News Article

WiiWare Threshold Is Really About Quality Control

Posted by Darren Calvert

It’s all about stomping down on shovelware declares mysterious WiiWare developer.

Following this morning’s revelation about WiiWare sales targets as told to Kotaku the mysterious NDA breaking WiiWare developer has contacted Eurogamer in order to set the record straight:

I'm concerned this recent threshold news is generating an artificially negative wave of press. The spirit of the threshold was never to screw the developer - it was, as far as I can tell, a quality control mechanism to prevent the service from getting overrun with a bunch of crappy games.

Once the threshold is crossed, the developer is retroactively paid for every single unit sold below the threshold. I know there has been confusion on that point in the past.

From the stats I've seen and heard developers report, the threshold is easily surpassed within the first day, or at least the first week, for many games.

I hear rumours within the dev community that Nintendo recognises a problem here, where occasionally an entirely legitimate game just doesn't make it, and is looking for a way to make exceptions, to ensure small devs are paid even if the threshold is not reached. Just rumours though, so who knows.

I just fear this is one of those things that sounds a lot more evil than it actually is.

If the intention really is to cut down on ‘crappy’ games then perhaps the bright sparks at Nintendo should judge a game by the Metacritic weighted average rather than place so much faith in the buying habits of WiiWare consumers? After all history has shown us time and time again that not all innovative, quality games manage to generate the sales expected – why should this be any different on WiiWare?

This is a flagrantly unfair policy that punishes earnest indie developers who have often made great personal sacrifices to release their wares on the WiiWare service. In most cases Nintendo are not helping to market the games and there is no way to demo WiiWare games before buying. Who could blame these developers who get stung by this for jumping ship and taking their talent to XBLA or PSN instead?

[via eurogamer.net]

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User Comments (73)

Chunky_Droid

#1

Chunky_Droid said:

How is this unfair? 90% of games meet the threshold in the first day anyway, so don't blame Nintendo if the public don't buy games that are great, with over 8 million VC downloads, it shouldn't take long for most WiiWare titles to reach the 5000 or whatever it is, even if it takes a year.

Nintendo's a business remember

Also, if you can download WiiWare games, then chances are you've already downloaded the Nintendo channel, which hosts videos of (as far as I know) all of the WiiWare games, how else would you like them seen advertised? Walk into your local Gamestop and have a big poster saying 'Go home and download this!'?

As the guy said, it sounds more evil than what it really is, and you're not helping matters.

Stuffgamer1

#2

Stuffgamer1 said:

If you can't get a lousy 4000-6000 downloads on a system that has millions of people using the download service, your game just about HAS to suck! I find it very hard to believe that legitimate small developers with good games are failing to sell enough downloads to make money.

Gamestop SHOULD advertise download games, just to get people to buy Nintendo Points cards. I'm pretty sure it'd help everybody.

Adam

#3

Adam said:

It sounds less evil than it really is, to me. There are much more effective ways of quality control. Nintendo needs to be more proactive and check out design documents, etc. Make sure it's good before it hits the service. The Nintendo Seal of Quality used to mean just this. Why no longer?

Lack of demos and videos on the shop channel -- and remember that most buyers see games only through this window -- also hurts indie developers who can barely afford to make the game, much less advertise it. It would take so little effort for Nintendo to ask for a trailer for each game and post it with the screenshots for each game. That would go a huge way toward helping the games sell.

But no, Nintendo shouldn't be asked to put forth even minimal effort. We should just condone the rich robbing the poor.

@Stuffgamer1
Do you really think they make anything off of those cards? The cards cost their exact price. Advertising them isn't worth it because it's not that profitable -- certainly not compared to their used game market, which the DLC market is eventually going to have a negative effect on.

warioswoods

#4

warioswoods said:

"If the intention really is to cut down on ‘crappy’ games then perhaps the bright sparks at Nintendo should judge a game by the Metacritic weighted average rather than place so much faith in the buying habits of WiiWare consumers?"

Ugh, I hope that was just humor. Don't get me started on Metacritic. Sure, that's a good place to look for a general overview of any game in an established core genre, but often all you'll learn there when you look up a truly original title is just how clueless most of the gaming press can be at judging software that doesn't fit the interests of self-proclaimed "hardcore" gamers.

Chunky_Droid

#5

Chunky_Droid said:

@Adam: Last time I checked the Nintendo channel had videos for stacks of WiiWare games, generally they release a new one for whatever game came out that week.

@Stuffgamer1: I'm all for places like Gamestop to have advertisements to make people aware they can download games, and buy the points to do so, but not an advertisement telling people to basically go home and download Lost Winds, it wouldn't make much sense in that respect.

DazzaAdmin

#6

Dazza said:

@warioswoods - I am being facetious of course, but my point is still valid. Poor sales do not equal a crappy game. Adam (comment #3) makes a good point, is there really not a better way of determining what the crappy games are prior to inflicting them on the WiiWare buying public?

