News Article

Microsoft Befuddled by WiiWare

Posted by Damien McFerran

Microsoft's Chris Satchell must be an easily confused guy, because he’s recently gone on record to state that he’s downright stumped by Nintendo’s WiiWare service and the strategy the company is employing when it comes to nurturing developers.

Satchell, who is general manager of Microsoft’s game developer group, unsurprisingly believes that his company’s upcoming XNA service is far superior.

Here’s some of his bewildered ramblings:

I've been a little confused by WiiWare...the more I look at it, the more I'm confused, because it sort of doesn't really look like something for independents.

At best it's what we would call a registered developer programme. It's really a way for you to get hold of dev kits and the normal development environment when you're not signed to a big publisher. Which is very different than what we're doing with XNA, which is you can just go and download the tools and we're going to give you a distribution (platform) and the community will manage it.

We're going to completely enable you, versus 'well, if you kind of work with us we can possibly kind of, back door or grandfather you into some kind of developer programme which is a lot like our professional developer programme’.

So, I'm not actually convinced it's really going to empower the community a whole bunch.

I think probably they do want to enable independent developers. I don't know how much they're succeeding with that, and I don't know if it's going to be the seachange that I'm hoping we'll see with XNA of really empowering the community.

He may have a point. After all, we recently heard from tiny developer Xiotex about Nintendo’s disappointing treatment of indie studios. But this whole situation reminds us of a saying an elderly relative used to spout:

“The further you open the window, the more crap flies in.”

Maybe Nintendo is right to limit the number of small developers on WiiWare? Perhaps Microsoft’s much-hyped XNA service will be awash with terrible quality titles produced by spotty teenagers in their dimly-lit bedrooms?

So long as WiiWare continues to give us games like LostWinds, Toki Tori and Final Fantasy: My Life as a King, we’ll remain blissfully happy.

Source: Spong

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User Comments (46)

i8cookie

#2

i8cookie said:

yeah... two different ways of doing it. Hopefully nintendo will sort out their release date problem, then it will be better i think, not really sure.

DamoAdmin

#3

Damo said:

I think Nintendo's way of doing things is better; they've found a neat 'middle ground' I think.

TomMc

#4

TomMc said:

Wii-ware has already given us some of the best games to download already and Wii-ware has just started while microsoft think that releasing some rubbish is gonna beat wii-ware no way! You can't compete with Final Fantasy CC my life as a king!

DazzaAdmin

#5

Dazza said:

I do have a lot of respect for XBLA, it's brought gamers some classics like Castlevania SOTN, Rez HD and Ikaruga. Not to mention Sega Megadrive ports such as Sonic, Streets of Rage 2 and Golden Axe which all benefit with online scoreboards and co-op. BUT there is a lot of crap on the service too, every other week it is some generic Robotron style game.

The point is that this is Microsoft's flagship DLC service. When you come to look at XNA the situation is far, far worse. Most of the games are ill conceived and half finished. They really aren't for mass public consumption in the way that WiiWare games are.

I do think that XNA has an important place in Microsoft's DLC strategy. As a proofing ground for the 1% of talented developers who might use it and break through into the mainstream. As it stands I don't see XNA being a direct competitor to WiiWare really. What I have seen so far isn't in the same league.

bacchus

#6

bacchus said:

No, Chris Satchell is completely right. Nintendo have adopted an atrocious strategy.
Nevertheless Nintendo will probably still attract plenty of indie developers thanks
to two reasons. Partly thanks to the wii owner demographics, but mainly thanks to the
unique controller.
The reason being that it is much easier to write interesting, unique games when one has a
unique gaming interface to work with.

As for why Nintendo are wrong. (Although I thought it should be obvious)
Consider the comparable situation with films. Any old fool with a film camera
can make a short film and post it on youtube. A lot of them are rubbish, some good.
There are also loads of indie studios which crank out films. Some rubbish, some fantastic.
Then there are the safe, bland and derivative block busters made by the mayor
hollywood studios. Ok. some of those films are good too. Now, suppose the film medium was
controlled in the same way as it for games and we were prevented in from watching anything
other than hollywood films. Surely we only lose from that kind of situation.

Does it matter that crap like "Plan 9 from outer space" was made. No of course not.
You don't have to watch it. However by filtering out all the crub, one filters out
lots of gems as well.

Bensei

#7

Bensei said:

Another reason why I think Wiiware is better is because Wiiware games are perfectly for Casual gamers, and those don't want to pay extra money for going into the internet

Objection

#8

Objection said:

I wish Ninty would do Wiiware like XBL. We'd get more material and the developers would have more freedom. Plus, demos!!!!!!!!!!!

