News Article

Oster Lays Out WiiWare Criticisms

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Lessons to be learned

There was a lot of controversy recently when Trent Oster — president of Beamdog, the company responsible for MDK2's WiiWare port — said that his company would never develop for Nintendo again: some objected to the tone of his remarks and comments about Wii as a console. In an interview with Nintendo Life, Oster outlines these criticisms but also provides suggestions and insight into how Nintendo can makes its digital platforms more accommodating to development studios.

A few of the issues raised included the royalty limit, which has meant no financial return for Beamdog on MDK2, marketing for WiiWare and the QA process: below are a couple of shortened extracts.

The sales limit is set quite high for a download service with no real marketing support. I think WiiWare didn't get a lot of marketing support on any front. I never saw any advertising for third party WiiWare titles, anywhere. I think the lack of marketing investment in the WiiWare platform was one of the big problems with the service.

QA was a bad experience on all sides. We did our best with a few hires and a certification guide. My main issue with the certification process was the turn around. We'd get a bug, fix it that day and then wait two weeks. We'd fix that bug that day, along with others we'd found and then wait two weeks again for feedback. We did this for close to nine months. I would have preferred a kick back saying the title wasn't ready if the bugs were that bad or a lot faster testing and reporting cycle.

Those are the negatives, but Oster has shared plenty of opinions and ideas on how Nintendo's download platform can alleviate some of these problems for smaller developers. The full interview has now been published.

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User Comments (31)

NFreak007

#2

NFreak007 said:

I still can't believe that they withhold all profits until a certain sales figure is met. Is that standard practice or is this something unique to WiiWare?

Bankai

#3

Bankai said:

Should be a good read. Glad to see you guys following this guy up properly :)

Polaris

#4

Polaris said:

They're getting so much attention because they're one of the only ones complaining. What did they expect?

ajcismo

#6

ajcismo said:

This is why I've been coming to this site first lately and not IGN or some of the "bigger" sites. IGN would've teased the interview, and then editorialized it so that nothing but negative feedback and flamewars would've kicked up in the comments section. I appreciate the approach NintendoLife, thank you, looking forward to reading the rest of the interview later.

exDeveloper

#7

exDeveloper said:

Hmm... some valid points here, but the certification thing is way overblown. I shipped GBA, NDS and Wii games, most of them passed on first try, and those which didn't I can assure you didn't take 9 months to debug. But truth be told, you have to do a little more than "a few hires and a certification guide", you can't use Nintendo as your QA.

Wheels2050

#8

Wheels2050 said:

I agree - should be an interesting read.

Currently, it sounds like they didn't do a particularly good job of QA in-house (if the bugs are "that bad", shouldn't they have found them themselves?) but I hope that will be elaborated upon in the full interview.

Kirk

#10

Kirk said:

This kind of stuff isn't good enough Nintendo.

The last thing you need it developers refusing to makes games for your system because of avoidable issues like this.

HugoSmits

#11

HugoSmits said:

@exDeveloper. It really depends on when you go into QA/lotcheck. If you submit your game in a busy period they will let you off the hook much easier than when it's a slow period.

I had games come back for nothing more than missing a stripe on top of a letter (e instead of é).

hydeks

#12

hydeks said:

yup, agreed WiiWare wasn't that great BUT I think WiiUWare will be comparable to XBLA and PSN

CBattles6

#13

CBattles6 said:

I think there are some legitimate criticisms to be made about WiiWare, but it also sounds like Beamdog half-a**ed the game. You can do QA in house before submitting the game. You can put together marketing efforts on your own to boost sales. WiiWare isn't code for "make a game and then expect Nintendo to do all the work."

I don't remember World of Goo having any sales problems. Maybe Beamdog should have made a good game and taken pride in it instead of porting something from 1997.

MegaAdam

#14

MegaAdam said:

I think probably Nintendo needs to change their payout structure so that games that get less than 6000 sales still pay their creators. Their current policy seems to fit the mold of "no garage developers."