Hardy83

#7

Hardy83 said:

"In most cases Nintendo are not helping to market the games and there is no way to demo WiiWare games before buying."

This is my main beef.
If NIntendo (In North America at least) want games to meet a certain threshold then Nintendo should start giving release dates for DLC, and tell the developers WAY ahead of time to at least have even a mild internet advertising.

Something.
No demos, no promotions, nothing. How are these game suppose to meet threshold when you don't give them a chance?

Also LOL at Nintendo doing quality control. Where's the control for DSiWare or the physical games? Oh wait. It's easier to punish small developers then yourselves and big companies that have one or two AAA games you want and will accept their 100 F games.

thewiirocks

#9

thewiirocks said:

This is a flagrantly unfair policy that punishes earnest indie developers who have often made great personal sacrifices to release their wares on the WiiWare service.

Seriously? This entire story is the biggest non-issue in history! We're talking about a service that is growing in popularity by the day. A service where (by the admission of the source) provides far more than enough revenue opportunity to meet these fairly mediocre goals.

I hear rumours within the dev community that Nintendo recognises a problem here, where occasionally an entirely legitimate game just doesn't make it, and is looking for a way to make exceptions, to ensure small devs are paid even if the threshold is not reached.

I don't think this is about "not making it". We're talking about a 2 year period in which to "make it". If you can't make 6,000 sales in 2 years, you've got problems far worse than Nintendo's policies. For one, you've got no revenue to speak of. Even without Nintendo's policies.

More likely, exceptions to the policy would be about supporting the small developers. Providing the otherwise mediocre funds might keep such a developer up and running long enough to supply enough games to make them profitable. They'll still meet Nintendo's goals eventually (probably inside a few months of each release), but the exception might allow them to produce more content while they wait.

That being said, I don't see that happening much. Maybe someone like BPlus would fall in that category. But otherwise, can't think of anyone who would thread that needle.

If you really want Nintendo to support the small time developer, get them to change their office policy & their lengthy review policies for devkit access. Even a cut-down devkit with easy access could be super-useful for a small-time developer looking to do an innovative 2D game.

warioswoods

#10

warioswoods said:

@Dazza
Yeah, in that case I do agree; it seems as if they put all their faith in word-of-mouth, believing essentially that a great game will always end up with high sales once people slowly tell friends about it, etc.

DazzaAdmin

#11

Dazza said:

@thewiirocks - let's put it this way, a lot of indie WiiWare devs talk to Nintendo Life off the record about this sort of thing. Not naming any names, but you would be surprised if you knew what games have failed to meet this target. I am not talking about crappy games either, some have been quite well regarded by readers here.

You basically get one week to make most of your sales on WiiWare, very quickly after that unless your game is Mega Man 9 it begins to fade into obscurity VERY quickly. It's all about being noticed on the landing page of the Wii Shop. There is no chance to make up the remaining sales if after several months you have only managed to reach 50% of the threshold.

Chunky_Droid

#12

Chunky_Droid said:

Being an indie developer in the first place is a risky business. What most people don't seem to get is that the threshold is seriously not that big, and the fact that Nintendo isn't taking any of these games off the server means that every game will meet the threshold.

All the developers understand that Nintendo is paying for server costs, and publishing the games themselves, so of course a threshold will ensure they at least get those costs back before they start paying the indie developer.

Same would go for a retail game like The Conduit, I'm sure SEGA will make more money out of that game than High Voltage software.

And as far as letting the indie developers know to put a bit of advertising up, why wouldn't they to begin with? You'd be an idiot not to.

I'm sorry guys, I really don't see the problem in this.

CorbsAdmin

#13

Corbs said:

I don't like this method of quality control and I think it stifles creativity, which is the main selling point of the digital downloads in the first place. I won't mention any names either, but a couple of the games that I really enjoyed on the WiiWare service have failed to meet the threshold and I find that sad.

I just hope some of these up-and-coming developers don't take a good long look at some of the garbage that's currently sticking on the Top 20 each week and start copying it since it appears a "safe" choice.

I realize that gaming is a business, but it doesn't necessarily have to be an ugly business in the process. Especially not considering Nintendo is actually making money on each Wii system sold, whereas the other companies are not. I could at least understand Sony and Microsoft making use of a quality control method like this, but not Nintendo.

Chunky_Droid

#14

Chunky_Droid said:

Is it necessarily ugly if the developers know their targets? Or are we saying that Nintendo didn't let in on this threshold until after the games were released?

I don't think Nintendo's made any money off their consoles since the SNES days either, which was the last time they dominated the market. I don't know what point this makes but I guess it's an observation lol

CorbsAdmin

#15

Corbs said:

The Top 20 speaks for itself as far as quality control goes. I just feel that there's got to be a better way to do it than to have a developer put the kind of money they put into these games only to not get one red cent back. That's not right. Even if they did know it ahead of time. Many of these guys are so desperate to break into the business, they'll sign anything, just like many of these young musical acts who get taken out of their desperation to get a recording contract.

