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Zoonami: Nintendo Not Generating Enough Interest in Downloads

Posted by James Newton

Bonsai Barber studio disappointed

Martin Hollis was director and producer on N64 shooters GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark, but in more recent times his Zoonami studio created WiiWare hit Bonsai Barber, published by Nintendo. In a recent interview with, Hollis speaks out about the support received from Nintendo, the service's fine points and its biggest downfall: the lack of mainstream media coverage.

Whilst Hollis praises the slimmer array of games compared to the App Store's overwhelming catalogue and talks about his positive experience with Bonsai Barber, which enjoyed considerable TV advertising as part of a high-profile campaign from Nintendo earlier this year. Overall though, Hollis seems unhappy with the amount of effort going into popularising WiiWare from the most important source: Nintendo itself.

Q: Given that, why do you think that not as much attention is given to WiiWare? What's stopping people from seeing the quality that is there?

Martin Hollis: That's a very good question. Apple have had such massive success in capturing media attention - they've sucked all of the air out of it. I don't know that Nintendo's putting a great deal of energy into trying to generate PR for WiiWare or DSiWare.

Although Hollis acknowledges Nintendo is starting to take digital distribution more seriously, his complaints echo comments from earlier this year when several developers spoke out about Nintendo's lack of emphasis on WiiWare.

Zoonami received the backing of Nintendo with a TV advertising campaign and publishing as well, but in the wider view of things Hollis clearly feels not enough is being done to popularise the services.


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User Comments (40)



Objection said:

Wait, so he's complaining about Nintendo's lack of PR support for Wiiware and DSiWare, when his game was one of the few that were part of an Ad campaign from Nintendo? I agree that Nintendo needs to do more, but this isn't really the right guy to be talking about it.



irken004 said:

Well it doesn't help when a developer of shooter games goes down to make a game about being a barber. But I agree, ALL videogames need more advertising, especially downloadable services.



KeeperBvK said:

@ Objection_Blaster: I'd like to disagree on that. Especially if that guy's game has seen some sort of advertisement, it's something to listen to, when he still thinks Nintendo's not doing enough.



Incognito_D said:

I was tempted to download this game at the time of release, but overall I had too many other games to be getting on with than one about giving vegetables haircuts - sorry to say



Epic said:

They only need to make a TV comercial with two chinese saying we want to play.



rjejr said:

I don't view the lack of marketing WiiWare games as just one issue, but as part of a larger issue with Nintendo in general. They couldn't market/sell DL games initially b/c of the lack of internal space, and it took awhile before you could use an SD card (and you still can't use a USB thumbdrive despite 2 ports on the back of the Wii). The lack of demo's is a dead horse by this point. It's been almost 5 years and they still don't have a Wii greatest hits line so no additional advertising there, and their first party titles haven't dropped in price ($10 off Super Mario Galaxy 1 on Amazon is hardly noteworthy.) Yes they are advertising the new WiiPlus remotes but how many games actually need/use them? [Metroid: Other M, Wii Party, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Epic Mickey = NO, Flingsmash=YES] Nintendo just does what it wants to make money, which is great for them and their shareholders, but I can easily see how companies relying on them for support would feel slighted.



Spoony_Tech said:

Yeah OK make a good looking game and then complain about not getting any support! That game looks stupid and I've got better games to spend my time and money on!



retro_player_22 said:

Wow they really want Nintendo to do more, heck Nintendo had done a lot more than just digital download though, they also handle the hardware sales, console retail releases as well as handheld releases too so the fact of the matter is Nintendo is doing more(well more this guy askt for). Just that Nintendo isn't too focus on digital download compare to physical games.



Token_Girl said:

To be fair, this is a niche type game. Even if it's great, I can't see the initial premise nabbing a broad audience based on a title and a 4 second blurb in a commercial.

Also, to be fair, he's right. Most people are still not connected to the internet. The Wii shop is not the easiest to search or browse. You basically have to know a specific game you want to buy and then go to it to have any motivation to log in. You WON'T know about those games unless you're following a site like this. Demos and a better layout will do a lot to fix the problem.

Also, not an issue with WW as much as DSiWare, but on both services there are games on the app store, many that are even better on the app store, that are also cheaper on the app store. Aside from the few apps that make it on the commercials, Apple doesn't really do all that much either. It's just easily accessible from the iTunes store, which everyone knows about. It also has great search functions, featured apps, best rated rankings, free trial versions, etc, so it's easy to find things you'd like. They really just need to merge the shop and nintendo channels, so they can integrate the ratings and videos with the games.



Mange said:

If I ever see any Nintendo commercial on swedish TV it´s still about WiiFit or Mario Galaxy 2. They sure need to push the Wii:s (and DS:s) online capabilities. They really should focus all they have on downloadable games/services as it will be the major distribution path for about everything in a very near future.