KnucklesSonic8

#9

KnucklesSonic8 said:

IMHO, with a few exceptions here and there, in my eyes, WiiWare surpasses the XBLA in many ways.

Their reasoning behind the success and their confusion with it is quite convoluted.

So, I'm not actually convinced it's really going to empower the community a whole bunch."
^ Oh please.

Phantom5800

#10

Phantom5800 said:

Really? The way I see it is that XNA will be flooded by gamers that think they can make games because they like to play them. It isn't hard to make a cheap little platformer or shooter, but would it be good? Probably not because they are not experienced developers. That is what I like about WiiWare, the selective service stops those cheap little things from being made; not saying that bigger dev's won't put out small crap themselves anyway, but it is less likely.

poggydude

#11

poggydude said:

The are supposedly allowing we move p.v.p. I think the window has been opened too far for even nintendo cause that is crap and it's flyin'

KnucklesSonic8

#12

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Well said, Phantom.

Their imposition of one game per developer per month may seem strict but it certainly helps control Shovelware and allows companies to evaluate their assets more accurately, I guess.

So what if we get some "crappy games" here and there. It's to be expected.

And you really need to define "crappy" anyway, because as one other reader said on the BBDX Review page: One person's crap is another person's treasure.

Just because YOU don't like the game and outright conclude it to be crappy doesn't mean that overall, quality-wise, the game is downright shoddy. There are some, believe it or not, who may, believe it or not, find enjoyment out of alleged "crap titles" such as Cocoto Fishing Master and Critter Round-Up, the latter of which I particularly enjoy myself.

pdrydia

#13

pdrydia said:

So when Xiotex says Nintendo is excluding indies, it's time to take up the sword. (Damn you, Nintendo! That's not what you promised us!)

But when someone from Microsoft says Nintendo might ('possibly, maybe, I dunno, I'm a little confused by their strategy') be excluding indies, obviously he's fulla ...(like XBLA!).

Now I'm confused!

lockelocke

#15

lockelocke said:

I understand Nintendo's approach, it works to ensure quality control. But, I must say, this Microsoft dude has a point. Why not let everyone download development kits, and then select the quality submissions for release. Of course, this could result in too much content coming through to reasonably filter or even look at each game. But...if you're going to claim that you're a forum for independents...

poggydude

#16

poggydude said:

I don't care about crappy titles I care about "we move" i hope there is a system update you can recieve that makes it inviible on your wii shop channel i don't even want to be reminded of it

DEMON212

#17

DEMON212 said:

For online PSN>XBL>NWFC.

For Demo's XBL>PSN.

For downloadable games VC>XBL:A>PSN>WW.

At least for Europe. If we had NA's WW, then WW>PSN.

Vader0954

#18

Vader0954 said:

Just you wait! Wiiware will become everything that makes XNA good and everything that it is not.
His arrogence and belief that piece of **** is called a download service, only to be good because of game demos and geometry wars, is what clouds him of how great Wiiware is and what it will soon become: Better.

Wii>>>>>Xbox.....well, in many ways, at least. :)

Mario64DStyle

#20

Mario64DStyle said:

I could care less about the Xbox.. I don't have one, so I can worry more about what games are coming out for the Wii... And what he just said, is surly not going to just flat out convince me to go buy an Xbox. I'm just fine with woundering what fun games the WW will come out with, and also crappy. Don't act like WW is the only place we have had crappy games fly in. Just go to a local store with video games, and take a look at all those grade C games.

KnucklesSonic8

#22

KnucklesSonic8 said:

@Mario64DStyle: Exactly!

And besides, in my humble opinion, the only "crappy games" on the NA Catalogue of WiiWare games, thus far, is about 10% or even 5% of everything that's released so far. The other 90% - 95% is okay/quality stuff.

And as I said before, what may be deemed as "crappy" to Microsoft, may not be to some select individuals in the market.

Peznaze

#23

Peznaze said:

He does have a point. But then, look at it from the other side. XNA - smaller profit share, much larger pool, your little fish will never even be seen, let alone thrive... Weren't there already lots of reports about how the small developers much preferred WiiWare for just those reasons?

It's true, though. With XNA all you need is a computer and a dream. You and millions of others. TRY to get your game noticed. And if it isn't noticed, you get nothing.

Tim

#24

Tim said:

"The further you open the window, the more crap flies in."

Nintendo had crap flying in before the window was even open. Don't ask me how that is physically possible. Maybe if they open it a little more something good will fly through.

"It's true, though. With XNA all you need is a computer and a dream. You and millions of others. TRY to get your game noticed. And if it isn't noticed, you get nothing." (Peznaze)

That happens to be the way the cookie crumbles. But at least with Microsoft's solution you get the chance to fail.