Ian_Daemon

#16

Ian_Daemon said:

"...policy that punishes earnest indie developers who have often made great personal sacrifices to release their wares on the WiiWare service..."
Uh, I wouldn't call the WiiWare Sales Threshold a "flagrantly unfair policy", but I do agree with your comment about marketing/demos.

KDR_11k

#17

KDR_11k said:

If the intention really is to cut down on ‘crappy’ games then perhaps the bright sparks at Nintendo should judge a game by the Metacritic weighted average rather than place so much faith in the buying habits of WiiWare consumers?

Er, no. Metacritic fails for Wii games because you can be damn sure a large number of reviewers will push the hardcore agenda and call anything crap that isn't aimed specifically at them. My Aquarium has an average below 50% yet there's obviously a large number of people who want a virtual fishtank on their TV (as if the number of recorded fishtanks on DVD wasn't evidence enough). I don't think reviewers are a better measure of what's good than what people actually buy, especially when it comes to games not aimed at the audience the reviewers represent.

Plus you wouldn't want to give an oligarchy of reviewers that much power over your business.

I am not talking about crappy games either, some have been quite well regarded by readers here.

I'm afraid I'll have to ask for at least some more specifics than that (especially on how high they went in the charts) since "some have been quite well regarded by readers here" is a standard that even Niki passes. Of course I suspect Toki Tori is below the threshold and probably Lit too but I'd rather know if your comment applies to games that actually charted decently or if it was about games that didn't have much presence there and thus lost most of their exposure as they dropped off the front page. I also find your example of Megaman 9 curious since that fell off the charts some time ago already which doesn't exactly make it sound like a long time seller.

Chunky_Droid

#18

Chunky_Droid said:

I can see how this is the same as the music industry, and I guess also these guys have to compete with the VC, of which personally I own 5 WiiWare games and 50 VC games. So I can see how they'd struggle from that perspective.

I didn't realise 6000 downloads was really that hard to achieve.

But asking Nintendo to advertise these 5 - 10 dollar games, when they barely advertise their own first party games might seem a bit much, at least they put stuff on the Nintendo channel for them.

CorbsAdmin

#19

Corbs said:

You also have to consider how few a percentage of the people that own a Wii actually have their system connected to the internet. I had no idea the percentage was as low as it is. It's no wonder many of these titles struggle to meet what would seem a very reasonable sales requirement.

While I'm not sure asking Nintendo to advertise these games is the answer, I do think there should be a way to demo the games on the WiiWare and DSiWare services. Now whether that will ever happen remains to be seen.

KDR_11k

#20

KDR_11k said:

I don't think the threshold is terribly punishing, a game with sales lower than that is a disaster anyway and whether you get that bit of money doesn't really matter at that point. I don't think it's possible to develop a game on a budget that can even be regained to a decent degree with sales below the threshold. Swords and Soldiers has a 6 man team (using that as an example since the interview showed up on the PAL Nintendo Channel last Friday), they couldn't pay more than 2-3 months' payrolls with sub-threshold money anyway.

warioswoods

#21

warioswoods said:

@KDR_11k

You and I are in complete agreement with regards to Metacritic. The vast majority of gaming publications are really disguised lifestyle magazines for a very particular demographic that calls itself "hardcore," and their reviews are essentially just judgments of how well games suit the preferences of that predominantly young male demographic, rather than intelligent reflections on the quality and ingenuity of games. Metacritic just makes matters even worse by stamping some illusion of objectivity onto the convergence of scores from these often terribly written reviews. I'm so tired of hearing Metacritic referred to as some real measure of quality games on a system (I'm looking at you, Edge).

Chunky_Droid

#22

Chunky_Droid said:

Last I looked 40% of Wii's were connected, if that number is still true that's well over 15 million Wiis connected to the internet.

Perhaps that number's changed? It was back in 2008, but still.

I do also agree that a demo service would be nice, at least we can demo DS games so hopefully Nintendo will have something in store.

thewiirocks

#23

thewiirocks said:

@Dazza & @Corbie - If you have info that we're not aware of, then I can accept some developers haven't met the targets. However, I would still reiterate that they are making no money, regardless of Nintendo's policies. If you can't hit 6,000, you've got very deep problems.

That being said, I do think there needs to be more of an advertising push. I've seen plenty of Wii owners who can't seem to be bothered to hook their Wii up to the Internet. Drives me batty. Especially when I sit there and tell them about all the great games available. Often times they have a 360 or PS3 hooked up, why not their Wii?

Bah, probably too many things to keep track of. The core message of the platform comes through Wii Sports and Wii Play. I suppose that message obscures the idea that the console has a relatively sophisticated online presence.