Ren said:

this story is a broken record. seems like they won't hear any amount of complaints that their advertising and support for DL content (wiiware, VC) just isn't going far enough. It really is strange that they can't see what a massive missed opportunity it is to just push a little bit harder to grab the casual market with online material. Apple has yanked all of us online with their easy access.
(nintendo channel/ shop channel linkage, advertising, demos or at least a few free trial points, price drops or limited specials) Why not? The install base is massive, that Wii is sitting there in millions of homes collecting dust, it's a trojan horse that most consumers don't even know has Downloadable games on it.
I love Wiiware more than retail games, and even I'm losing interest, since I only know about games from coming to this site.



dizzy_boy said:

some of these dev's should pull their fingers out and start advertising their own games, rather than relying on nintendo to do it for them.
only gamers are really going to buy games magazines and visit games sites like this. and how many people really use the nintendo channel? not many.
the obvious choices will always be tv, radio, bill boards, and news paper ads to get awareness of these games to the mass market.
if all these dev's do is send out info and review copies to games mags, where else do they think people are going to see what they're trying to sell?
simple busines fact, you have to spend money to make money.



JebbyDeringer said:

Hollis Queens?

Come on though, most people on here know all about Nintendo's downloadable games. He is talking about everyone else. Also he isn't referring to his game as not selling well, he is talking about the service as a whole. Don't argue with him, he's right.



niggyt2004 said:

I would like to say as of late i think the whole nintendo downloads have been so poor as of late. wheres all the arcade games. i have not added any points to my nintendo account for ages.



Hardy83 said:

Nintendo's digital distribution on both DSi and Wii have been a joke day one. Obviously some people defended it and some held out hope, but if this generation is any indication of future systems, they'll need more than first party games to convince the growing smartphone genertaion.



wanderlustwarrior said:

@5: Chinese?

I for one agree. I haven't seen a single WiiWare, DSiWare or VC commercial anywhere other than me actually looking for it. The only people on my entire campus who know about the Bit.Trip series are because I showed it to them. that's not exactly a great job they're doing.

But there's just so much they could stand to improve on:
*Greatest hits
*Price drops both for DL games or discs
*Having more than one "sale" a year
*A menu that can be navigated easily
*Nintendo Channel coming pre-installed
*More fair publicity on the Nintendo Channel
*Actually using the opt-in marketing thing on the Nintendo Channel, and possibly making it an opt-out thing instead



Ristar42 said:

Though I guess downloads are Apple's primary means of delivering games to their customers, not carts or discs...

To be honest, even though I know about WiiWare and check each update, I've not downloaded anything with the exception of Sonic 4 since April. Mainly because the quality is lacking overall in comparison to proper disc releases, which I can then trade in when I'm bored.



StuffyStuff said:

When the Wii came out, it was all the rage and got tons of publicity. Now, I'm only seeing commercials for games that are on multiple platforms. Most game commercials are to a targeted audience: G4, Spike, little kid games on Nick and sports games on sports networks. I don't understand why Nintendo doesn't advertise to a more broad audience like they did when the system was launched. More on topic, I've never seen a WiiWare game advertised. I know my opinion isn't worth much, but there aren't many games I'm interested in for the WiiWare. For a while, you could download demos of certain titles. Maybe that should be a mainstay or some sort of rental service would encourage more activity.



dizzy_boy said:

i wonder if sony and microsoft have the same problem with their download services.
it would be cool to see sale comparison for each service. but that's unlikely to happen.
another point is that if the smaller dev's don't make enough sales on their games through wiiware, they're less likely to submit further games for the service. they'll just move onto other devices such as apples iphone/pad.
no wonder reggie files-amme has been reported on being worried about apple becoming more of a threat. he needs to look closer at what his company is doing to have been put into that kind of situation.



Peznaze said:

When you consider how much App sales skyrocket when a half-second clip is included in an iDevice commercial, they have a point.

Nintendo, however, will do their standard catch-22 argument. Not worth advertising when sales are so small. Sales are so small, they need more advertising. But they're too small to justify spending money on advertising, and so on.



vherub said:

sony, nin and ms are all flawed in the online selling sphere, but I would still say the wii is a distant 3rd.
Agree with wanderlust.
The lack of discounts or price drops, the lack of demos, the poor integration of the wiiware service into the wii experience, inability to purchase exact amounts, storage space limitations, Nintendo's inability to foster an online environment is going to catch up with it the next console cycle.



zionich said:

To some degree this is true, but is a little misleading. I doubt that advertising WiiWare/DSiWare games will make people that dont have internet service go out and get it.

To those that do have internet service, they should first push the Nintendo Channel and Nintendo Week. The only reason I come to this and other web sites for mondays (U.S.) games, is because it comes out before Nintendo Channel updates. I might take the time to youtube the games if they sound appealing, but mainly I watch them, and yes, all of them have videos, on Nintendo channel when it updates.

That might not be enough for some people, and of course, everyone might not be aware of it. Thats still better that what ive seen on PSN. (Unless you have to enter Home to get this kind of info)

The biggest flaw being seeing old videos.