Personally I think Microsoft should allow the general public to play these XNA games for free, but not allowed to keep it stored for play offline, and have a ranking system that lets the community decide which are good and not. This would make it easy to not bother with the crap and the possibility of promoting some of the good ones into a fully realize XBLA game. I think right now XNA games are closed to the general public and only accessible by XNA subscribers.

konkerdoodle

#25

konkerdoodle said:

As of right now there aren't any WiiWare games rated below 4 on WiWare World's scale. That's pretty good. That means all of the releases have been at least average, or maybe a hair below.

Dokenzz

#26

Dokenzz said:

I don't know, Microsoft is making it difficult to stay with Nintendo.. It'd be an interesting expiermental service I guess, but like Damo said, Nintendo's way is both easier and more efficient

uncle_smuck

#27

uncle_smuck said:

Perhaps one of the reasons XBL has smaller developers is because they can afford to have the crappy games on show. i dont have XBL but isn't there a subscription fee of around £50 quid? Nintendo needs to make a profit on its wii ware games because its online service is free Therefore they only put out quality games. OR games that they are sure to appeal to a certain market EG Pokemon farm and that quiz show game.

Peznaze

#28

Peznaze said:

That's a good point, and worth noting. XNA, as it stands, is extremely limited. Sure, for free you can make games, but in order to play them on the Xbox360 or share them with other people, you've got to pay their $99/year fee. And you can currently only share your games with other people who've paid the $99 (or $49 for six months) fee.

So as it is now, it's no competition for WiiWare. But soon, by year's end, they say, they'll be releasing Zune tools and "will make game distribution on the Xbox 360 much easier with the Xbox LIVE Community Games feature."

We'll see if they've got a better plan then, I suppose.

XCWarrior

#29

XCWarrior said:

I have to agree with Microsoft guy only because WiiWare is being so limited right now. Probably because of the limtited storage and Nintendo hasn't fixed the problem yet. It'll be interesting to see what will happen when or if they actually fix it.

mr_niceguy

#30

mr_niceguy said:

Funny, I thought XNA was different from XBLA...

Oh well, I too have great respect for XBLA. In fact, it's the main reason I want an Xbox 360, to be honest with you, so I can play games like N+ , Aces Of The Galaxy, and Penny Arcade Adventures and a whole list of other games, too. Of course that list doesn't even compare to the list of Wii Ware games that I want, but the again, most of the games on my Wiiware list aren't out yet, and I don't have the space even if they were, so I guess it all balances out now doesn't it?

mr_niceguy

#31

mr_niceguy said:

I don't think they are going to get that many people going to their service with a wierd yellow thing dressed as a pimp being the first thing you see the moment you enter the site...

megacody

#32

megacody said:

I think the situation is childish. I also think it's stupid, and ballsy. But I think what their doing is good to indie developers. It gives them a chance to shine, but the idea doesn't seem very fool proof. I don't hate the idea of indie developers overall, I just can't trust them. I'd rather prefer games submitted by Nintendo, than unfamiliar people with a XNA account. Who knows? Microsoft was right about online, while Nintendo shunned the idea. This COULD have a positive impact for XBLA.

Virus

#33

Virus said:

I think the main wrong Nintendo committed was not allowing every darn person have a dev kit, yet I stand by their decision. Give everybody a dev kit and things will be abused and secrets be given out and hardware sold to others. So a few people with gems will be missed, but if they truly have gems, they can pitch the idea to a larger company and eventually get it made.

As for WiiWare quality, I think we're judging it far too early. We have barely had it for a month. Give it at least two more before you decide to send it to the gullotine. Instant gratification will not be had from this platform.

And as for the XNA, I think it'll be a lot like the games found on Newgrounds or any other flash game site. There'll be great games on there, but I almost guarantee there'll be thrice as many half-arsed games (if not more). I'm sure WiiWare will offer more quality control even if it allows games such as Protothea. (Also, on a side note, WiiWare's games' quality is up to debate. Many other sites found Pop to be crap but Critter Round Up to be good.)

dark_moogle

#34

dark_moogle said:

To me it sounds like Satchell is trying to compare WiiWare and XNA to something like 'Hollywood budget movies' vs 'Youtube'

But hey, maybe I'm just crazy and missing the point

Laxiom

#35

Laxiom said:

im not a programmer so i can only speak as a consumer. id rather deal with fewer good games than more crap. and i dont really care whose making the games as long as there quality titles.

wasnt World of Goo made by 2 people? that got passed by nintendo, so im sure you will be considered by nintendo if you have a good product.
and if your not accepted, then theres always the net. theres plenty of space there for sub par devs to dump there name.