CorbsAdmin

#24

Corbs said:

I just think a company like Nintendo could come up with a better quality control solution than a sales threshold. But then again, we're seeing a lot of shovelware anyway, so maybe it wouldn't make a difference either way. :)

KDR_11k

#25

KDR_11k said:

A point about sales numbers stifling creativity, while encouraging creativity is nice it's better to encourage GOOD creativity. People like B+ think that just innovating is enough to be good but not every idea is good. What the sales threshold does is require devs to put their creativity to work on things that people actually want. That's what the Wii was all about, utilizing creativity to make something that appeals to people who were left cold by the standard rehashes. Meanwhile artsy games continue to fall flat despite having tons of innovation. It's not about how much you invent, it's about WHAT you invent. Without selection pressure the offerings on WiiWare will not evolve in the direction that benefits the players.

thewiirocks

#26

thewiirocks said:

@Corbie - It probably all relates back to the NES in the 80's. Remember the crash of '83? And how Nintendo got around that problem by limiting the number of NES releases per year? Same idea, methinks. Except that this idea doesn't fit Iwata's vision for Indie gaming on the Wii.

Interestingly, there are a lot of parallels between the NES and the Wii. Not all of which are still applicable...

calculon

#27

calculon said:

@The admins:

Even if the percentage connected online was 0.1% that'd be a potential audience of what, 50000 potential users of the WiiWare service. Now let's say 80% of them are idiots or ignorant and don't care about WiiWare - that means we're left with 10,000 purchasers - sure that's pretty close to the bone but they're sufficient to meet the criteria even though they are pretty extreme figures. I reckon the connected percentage is much higher and I doubt those connected are that dumb or ignorant enough to not know about WiiWare if they view websites like IGN or NIntendo Life so I think most of these devs have a good chance of meeting the criteria.

Also, what the hell are you guys on about when you mention developers not reaching target? According to Nintendo the target end is 2 years - WiiWare is far from 2 years old. Even in a worst case scenario, I doubt Nintendo are going to leave anyone high and dry - they'll probably offer a smaller potion of the proceeds though. Carelessly throwing potential business away is not Nintendo's practice.

To be honest I can guess who your WiiWare dev contacts are and I don't care a damn about them because they're already shown how shallow they are. If their game is failing to see it's potential it's NOT just because of Nintendo. In fact probably the worst culprit for a game's culture is spawned by sites just like this: word of mouth. Lots of negative or ignorant commentary tends to destroy and prospects of success and neither your site nor any other method of advertising will overcome a barrage of negative opinion about a game. It's not your fault but unfortunately it's a by-product of opening up the floor to end-users by letting them comment on your forums and articles.

Might I also suggest you put a bit more effort into pushing your site as a medium to promote WiiWare? Your site - which fails to appear on the first page of Google when I search of Nintendo WiiWare - fails to inform people about the product then the purpose of your site is moot. Knowledge after all is power and the more power to the people the more sales to the developer.

Pushing this sort of negative press out is incredibly damaging and basically you're contradicting everything that others are trying to put right. If you're not interested in WiiWare then don't cover it, otherwise stop skewing the facts.

CorbsAdmin

#28

Corbs said:

I was just thinking about Nintendo's strict licensing during the NES days. I guess if it worked then, it will work now. I would just hate to see a lot of developers take the "safe" route due to this threshold.

Knux

#30

Knux said:

@Corbie I agree this sounds just like the NES era. Which is not good. Why are the majority of people on WiiWare buying shovelware like Pong Toss and games like Toki Tori are unpopular?

CorbsAdmin

#31

Corbs said:

@ Calculon - No one is trying to save the world, or Nintendo for that matter, we're just discussing the possibility of a better alternative for quality control that won't put as much pressure on these WiiWare and DSiWare developers. The whole push for these services was to keep development cost and risk down so that developers could afford to be more creative and take more risks, yet this threshold seems to contradict that very theme. Not to mention that this quality control measure isn't exactly working very well to begin with. :D

KDR_11k

#32

KDR_11k said:

In fact probably the worst culprit for a game's culture is spawned by sites just like this: word of mouth. Lots of negative or ignorant commentary tends to destroy and prospects of success

Wait, how's that a bad thing? When tons of people go "this game sucked and I regret buying it" with sales dropping like a rock can one really argue that they are wrong and the game should be successful instead?

eugenewrayburn

#33

eugenewrayburn said:

who could blame these developers who get stung by this for jumping ship and taking their talent to XBLA or PSN instead?***

Why worry so much? If they are making money, they will keep on making games. Look at Hudson, apparently they have not been 'stung', eh? The market will take care of itself, they can sign a contract with whoever they want to release a game, stay out of it and print the news, previews, and reviews.

CorbsAdmin

#34

Corbs said:

I'd rather see them on Xbox Live anyway, personally. High definition visuals and you can try before you buy. :D

DazzaAdmin

#35

Dazza said:

@calculon - Might I also suggest you put a bit more effort into pushing your site as a medium to promote WiiWare?

