Nintendo announced today that it has entered agreements with the physics and animation engine Havok, and Autodesk Gameware for a variety of under-the-hood tools. Both of these agreements allow Nintendo to provide the engines to third-party developers for use in Wii U games.
Havok was used in games like BioShock, and to make Stormtroopers hilariously cling on for dear life in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. The Autodesk agreement includes a suite of Gameware tools: Scaleform for user interface, Kynapse for artificial intelligence, and HumanIK for character animation. Autodesk tools have been used in over 1,000 games to date, including Batman: Arkham City and The Witcher 2.
Nintendo has been positioning the Wii U as the answer to criticisms about its failure to appease the hardcore. With these licensing deals, we can at least be assured that third parties will have access to the tools needed to support recent franchises. Whether they hop on-board and commit development resources to take advantage of the unique controller, on the other hand, remains to be seen.