Tim

#36

Tim said:

Some of you seem to be confused with XBLA and XNA and it is understandable because there is a fuzzy line drawn between the two and you might not have an XBOX. XBLA is the commercial service that you would buy commercial games from much like you do with WiiWare. XNA is like the homebrew version of the commercial service but is limited to XNA subscribers. You don't need to have a XNA or gold membership to have access to XBLA.

Demonic_St33V

#37

Demonic_St33V said:

There's a lot MS doesn't get..... Like the importance of keeping their internal memos..... well, internal (long story, short version being: never ask a Microsoft rep a question regarding an internal memo that was never supposed to go public at a trade show panel discussion unless you want to see them have a heart attack).

XNA sounds like it could have some real potential, but without policing potential developers and releases the way Nintendo does..... insert sound of toilet flushing followed by liberal use of plunger here Crap clog, Ph33r da over-flow of shovelware.

whalleywhat

#38

whalleywhat said:

I thought he was gonna have some valid criticisms, but it was really just him trying to convince Devs "Hey, I know we massively cut your share of XBLA profits and are going to remove your games if they don't achieve certain sales or review scores, but we da best! Please don't make good games for Nintendo!!"

Ness012345

#39

Ness012345 said:

Ah... Fanboyism at it's finest. I love how many of these people, as someone said, is now defending Nintendo for it's strict policies of letting indie developers put out their game only because Microsoft is criticizing it, yet no more than a week ago the majority of the people were angry at Nintendo for it.

And keep in mind that the Wiiware is still very new. That does not mean it's excluded from getting crappy games, it just hasn't had the chance yet.

And whose to say that Microsofts new idea isn't going to give way to the next big thing? You all seem to be forgetting that some of Wiiware's titles are also by indie developers, they just have to go through a more difficult entrance to get their game out there. You all are so quick to right this idea off ,yet you have yet to see what may be put out.

Whose to say the next big thing may not service on XNA? It'd be no different than when an indie flash game appears on the net or cel-phone, and suddenly finds it's self on major consoles.

Virus

#40

Virus said:

@Ness012345

You have a good point, I'll give you that, but maybe you should look at the claims that mirror yours. WiiWare is new, so who's to say it isn't the next big thing? And who's to say an excellent gem on XNA will not be overlooked because it's surrounded by shovelware?

And let me point this out since you seem to like the idea: XNA might host the next big thing that gains huge popularity (emphasis on "might") but WiiWare has already done that. It has displayed one of the indie success stories and now that game is out-selling many of its competitors.

That game is Defend Your Castle. I respect your courage to make a point though. ;)

MultiPLAYA79

#41

MultiPLAYA79 said:

I like Wiiware so far as well (just finished Lost Winds - pretty cool) but i must admit XBLA PWNS Wiiware. Period. At least they have demos so you can try before you buy. Online play as well. Nuff said.

zombiefrank

#43

zombiefrank said:

I have to agree, XBLA is definitely much stronger than Wii's online game offerings. I see that some people think XNA is too lenient, therefore it would be difficult to find a hidden gem amongst them. Then I realized that at least I have options. Im a recent Wii owner, I also have owned a 360 since launch, but this whole "gem" theory really makes me sad. It almost feels like nintendo owners are jaded gamers anticipating crap to be released, in hopes that a decent game may surface. I participated in the XNA demo period and found that many of the titles were of an excellent and innovative quality. Thing is though, I do not really see services such as XNA and Wiiware as a make or break deal for a new console buyer. In fact, Im actually just Kind of tired of the whole my system is better than yours, "console wars" mentality. It is just too juvenile and annoying, just play the damn games and enjoy yourself
DEMON212:
You are surely joking right, online, PSN>XBL...Sorry but..NO! Really though just..just No im sorry..
Virus, Defend Your Castle, while cute and fun, is just kind of a meh title.

Quimby

#44

Quimby said:

Ah... Some excellent points made all through this topic. Except for konkerdoodle... what!?
All and all, from a developers standpoint, I would go for XNA.
As Tim said, at least they would have the chance to fail.
And for all those arguing that Nintendos established only policy filtering out crap, there are hundreds of developers currently doing "It's not an add, it's a game based on (blank)" promotional games on mobile phones that would easily meet Nintys requirements and I fear they will come running to WW.
Major League Eating anyone?
And Zombiefrank is right, its time we gave up the age old fanboy Wii/360 console wars and agree that it doesnt really matter as long as the games are fun and as long as you don't play a Playstation machine. :-)

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