I'd argue that we've done more than most to promote the WiiWare service. We're very positive about the service as a concept, and we're 100% behind indies who bust a gut to try and bring us something fresh and innovative. We're even positive about indies who stumble and fail on their first attempt.

At the end of the day someone has to root for the little guy. Big companies like Capcom, Hudson, Gameloft, etc have nothing to fear from this policy, it's the indie start-ups who are going to suffer and bail out... I would argue that the WiiWare service would be a far duller place without them.

Also, what the hell are you guys on about when you mention developers not reaching target? According to Nintendo the target end is 2 years

The picture we are getting from devs is that the majority of the sales are made in week one. After that sales can pretty much tail off completely. There is no chance of making the volume of sales needed organically over the next 12-18 months to meet the threshold now. That's it, game over!

CorbsAdmin

#36

Corbs said:

I think Calculon just woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. Try eating one of those little cookies with the brightly-colored sprinklies on it. That always works for me. :D

Oh and type in WiiWare, WiiWare Reviews, or Virtual Console Reviews and we're on the first page. Top spot in a few of them. :P

Digiki

#37

Digiki said:

Developers know about this before they release their games, so it's not really evil. Of course it's a terrible method of quality control.

Kid_A

#38

Kid_A said:

I think its pretty fair--it forces the developer to put some real effort into the game. Yes, there's an awful lot of junk on wiiware, but just think of how much MORE junk there would be without it! (oh and I'm writing this on my DSi!! How cool is that!

JohnshiBRPG

#39

JohnshiBRPG said:

I would want to start at Nintendo before I could be able to develop Wiiware or DSiWare games.

zane

#40

zane said:

@corbie - I'd rather see them on Xbox Live anyway, personally. High definition visuals and you can try before you buy.

Is this a joke?

CorbsAdmin

#41

Corbs said:

Nope, I'm a huge Xbox 360 fanboy, didn't you know? I own two of them. :P

But to be serious for one tiny moment, I do love the high-definition visuals and the ability to try the games before I buy them, but I've enjoyed what the WiiWare service has brought so far and I look forward to the future of the service.

Adam

#42

Adam said:

HD doesn't matter to me, but the fact that you can download demos is a huge plus and no joking matter! I don't personally care for most of XBLA's selection, but at least I can find that out via demos rather than spending who knows how much on any game that looks good or reviews well.

Objection

#43

Objection said:

What do you need 2 for? As for the article, demos would certainly help. We have DS demos and I can't imagine that they're much smaller (file size wise) than a wiiware demo could be. Just saying...

CorbsAdmin

#44

Corbs said:

Oh I have a US Xbox 360 and a Japanese Xbox 360 for my shooters. I should have clarified that. :)

Adam

#46

Adam said:

Tangent alert! Tangent alert!

I wouldn't have thought the Japanese 360 would have many exclusives at all. Man, Japan gets everything, even on the systems they don't buy!! Anyway, what good shooters are on their version of the system? The American 360 doesn't seem to have that much, unless you count Ikaruga, but I'd rather play it on Wii via the Cube disc since that is generally the system I play shooters on (thanks VC!).

pixelman

#47

pixelman said:

Hmm, 5000 shouldn't be that hard to meet, but honestly, why don't they put that kind of goal on the trashy retail games instead of WiiWare? It's more harmful to the company to let this horrible eye-catching shovelware get into casual people's homes than WiiWare games, which are usually downloaded by more hardcore gamers who read reviews before downloading games anyway.

To me, Nintendo is turning into a bunch of snobs.

CorbsAdmin

#48

Corbs said:

Deathsmiles is coming in 3 days to the Xbox 360 in Japan and I already have it pre-ordered through Play-Asia. There's also Dodonpachi DaiOuJou, Raiden IV, and Ketsui is coming soon as well. Oh and don't miss Otomedius Gorgeous, which is basically a lot like games in the Parodius series.

Adam

#49

Adam said:

Raiden IV is the bee's knees. I rented it for PS2, and later the same night I saw it for $5 used. Stupid me thought, "Well, I already rented it. Might as well wait and see if it's good now." Next day I went to buy it and someone smarter than me had of course already nabbed it. :(

Kriqxz

#50

Kriqxz said:

Honestly, if a developer cannot push 6000 units in N.A. in 2 years, they're not making money off that game anyway. 6000 is almost nothing, and that's the highest threshold. The money Ninty keeps is just the recovery of losses they could've made had they released a different game that would've sold 6000+ units.

And from a development standpoint, the score on metacritic is irrelevant. Developers make games to make money. Nintendo just want's to stop cheapskates from making a quick buck at their expense. They have a set number of games to release each week (so they don't flood the market) and why should they let a piece of shovelware through instead of something that will actually sell. If it sells, it was a good idea, if it doesn't then the metacritic score is meaningless, even if the game is Toki Tori (my favorite wii-ware game btw).

You can argue your ideology all you want, but reality trumps ideology all the time, just look at politics.

