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Steel Penny Games Update - Part 2

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Jason Hughes explains what he really meant to say in his last blog entry.

You might remember that we reported on the rant Jason Hughes of WiiWare developer Steel Penny Games went on during his recent blog post. Well Jason just posted a new entry in an attempt to set the record straight as to exactly what he was trying to get across in his last blog post. It seems his rant wasn't a rant after all.

Hooboy... looks like some folks picked up on the last post and got the wrong idea. I want to first be clear to anyone who didn't realize I was taking a poke at ourselves as much as anyone else when expressing disappointment about B&S's performance. We made the game, and in a sense it was an experiment (I'll explain below), but there's nobody to blame for the final product except us. We built something from nothing and shipped it. Whether it was a blockbuster or not, I'm very proud of completing what I started. That's huge.

Anyone who kills themselves for a year or so on a project, of course, will want it to do well and is emotionally invested in the outcome, even if they're just an employee of a big company. To people who buy games, it's just another title on a list, but to the developer it's a piece of your life you will never get back. It's tough to explain to someone who isn't in the industry and hasn't had to make hard choices about how many years they have to invest in each endeavor, because so many games will stretch on for 3... 5... 9 years? And in the end, you hope it wasn't wasted. As a principal of a tiny studio, it's an even bigger part of your life because there's the ever-present guilt of seeing your family (and your partner's family) suffer to chase the dream.

And truth be told, if had the runway left to really polish the game (it's very expensive to fund a game--don't try this at home kids!), it would have been prettier and had a better UI and more gameplay modes and better rendering tech. But it is what it is. Nintendo allows re-releases of titles and if there was any spare time to put into it, I'd be tinkering with the game. Maybe someday... For the time being, we have to pay off our debts and keep clothes on the kids and the wives from leaving us.

As for the grand experiement gone awry, we drank the kool-aid. We were one of the early indie development houses to sign on with Nintendo to do WiiWare, and at the time, nobody knew what kind of crowd would surface to buy games there. It was very exciting, and to know there were 20 million or so Wii units in the world at that time meant that the market had incredible potential. So, we went forward with a design that I thought would appeal to the typical Wii user. In hindsight, to my horror, this was all wrong. The typical Wii user doesn't have any idea that the Wii can connect to the internet. The crowd that gravitates toward WiiWare is actually fairly hardcore, and a very small segment overall. In essence, we're trying to sell lemonaide in a biker bar. Heh.

In a way, I'm thankful we had the turbulence now while the stakes are still small (in absolute terms) and we can recover from it, learn what mistakes we made, and move forward from the experience a richer development house. There's two things that are important in games: shipping and sales. We got one thing right, and that's something. Now to work on the other.


We'll have more information on any future Steel Penny developments as it becomes available and hopefully it won't be too long before we hear about their next WiiWare project.


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User Comments (15)



Sean_Aaron said:

Well, to be fair he's not completely correct there because I don't think "hardcore" gamers (when will it end?) are keeping My Aquarium and other questionable titles in the top 5 week after week.

Certainly the people who do buy a lot of WiiWare have some kind of pathology and I'd be interested to get a psychological profile from a professional familiar with the dark reaches of the human psyche. Then I might find a cure for my regular points buying, though I'm not sure I really want one...



Corbs said:

Just from looking at the Top 20 each week, I'm not sure how you could say that the WiiWare crowd is mostly "hardcore" gamers.



KDR_11k said:

I think many people don't have broadband, WiFi and a desire to take the console online (though the shop channel does taunt you with its presence even if you don't connect to the internet...). Either way I agree that any claims that the market is hardcore are instantly invalidated by the presence of My Aquarium.

Maybe they just went in wrong by misjudging what a casual game is? The game wasn't even a critical darling that people didn't buy, it was panned by critics and ignored by the public.



Wiiloveit said:

I feel kinda bad to say this, because they probably get it quite a lot, but anyway: hows about a new Crash Bandicoot?!



Jockolantern said:

I like Bruiser & Scratch, for it's worth. For hardcore puzzler fans, it's a good time. Looking forward to what Steel Penny comes up with next.



Wiiloveit said:

@Blaze: I can see why you'd put it at the same level as Spyro, but not Croc! Croc was overrated IMO. If the guys made a sequel to Crash Bandicoot Warped, that would be my instant WiiWare favourite.




I am sort of a Crash fan. However, I didn't feel compelled to purchase any of the wii titles. My favourite was Crash Nitro Kart funnily enough!

I didn't go for Bruiser and Scratch despite previously having it on my radar.

As for them saying wiiware purchasers are largely "hardcore", it shows a worrying lack of knowledge by Steel Penny. They surely should do their reasearch better on the cosumer they are trying to attract surely?!



Demonic_St33V said:

"The typical Wii user doesn't have any idea that the Wii can connect to the internet."

Interestingly enough I was talking to a colleague of mine at work near the end of last year. We were comparing or game collections, I mentioned a couple of my favorite Wii titles... A couple of which were WiiWare games. Much to my shock and horror, she not only had never even visited the Wii shop channel, she didn't even know her Wii had built in WiFi.

I teased her mercilessly about it and still to this day my first response to any question she asks at the office is "Did you read the manual?"



dogsoldier said:

The Wii's box is to blame! -
just compare it to the packaging of the N64 - it should highlight its major features in big writing so the customers knows it plays game cube games and connects to the internet. Everyone knows that 'everyone' doesn't bother reading manuals.



Corbs said:

My 84 year old grandmother has the internet. There's no reason in today's world that has the type of information available at your fingertips via the internet that people shouldn't be familiar with the products they're buying. Be that game systems or food processors. Even without a manual.



Objection said:

I do think he's partially right. A person who knows enough about tech or video games (AKA more likely to be "hardcore" versus casual) is more likely to have figured out how to do all the wonderful online Wii things. So the audience for WW/VC is likely more hardcore than the Wii retail audience.



brooks83 said:

I'm actually tempted to download this game now. KS8 and a few others have said it is good, and I like puzzle games...maybe next time I get Wii points I'll check it out.



hamispink said:

@ blaze: I loved both the nintendo and sony platformers in their own rights, i think that mario 64 wasnt as good as say crash warped or spyro year of the dragon simply because it was made at a time when a good 3-d platformer was simply a very rare game type (save jumping flash), mario did it the very best it could at the time but games like spyro, and donkeykong 64, fixed the camera and movement issues found in the earlier games.
you have to look at the evolution of the genre and realize that the games that were simply amazing at the time and really still are, just cant match up quite as well with it's new competition

P.S. Any crash or spyro game that is made today is simply horrible in my eyes made by the new developers

P.P.S. Sorry about that everyone, had to get that off my chest



megatron said:

all this said, i bought the game and i still feel ripped off.
i suppose if they had sold the game to twice as many people for half as much they still wouldn't have improved their finances. they might have earned themselves some more repeat customers though.

also, i played an absolutely terrible spyro game on the ps2 (i think). the music cut off, there were random lines from the characters to the sky... that's the only spyro game i have ever played though.

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