Why This Studio Will Never Work With Nintendo Again

Why This Studio Will Never Work With Nintendo Again

Microsoft has Xbox Live; Sony has the PlayStation Network. Nintendo technically has WiiWare, but its download service hasn’t enjoyed the same breadth of offerings or popularity as other digital download services. And yet the country is full of homes where Wii hardware can be found. So what gives?

WiiWare distribution, it seems, just isn’t worth a developer’s time.

Trent Oster is a game development veteran, formerly of BioWare and lately of digital distribution service Beamdog. Beamdog’s internal studio Overhaul Games released a port of MDK2 to WiiWare last year, and, according to Oster, it was an experience not worth repeating… ever.

Gamasutra reports that Oster isn’t the first developer to claim that Nintendo’s policies prevent developers from receiving revenue from Wii distribution of their games:

Oster … claims developers must sell 6,000 units of a WiiWare game before receiving a payment from Nintendo: “We’d love to see some money back on the title, as it is the best version of MDK2 on any console, but we’ve yet to see anything.”

Gamasutra previously spoke with developers who acknowledged that a minimum sales requirement exists, and one small studio even doubted it would ever receive a payment for its WiiWare game. UK-based indie Different Cloth also admitted that its disappointing WiiWare sales for Lilt Line prevented it from earning any money from the port.

Oster also called out the 40MB file size limit on WiiWare games as prohibitively low. Even accounting for file compression and installation, the limit seems small. (For comparison, currently on my PC Machinarium takes 345MB and highly aged SimSity 2000 takes 104MB; mobile apps tend to take between 3MB and 10MB of storage on my phone.) The certification process for the game also took nine months, although Oster acknowledges that some of the delay was due to the small size and heavy workload of the team on his end.

If Nintendo truly hopes to see the Wii U succeed after its launch late this year, easy digital distribution will have to be a part of the package. Smaller-budget games, experimental games, ports and updates of old games, and indie games all thrive through digital download services on other platforms — Xbox, PlayStation and PC — that are easy for both developers and consumers to use. If Nintendo’s business practices truly are too challenging for game developers to bother with, then game developers won’t bother developing for the platform. And a console with no games to play on it really doesn’t serve much purpose for anyone at all.

MDK2 console dev done with Nintendo after WiiWare loss, 9-month certification [Gamasutra]

Top photo: Flickr user -Bert23-


  • God knows I love Nintendo, but those dudes seriously need to get their heads out of their arse. They could be so incredibly successful on the digital distribution front but it’s like they don’t even try.

  • “Another reason why developing for PC is more economical. You will always see the money and you can have whatever file size you want.” – PC Master Gaming Race.

  • Nintendo and Nintendo related services have not been friendly to smaller devolopers since the SNES era. Lets face it you buy a Nintendo for Nintendo games, thats it. Nintendos first party releases will decide the fate of Wii U, nothing else.

    • That’s been the case for years – even back with the NES.

      Nintendo has always played favorites to their own inhouse games. Heck, there were the only company I can think of that once had a three game per annum rule for each publisher and for a long time refused to use silicon chips manufactured anywhere other than Japan.

      There is more to them, but I’m keeping it brief. Most of what I know is from the book, Game Over, if anyone is interested in the history of Nintendo up to the mid-90s.

    • The problem is that now they have to compete with companies that are much better at attracting developers. Sony is pretty good at it, and it is Microsoft’s core competency.

      This is also why, no matter how good the hardware is, no matter how well the console sells, Nintendo always find themselves with an empty release schedule three years in.

      I’m going to wait until the Wii U fails once Nintendo once again alienate every developer and publisher they work with and pick one up on the cheap. It’ll be the first Nintendo console I won’t be buying as soon as I can, but honestly their games’ll keep.

  • Were bitching about this at the end of the consoles life?? This info has been known for years!! There was even a comparison up (I believe here on kotaku) years ago showing the pros and cons of all of them and Wiiware was considered “reasonable” then..

    Oh well, lets hope Nintendo do better with the next online service – which looks to be the case so far.

  • The so-called perfect DD services aren’t though.

    I just had to download a 1 gig ‘update’ to my Batman Arkham Lockdown game. Through iTunes. Along with 50 other apps with varying file sizes.

  • Be interested to know why they thought this type of game would have sold better on WiiWare compared to the PSN/Live side of things.

    • This is a good point. Before selling my Wii, I remember trying to add friends, play online multiplayer. WTF? And what’s with the 9-or-so digit code to add a friend? Who said that would be acceptable?

  • Meh, I am way beyond thinking I know better than Nintendo. They constantly go and do things that don’t seem to make sense to anyone else, yet they are still somehow insanely successful.

  • Pre and during the SNES era Nintendo were the be all and end all of gaming for the most part. Most of their competitors came about after having deals gone bad or ignoring new trends or just being general asshats about everything. For instance,the Playstation would not of have ever existed if Nintendo didn’t piss off Sony.

    Do you think Nintendo is going to drop the ball again and shoot themselves in the foot with online distribution? I think it seems very likely.

  • Just for the sake of mentioning it… big games (not just casual gaminge) on the phone tend to require > 20mb and some over 100mb, keep in mind that some smallish looking games download datafiles the first time you play.
    Angry Birds are fun and all, but doesn’t have much of an epic story or great visuals and music.

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