As to how Ninty can improve it's wii/dsi-ware marketability so that EVERY game sells more units is a completely different issue.

But... The idea that people on this site are arguing for MORE shovelware is mind-boggling...

Adam

#51

Adam said:

The idea that some people can't read the comments from the staff of this site who insist that the developers in question are not all bad is even more mind-boggling. No one is arguing for more "shovel ware."

CorbsAdmin

#52

Corbs said:

Some people are missing the point. It's not about bringing more shovelware to the service. There are plenty of shovelware games that have more than met the threshold set by Nintendo. But vice versa, there are some great games that did not meet the threshold and their developers didn't get a penny of their investment back, let alone made any profits.

The main discussion here is wondering why Nintendo can't come up with a more viable solution to quality control than setting these thresholds. If these thresholds only kept shovelware from seeing the light of day it would be one thing, but judging from the weekly Top 20, that's not happening and there are some good games from good developers that are getting caught in the crossfire.

XGen

#53

XGen said:

Speaking from the perspective of another developer, we at XGen see these thresholds essentially as protection for Nintendo against having their time and money consumed by titles that simply don't perform well on their service. There's a cost associated with getting a game through their testing processes and launched, and I don't think that it's a trivial one. They need safeguards like this in order to prevent from being burned by large numbers of titles that don't generate any sales.

That said, we hate to see great games like Toki Tori and others perform poorly, but I would think that they've at least met the minimum thresholds to see something back on their investment.

On only a slight tangent, hear hear to some of what has been said regarding Metacritic (etc.) scores. We're all gamers at XGen and we use these services to help decide what's worth looking at, but Defend Your Castle has a pretty poor score considering how many people love this game. I completely agree that in many cases the press (WiiWare-World / Nintendolife excluded, we love you guys :)) represents the "hardest of the hardcode" and is simply out of touch with what even the average gamer likes to play.

CorbsAdmin

#54

Corbs said:

I'm curious as to why if every WiiWare and DSiWare game has to be submitted to Nintendo for approval, can't Nintendo use this approval process to decide whether a game is good enough for public consumption before it's released. Once the game is released there's not really anything that can be done about it then, other than the game not meet the threshold and the developer be out every penny they put into the development cycle.

I was under the impression that these download services on the Wii and DS were to give these indie developers a chance to take chances and be bold with their creativity. It would seem that putting a threshold in place that could cost the developer every penny they own would stifle that creativity quite a bit. :)

And thanks XGen, you're too kind. :D

Wrenski

#55

Wrenski said:

@Adam "The Nintendo Seal of Quality used to mean just this. Why no longer?"

No. Shut up for god sakes, everytime I see someone say this I want to gouge my own eyes out. IT ISN'T TRUE. It was NEVER TRUE. All the Nintendo Seal of Quality was was a sign that it had been liscensed to keep developers under Nintendo's thumb during the NES days. Please stop spouting this crap, you're wrong.

@Corbie "The main discussion here is wondering why Nintendo can't come up with a more viable solution to quality control than setting these thresholds. If these thresholds only kept shovelware from seeing the light of day it would be one thing, but judging from the weekly Top 20, that's not happening and there are some good games from good developers that are getting caught in the crossfire."

You know what? So what. We hardcore internet nerds can get as pissed as we want about a game we sneer down our nose at as 'shovelware', but if it keeps selling, it's something people want. If it's something people want, no matter how much we cry about how they must be ignorant, it is a good thing it exists.

XGen

#56

XGen said:

It's a bit of a tricky problem because having an approval process where a single group has "veto" power could limit creativity and innovation even more than the existing threshold systems. It's possible that a game which had been worked on for over a year could be disapproved just because whomever was doing the review didn't see the enormous market waiting for that particular game.

I personally think that the problems lie more in the lack of systems to consistently allow the quality content to rise to the top. For example, if there were a review system built into the Shop channel, I would think that games like Toki Tori and Lit would stand out clearly from the masses, and the resulting boost in sales would render any threshold amounts a non-issue.

One more personal opinion is that game development is expensive, even on WiiWare. Even if a developer were paid for sales below any threshold, it probably isn't enough to offset a meaningful portion of the development costs.

CorbsAdmin

#57

Corbs said:

@ XGen - That's a very good point about the approval process. I guess that's why I've always respected those who take the risk of developing video games. It's so difficult to understand why one good game sells and another good game doesn't and vice versa.

@ Wrenski - Now that's a good point as well. In fact, that's probably the best point I've seen brought up in this entire discussion. Well said.

XGen

#58

XGen said:

The amount of shovelware on a service actually doesn't bother us as much as seeing genuinely good games fail (because as you said, as long as people are buying it nothing will change). The problem for us is more when great games just don't sell. The masses can buy as much shovelware as they can afford, as long as good developers are rewarded for their hard work and are financially able to keep releasing new titles.