Aviator said:

Nintendo of AU runs lots of ads for both Wii and DS, but usually with popular Australians. But they are only ever playing new releases, Wii Party and Prof Layton 3 for example. There is nothing for WiiWare nd DSiware.



Kid_A said:

He's absolutely right. I'd be surprised if 25% of Wii owners even knew WiiWare existed.



Bankai said:

Sigh. Marketing =/= ads. I've done this argument over and over and over again.

I've never seen an ad for Sony's PlayStation Network, either. Ads are irrelevant. What Sony has done well is in talking to the press, and giving people a compelling reason to jump online (And no "Download games here" is not enough, Nintendo - Sony offers a proper service, of which downloadable games is just one part).

Nintendo doesn't need to advertise more. It needs to get the message out there better, and provide a more robust and enjoyable online experience. Which is what I suspect Zoonami guy is actually talking about.



ecco6t9 said:

Part of the problem is navigating DSiWare or WiiWare. It feels cumbersome and shoddy.



Wolfcoyote said:

I've stopped purchasing WiiWare titles (though I think I have over twenty) not only because I've stopped searching everywhere and reading up on releases but also because I'm afraid of Nintendo's attitude of "oh well, your loss" when my Wii finally dies. I was also tired of navigating the store, which shouldn't be chore if you're trying to give Nintendo and third-party devs money.



Hokori said:

well i did see an add for Pokemon Rumble Last year, but they need to do more then that



Rob_mc_1 said:

I'm not surprised. look at the long history of under supported stuff that Nintendo makes. The zapper for nes, mouse for snes, hey you pikachu mic, gcn broadband/modem adapter, wii speak, gba eReader, ect. Nintendo make a lot of great stuff but usually only a couple titles use them and they are then no longer supported. Pokemon ranch doesn't support Heartgold/Soulsilver and its not that they can't update dlc on the wii because even the wii browser got a couple of updates now and then.

As for me I don't like the idea of Wiiware and Virtual console tiiles is because they are stuck on that device and probably won't be transfered to the next console you buy. the DSi XL was a good example because those who already owed a DSi couldn't transfer them to the XL.

At this point there are more advantages to having a physical game disc.



HolyMackerel said:

This just shows how many problems there are with WiiWare:

  • No promotion or exposure for WiiWare games
  • WiiWare restrictions (memory size, developer entry level)
  • Minimal Wii internal memory
  • Wii can't run games from SD card
  • General lack of focus on online features
  • Difficult to navigate the shop
  • Shop doesn't stand out on the Wii menu
  • No demos
  • Games never get price drops over time
  • No sales or discounts ever occur
  • Poor game release timing
  • Games can never get patches or updates
  • Efforts were too little, too late

Let's hope the get it all fixed for the 3DS. I really hope they do.



LuWiiGi said:

I think he's right. Even a lot of the people who have a Wii don't know about WiiWare.



Sean_Aaron said:

His point is completely valid whether you think Bonsai Barber is good or not (it's brilliant; one of the only WiiWare games I've fired up regularly since purchase). To argue a WiiWare dev should front all the marketing themselves is ludicrous - you'd be surprised how many of these outfits are a handful of people in a room.

They're lucky to be able to fund their first game let alone put a big advertising budget behind it and before anyone says something stupid, having the money to fund ads isn't the same as making a good game.

With regards to Waltz's comment, whilst it's true that advertising isn't the end-all and be-all, if we're trying to reach the expanded market then all roads need to be crossed. Nintendo would have helped themselves most by making the online connectivity and shop more prominent on the system to be sure.



pnutz said:

"# Wii can't run games from SD card"
Uhh, 2008 called. They wanted to tell you about an update that you should get around to installing.
Agree with every other point though.



theblackdragon said:

@pnutz: what HM means is that the Wii cannot run games directly from the SD card. You have to leave a chunk of space open in the Wii's internal memory so that it can load whichever game you choose from the card into internal memory temporarily.



RichIcon said:

As a developer I find the WiiWare service incredibly frustrating; not just bacause of Nintendo's lack of support.

The main killer issues are:

1) We are not allowed to release patches to rectify issues, UNLESS there was a critical error with the original build. So we are unable to respond to magazine/customer feedback and make any changes at all

2) We are not allowed to change the price point of our games once released. I'd like to drop our current titles down to 500 points, fix up a couple of issues and try and jump-start sales. Alas this is not an option as Nintendo flatly refuse to let us

EVERY other downloadable game service allows the developer to do this - why not WiiWare?

Financially WiiWare nearly killed us as a business due to its inflexibility.



Mr-Mobius said:

My main problem is that they won't let Debit Card users register for points so I have to go get Points Cards from a shop which is more expensive and more hassle. Many WiiWare games are spur of the moment buys as I've more than enough disc based games. LostWind and Bit Trip sort of games will get buys because they are short and really focused so I get a lot of quality for short amount of gaming time needed.

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