Nintendo Barring Small Developers From WiiWare?

Remember when Nintendo announced WiiWare? Do you recall the grand spiel? WiiWare is a platform for small developers to really get their products out there and truly shine, you don’t need to be a big studio, yadda, yadda, yadda. Of course you do. It’s for this reason that many people got excited about the service; after all, smaller devcos are more likely to create fresh and innovative ideas.

However, it seems like the dream isn’t quite how Nintendo would have you believe. A post has gone up on Xiotex Studios' blog, a uber-tiny developer which throws Nintendo’s “come one, come all” policy into doubt. Apparently, the anonymous poster was invited to a WiiWare summit in London that was aimed at winning support from the vast hordes of Indie and bedroom programmers. Impressed, he duly signed up for the service and awaited Nintendo’s confirmation that his company would be accepted as an Authorized Developer.

Astonishingly, he was informed via email that his company was not a suitable candidate for WiiWare.

The email he was sent reads as follows:

Thank you for your interest for Authorized Developer status for Wii. We have completed our evaluation of your application and are unable to offer your company Authorized Developer status at the present time.

In evaluating developers, Nintendo looks for relevant game development experience. In addition, Nintendo looks for secure business facilities, sufficient equipment and staffing, financial stability and other attributes that would distinguish the developer. Nintendo provides Authorized Developers with highly confidential information and many of Nintendo’s Licensees rely on recommendations and referrals by Nintendo to Authorized Developers. For these reasons, Nintendo exercises a very high level of discretion in approving only a select number of applicants.

In accordance with our policies, we are not able to re-evaluate requests for developer status for at least six months. Again, we appreciate your interest, and welcome any questions or concerns you might have regarding this decision.

Best regards,

Software Development Support Group & Licensing Department
Nintendo of America & Nintendo of Europe

So he was refused because he didn’t have experience – fair enough. Nintendo doesn’t want any old crap on WiiWare (unless it’s crap from companies like Konami, naturally). But here’s the catch, as the poster himself explains:

When I made the application I was already working as a contractor on a Wii title and before that I had worked on GameCube titles - apparently that doesn’t count as relevant experience. Perhaps they only want people who have never worked on Nintendo hardware.

This strikes us as rather strange. For example, Eternity’s Child developer Luc Bernard has practically no proven track record when it comes to making games, yet his project was greenlighted by Nintendo months ago. Surely someone who has actually worked on Nintendo hardware has more of a right to work on WiiWare?

Whatever the reason behind this, it certainly makes a mockery of Nintendo’s promise that WiiWare would be a haven for all talented small-scale companies.