CorbsAdmin

#59

Corbs said:

Well XGen, I can't say it any better than you just did. I just find it a bit sad that some of these good developers won't see a penny of their investment back, and some might not even get a second chance at redemption. As I said, I respect those who are willing to sacrifice their financial well-being to create video games. I guess that's why I'm just a lowly game journalist. Not much risk involved there. :)

Dawnclaude

#60

Dawnclaude said:

Yeah Xgen you right. A review system in the Shop channel would help. Bigger screenshots and 3D covers would also help. ;) Do you talk about improvements with Nintendo?

Someone know if good games like Lit and Toki Tori passed the treshold??
I dont know if Vgchartz has the correct sales numbers. When we can trust them, normally both titles have reached them. I hope so, Toki Tori is a very good title and I hope I can play Lit soon.

KDR_11k

#61

KDR_11k said:

Nintendo's philosophy on the Wii is probably "noone can say for sure which games will appeal to the masses so the proof of the pudding is in the eating." The Wii shook up the traditional perceptions of what makes a successful game and as such it's to be expected that there will also be games that don't conform to traditional expectations. The only way to say for sure whether a game is something the Wii userbase wants is to sell it to them.

The purpose of the WiiWare service is to provide something the customer wants so he spends money on it. The threshold works towards this goal too by trying to discourage putting games on the service that the customers don't want.

What customers want isn't just quality, it's a game that fills a need they have. For example there's a crapton of DVD recordings of aquariums that people use to decorate their living room, My Aquarium lets them have that with an infinite runtime and configuration options, BAM megaseller. People love poker and want a way to quickly play that even without other people in the house, Texas Hold'Em Tournament gets released, BAM #1 seller. People like FPSes, especially with the Wii controls, Onslaught comes along, BAM huge seller. People like racing games, SPOGS gets released, BAM nice seller despite the low quality. I suspect Crystal Defenders may also score big since it has both a big brand and tower defense games are pretty popular so it fills a new need.

A big part of success is being in the right place at the right time with the right thing on sale.

Chunky_Droid

#63

Chunky_Droid said:

Well games like Toki Tori still have time, and I will be one person who will buy it still, just haven't got the points yet.

But on another note, games like Pong Toss are mass appeal to college students using WiFi in their colleges (or even uni students) on drunken beer nights. College students are a huge market for online gaming.

I'd like to use Super Meat Boy as an example, it was a free flash game, and millions of people played it. Therefore, the developers of that game can say that said game is beloved by a lot of people. Now what they need to do is advertise the upcoming WiiWare game, raise awareness. And they'll pass the threshold easily.

Games like Toki Tori however (this is assuming this game hasn't made it), being a remake of a GBC game that never sold well to begin with, was obviously a risk.

So I think being creative isn't what indie developers should go for, I think they should test that creativity on-line via a free flash game or something first. If it's successful, go for a purchasable full fledged version on WiiWare, if not, then back to the drawing board. Otherwise, knowing what your audience wants (as was the case with Pong Toss) certainly wouldn't hurt.

Adam

#64

Adam said:

@55 Hehe, poor Wrenski. He seems upset... calm down. It's just an internet discussion. You should have better things to do than get upset because someone said something you don't believe about a tiny graphic on old Nintendo games, no? :D

If Nintendo licensed the games, that means they approved of their quality. Otherwise, they wouldn't license them. It's not complicated. Even if Nintendo never saw the game before stamping their little seal (which would certainly not be the case in the NES days), it still means they accept that this game goes on their system and they aren't shirking the responsibility for it. Whether they meant it or not, they claimed the "Seal of Quality" meant quality games. Maybe Nintendo was spouting crap, but not me. :P

Kriqxz

#65

Kriqxz said:

@53 "we at XGen see these thresholds essentially as protection for Nintendo against having their time and money consumed by titles that simply don't perform well on their service."

This was the point I was trying to make. Ninty has a set amount of games they can release per week without overflooding the market. They need some assurance from the developers that they are pushing a product that people will buy, and they need to be compensated by those that don't.

We all hate to see good games fail to sell, but this is just how it goes sometimes.

Look at the music industry. Pop music is mostly crap, but it sells. Kick and scream all we want, it won't change.

Adam

#66

Adam said:

But is there really no better way to exercise quality control than taking money from the developers who need it the most? Nintendo could take a little extra time to approve the game in advance. And yes, I do realize I just suggested Nintendo go out of their way to do a little extra, but while that might cost them extra, the benefit would be that they would prevent bad games from being released in the first place, which would earn them more and prevent the developer from wasting more time and money on a game that Nintendo isn't going to end up paying them for anyway.

Gizmo

#67

Gizmo said:

@ "After all history has shown us time and time again that not all innovative, quality games manage to generate the sales expected – why should this be any different on WiiWare?"

