Wii-U itself
The Wii-U hasn't been selling well lately, let alone a year ago when Bayonetta 2 released. Nintendo's website states that, as of September 30, 2015, only 10.73 million Wii-Us have been sold. It is their lowest selling console to date with the second closest being the Nintendo GameCube which sold over double the amount of Wii-Us.
So the console itself has sold poorly. How could PlatinumGames decide to make such a choice when the other consoles had such a huge fanbase?
The Series Sales Data
That leaves us with one final striking statistics based question: how has Bayonetta 2 performed so far? Has it sold near as much as the first game?
While Nintendo has not personally listed statistics for the game's sales, there have been numerous sites that have tried to get a figure for the game. One website said that, as of April 2015, the game had sold 157,000 copies. However, according to VG Chartz, the game has sold 850,000 copies as of November 14, 2015.
Since Nintendo has not commented on the figures, it is impossible to know if they are accurate, or even close, but I'm going to give Bayonetta 2 the benefit of the doubt and say that VG Chartz is correct and that Bayonetta 2 has sold 850,000 copies.
However, the original Bayonetta still did much better. About a year after it's release (time spanning from October 29, 2009 to March 31, 2010), Bayonetta sold 1.35 million copies.
Unfortunately, I am unable to find any data on how well the original game sold on the Wii-U. Nintendo has not released the information and no one else seems to have even guessed how well the game did.
The original Bayonetta outsold the sequel in the same time span by, at least, about half a million copies.
However, in other words, after about a one year gap between the release date and sales figures, the original Bayonetta sold much better than the sequel -- and that is assuming that VG Chartz has provided accurate information on the sales for the second game. Without any data on how the original game did on the WIi-U, I can only infer that it did poorly. So far we have failed to answer the question of why PlatinumGames decided the Wii-U was best.
Nintendo wanted a chance to sell the Wii-U
In case you are unaware, the publisher for Bayonetta 2 is Nintendo. It has been rumored that Nintendo took this as their chance to sell more Wii-Us. It wasn't out of spite for other consoles, but a way for them to make money. According to a Kotaku article by Owen Good, Bayonetta 2 gave Nintendo a chance to appeal to gamers who don't go for Nintendo's typical items. The company was trying to demonstrate that a serious, sexual hack n' slash could make its way to the console.
Buying Bayonetta 2 also gives people an excuse to buy a second console. If fans of the series want to play the sequel, they have to pay for a Wii-U first; if someone is desperate enough to play the game, that means another sale for Nintendo.
With how poor the Wii-U was doing, I can't really blame Nintendo for at least trying and it makes sense that they would try something different in an attempt to boost their sales figures.
Nintendo saved the franchise
Upon dying in Bayonetta, the screen would flash and say "The witch hunts are over." Well, Nintendo didn't want this poor witch to die permanently. According to many fans of the series, the game was only picked up by Nintendo. Sony and Microsoft didn't go for the sequel. Thus, if Nintendo didn't pick up the game, their would be no sequel at all. A sequel on a console most people don't seem to have is better than no sequel at all right?
According to a blog post by PlatinumGames, the company chose Nintendo because Nintendo was a steady company and Nintendo would allow the franchise to reach more gamers worldwide. This would in turn help the series become more prolific and help the franchise overall. Their official statement reads:
"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... Our answer was a new partnership with Nintendo. Along with their new hardware, Nintendo, as a company, is dedicated to establishing a new future for the games industry, as you can tell by their record of passionate support for gaming. Alongside Nintendo, we hope to grow the Bayonetta brand beyond where it stands today, allowing even more gamers around the world to experience the action of our beloved witch."
This is massively important because it was rumored that Sega, the original publisher of the game, dropped Bayonetta during its reshuffle in 2012; Sega stated that they would only focus on core franchises in the future. Thus, if Nintendo didn't pick up the franchise, Bayonetta would probably be a distant memory. At least the game was kept alive, even if it was on a less popular console.
Honestly, I'm still a little upset, maybe even butthurt, about the fact that one of my favorite games had its sequel released for a console I have no interest in buying or even remotely care about, but Nintendo did help keep the franchise alive for at least a little longer; Nintendo allowed Bayonetta to have a sequel in the first place. Even if the game hasn't been selling well and the Wii-U hasn't been selling well, at least the series didn't die after one installment and PlatinumGames was able to make their "true sequel."