Beamdog further discuss WiiWare disappointment

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Following his brief comments yesterday, Beamdog founder and ex-BioWare project director Trent Oster has more thoroughly expressed his thoughts regarding disappointment with the Wii, WiiWare and confusion with the Wii U.

“I’m not an oracle on the problems with WiiWare, but from my perspective the platform hasn’t been a success for many developers outside of Nintendo”, Oster explained.

“The 40MB size limit on WiiWare makes it very difficult to bring larger games to the platform. We had to go to war on MDK2 to get it to fit within the 40MB constraints, taking a 400 plus megabyte game and cutting it a full order of magnitude in size. We put a lot of effort into managing the compromises to get the game down in size and still keep the quality level high.

“When we shipped MDK2 there was a large confusion about demos on the platform and we never got a straight answer if demos were allowed. We were not allowed to set the price, Nintendo set the pricing, telling us after a week it would be 1000 points. As well, there was never any discussion of doing a sale or promoting the title. This all contributed to a title we worked very hard on not getting any differentiation from other titles in the WiiWare store. The result was large disappointment with the platform.”

Oster also expressed that whilst he could see the attraction with the Wii, in regards to appeal and accessibility, he feared that the family audience that Nintendo so keenly targeted wouldn’t make purchases beyond the console bundles themselves.

“When the Wii first launched, I didn’t understand it. I thought it was just a gimmick. After playing with it I could see the mass appeal, but I was afraid it would be treated like a toy by the family purchasers, where they would buy the Wii bundle with Wii Sports and never buy another game.

“I think for a lot of the family purchases this was true and a huge number of the Wii units only ever sold one or two games. The initial third party titles didn’t do a great job with the controller implementation and I think that really hurt the perception of third party titles on the Wii as a whole. The end result was a platform where the perception was only Nintendo could make money.”

Such poor experiences with WiiWare, and ill opinion of the Wii, Oster also expresses concern for the direction Nintendo are to take with the Wii U.

“For the Wii U, I once again don’t get it. I’m having a hard time seeing how a tablet controller & console system is going to be revolutionary. I could be wrong, but I think the gaming world has changed irrevocably and there are now two fronts: Triple A console titles which resemble blockbuster movies and freemium/app store titles which are closer to television.

“The triple “A” titles cost a ton to develop and there is a market for the best of the breed, with the major brands doing huge numbers but many titles not even breaking even.

“The freemium/app space has everything from “assware” (my pet name for poor quality freemium titles), up to what I would compare to HBO television titles, which are high production quality and well executed games which sell in the $10-$30 price point. The PC platform bridges both models, which makes it an interesting target to develop for.

“To me, the Wii U doesn’t fit into either model and I see a lot of difficulty for it on either front. The app store/freemium model has redefined consumer pricing expectations, making consumers much less likely to invest $60 in a title without playing it first. The triple “A” model focuses on delivering the experience you expect at the agreed upon price, which is going to be hard to sell conceptually with a new platform like the Wii U.

“I wish Nintendo the best and I hope they can hit big with a major success.”

[Thanks Nintendo World Report]

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