Maybe because the price of a WiiWare game is much lower than a retail version.

nintendoduffin

#68

nintendoduffin said:

@ Adam
The seal of quality was never a mark of the merits of a game but rather that it was coded well enough to not crash your system and didn't contain any objectionable material (hence the original Mortal Kombat being released minus the blood). I've played far too many truly appalling SNES games (Pitfighter is the one that springs to mind immediately) to believe that the Nintendo seal of "quality" is worth very much at all.

Adam

#69

Adam said:

My point is that they were at least taking responsibility for it by claiming it was a seal of quality, whether that meant what it claimed or not. They weren't trying to pull these money-stealing schemes on anyone. They can't blame the developer because, whether they actually inspected it for true quality or not, that seal does claim it to be a quality game.

Maybe it's not the same, but that's how I see it and the most obvious interpretation of the infamous "seal." :)

Sean_Aaron

#70

Sean_Aaron said:

Good discussion here; it'd be nice to copy this over to the forum.

I think a missing piece of the puzzle is the number of sales needed to break into the Top 20 in the first week; this would give us a better picture of how many people are really consuming WiiWare. I buy VC/WiiWare content almost weekly (PAL has been slow lately, so mainly that's been Japanese shop for me), but I may be a complete mutant and clearly I'm not going to carry any title myself.

Also, whilst the idea of videos on the shop is excellent, there are reviews on the Nintendo Channel where you can fill out a little survey and rate any game you've played on your Wii for at least an hour. The question again is how many people do this and how many Wii owners have installed the Nintendo Channel and use the "Find Me a Game" function.

Lastly the Japanese Nintendo site will have links back to a maker's website for their game if it exists -- do the PAL and US Nintendo sites do the same? Not necessarily the best promo, but it's better than a couple of screenshots.

I don't necessarily see a great way around this issue without people being interested enough in the shop to see what's there. General promotion of the service by Nintendo is the best bet: how many devs are going to spend money marketing a download title that costs 5-10 bucks?

IAmNotWill

#71

IAmNotWill said:

That oreo cookie looks AWESOME.

Back on topic:
I think some developers don't even play their game. Which is why we get some much crap.

cecesigue

#72

cecesigue said:

i liked what KDR_11k said, and that's why i think we should be better thinking in what we want?! yeah! don't know nothing about thresholds, or sales in space, there is less really good games than bad games, is like that. Nintendo cant wait for just good games. they would wait forever. what they can do is put their seal of quality ( meaning people that is a legal copy of the disc, not if is good or bad) and then is up to the public to buy.

victorinox

#73

victorinox said:

since theres so many comments but i did read most of them i thought i would toss in my 2 cents...

the way Wiiware is set up, is simply to fail... the Demographic of the wii is the CASUAL GAMER you have to remember most wii owners arnt hard core at all now there is little to no information on what exactly the shop channel does on the wii itself and the casual gamer will just overlook it like the weather channel now even at this point its a lot of work just setting it up for the target market, and nintendo has done almost nothing to promote it in a general way... you can get the nintendo channel as mentioned above, but how many people are seriously gonna download a channel, let them get info from your wii, just to watch videos of games you can buy in their shop it REALLY sounds pointless...

now lets look at the actual games, most are much like the VC... remakes of games with minor add ons bubble bobble which requires DLC just to get new, outside of the ugly new look misleading titles pachinko planet, i thought was a actual pachinko game so i was happy with it since i love but it was quite the opposite and finally huge name games that are kinda pointless to see like FF crystal defenders the ones that are actually done by the little people look boring, and unfun and most of them i haven't played crap like strong bad

with all of this, nintendo put no effort into making the wii more accessible for these games wiiware came out about a year+ ago, and 4.0 which fixed this problem maybe a month ago, which was a on going issue from basically the start of the store since you have to actually remove them from your system, put them on a card, and swap them out... with that poor write speed, made it a LOT less desirable to own a lot... and with all of those great VC titles Zelda/mario/sonic which obviously will be on quite a few wiis prior to Wiiware you have a ton of HUGE games like the FF Crystal defender games which combined are about 500 blocks, and space invaders was around 300 for that alone without DLC =, its not hard to fill it up... so between nintendos half *** effort on this, and the real lack of marketing i have never seen ANYTHING outside of online really talking about the wiiware service or shop its gonna obviously fail in a large part... the final reason it was born to fail is simply if nintendo adds something, it usually is a joke... look at Wiispeak, it came out about 5+ months ago, and only 1 game uses it... making the total use of this product animal crossing or the channel, how useful .;; same with the online play, the few games that have it really shouldnt or are complete trash to play brawl is overly laggy, MK has too many cheaters and lag, CoD 5 has a poor match system, lack of stages, and lag/constant DC's, bleach/hitman/castlevania reborn why does this even have online... the only really redeeming game is Monster Hunter G which is a pay to play service =. so when people constantly see nintendo putting out the minimal effort, and making sure to make your wii experience an annoying one just kill the damn friend code system its annoying! its not hard to see why, this policy is stupid

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