id Boss: Third-party Wii Development 'Not Really Justified'

id CEO Todd Hollenshead remains unconvinced that there's a good reason for "independent, Wii-centric" development. He's willing to hear someone out, he just hasn't heard a good argument for it yet.

Hollenshead, in an interview with GameSpot, was asked if the Wii's meteoric sales and success inevitably meant a shift in resources toward third-party development more suited for that platform. Putting it gently, Hollenshead said no.

If you look at the data, the Wii is Nintendo—and then everybody else. And then among everybody else, it's licensed properties - and then stuff that people lose money on. So, for a really original, game-centric IP, if you're a third-party developer, I would say, "Show me what makes such a compelling case for the Wii.

That's not to say he ridicules Nintendo or the platform. Actually, he brings up a point I think we'd all do well to keep in mind: "Sometimes people lose sight of the fact that almost every company doesn't try to be all things to all people. Nintendo isn't trying to be all things to all people either.

Of course, this will be the year The Conduit finally releases, published by Sega. But Madworld (also Sega) despite a generous run-up of hype and reasonably good reviews, hasn't made the kind of splash on Wii analagous to a typical multiplatform drop on the 360 and PS3. That underlines another point Hollenshead made:

Even if we make an awesome game, there's still a question as to whether we're going to justify our investment. And also, I mean, if you look at the market, the type of games we traditionally make, those games are selling record numbers on non-Wii platforms.

Would Madworld have done so on PS3 and/or 360?

Hollenshead Rages About PC Gaming, E3 Surprises [Gamestop via Play.tm


Comments

    Harsh but mostly fair. The Wii market is the least played console in surveys, he does have good points. We'll never know how many 3rd party exclusive non-casual titles made a profit. Looking at titles using a non-realistic art style would reduce the list further.
    Blame it on the lack of realistic graphics and crazy art styles (no more heroes, Okami, Zack & Wiki, Madworld, Muramasa, Little King's Story, de Blob)?
    Or blame them being new IP?
    Hard to say if Madworld would have done better, it should on Wii as it fills a gap, heaps of hype. ps3 & 360 already have lots of hardcore & action titles, so it may not have done better.

    I think Hollenshead's first statement really exemplifies the problem: Wii is Nintendo and then the rest. And "the rest" is what? Licensed properties and stuff people lose money on.

    One has to ask why Nintendo can sell so well on Wii, but many third parties can't. It isn't due to some magical Nintendo fluke, but rather because Nintendo tends to develop software that takes advantage of the Wii platform - in other words, titles that can't be experienced the same way everywhere else.

    Those developers who simply port everything to Wii and end up with a cheap copy of their Xbox 360 or PS3 counterparts are missing the point. And, frankly, they deserve to experience a little pain at retail for that.

    Wii demographics show a wide age range as well as a wide range of experience. Third party developers spend a lot of time pointing to Nintendo's success as a barrier to entry, or to the poor sales of (often) poor, rushed titles.

    Rather than simply make excuses, developers need to exert the same enthusiasm, commitment and innovation to Wii software that they show with other platforms. Those that do have mostly achieved reasonable success on Wii - it's a misnomer to suggest that all of these great Wii-exclusive third party games are tanking at retail.

    So while I appreciate some aspects of Mr. Hollenshead's comments, I also think he is approaching Wii with a blunt-instrument mentality. Developers must take responsibility for their products and must seek to deliver solid titles that perform well on their platform of choice, as opposed to regularly passing the buck.

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