Xilef

#15

Xilef said:

@CBattles6 Agreed. I didn't realy get the complains on no advertasing eaither, since it's not Nintendos job. Sure, you can't realy adverstise games on the Wii Shop Channel, but that doesn't mean you can't advertise at al.

dizzy_boy

#16

dizzy_boy said:

how hard is it to play a game through a few times before sending them off to nintendo for checks.
i would have thought that programers should atleast run the code a few times during development aswell.
also, planning and setting a budget for advertising should really be considered at the beggining of the whole development process.
you could have the best game ever made and nobody would ever buy it if you never made people aware of it. there`s a simple truth in any business, you need to spend money to make money.

Mike1

#18

Mike1 said:

I've always said since day one that the WiiWare service is too flawed.

HugoSmits

#19

HugoSmits said:

@dizzy_boy

it's more than just 'playing it through a few times'. It's extremely little things like having a ' on the é. for example. And people can say that's just a stupid misstake to make and the developers should easily spot such a gramma fault... but it's really harder than most of you think (for example words are written different in Frech or Canadian French).

komicturtle

#20

komicturtle said:

Hope this isn't the same case with eShop.

Shouldn't be, with the praise as well as quality titles on the store.

AVahne

#23

AVahne said:

Honestly, I've barely seen any advertisements for XBLA nor SEN (formerly PSN). I think I've seen an ad for an XBLA game on some site, but that's just about it. I've seen NO TV commercials nor have I've seen any advertisements in real life. In Houston. So what's this guy complaining about WiiWare not getting advertised enough?
True, Wii games in general really weren't advertised much, except for Nintendo's own games and for huge titles like Monster Hunter 3 (tri).

FonistofCruxis

#24

FonistofCruxis said:

@L4DYKOM1C I remember reading somewhere that the eshop doesn't have a royalty limit like Wiiware does. I think it was on Gonintendo. Also, it clearly had a much bigger size limit seeing as there are already games with over 200 MB and the eshop advertises its releases so its clearly better than Wiiware.

mamp

#25

mamp said:

I don't know how it works with digital game downloads but if you have a store full of stuff isn't it the store owner's job to try to advertise it so you can sell as many items as possible? I mean it's not like the stores make most of the items they advertise or offer coupons for.

Unca_LzStaff

#26

Unca_Lz said:

If I recall correctly, like Koto said, the XBLA and SEN weren't really advertised much more than the Wiiware service.

mamp

#27

mamp said:

XBLA and SEN aren't really advertised as much but their games do get a lot more advertisement than Wiiware games I know skullgirls is downloadable for both of those stores and I've been hearing a lot of good things about that game and reading good reviews. Not that many places to get Wiiware reviews.

Ren

#28

Ren said:

seriously? part of the problem is not external advertising, it's just that with all these systems the online components are a central part of the system "home". just turning it on you immediately are walked through the online setup and all the benefits of the great online Stuff. There are millions of Wii's out there ready to go online and some great games in there but you can switch it on and never have any idea that there is anything to do online.
Why is that so hard? It almost makes it seem like they were trying to downplay the Wiiware to make sure the retail stuff was always given priority, and I don't doubt that that was part of the strategy in the beginning. But as soon as the second generation of consoles was out there should have been demos and some free trial wii points and a log in as soon as you turn on the wii, then sales would have at least doubled I guarantee it. Still nothing of the sort. A massive missed opportunity. I remember having to walk through a ton of menus and back and forth junk to set up the shop channel way back and thought it was pretty weird. How come they didn't figure that out?

on xbox you do everything in your 'home' through your online account and are always "logged in", and see all kinds of ads for games and movies and demos. It doesn't matter that it's HD it wouldn't be that hard to do with the nintendo home page, even now. They just didn't take those sales seriously, and only now are they getting it. It's time to step it up. All you need is a little free/ cheap content (or reduced games) to get people in the door and they will then buy like crazy, why is that so hard for them to understand?

kdognumba1

#29

kdognumba1 said:

Like I said in my comment on the interview, the eShop fixes all of these issues and really is a great service.

SandMan

#30

SandMan said:

"My main issue with the certification process was the turn around. We'd get a bug, fix it that day and then wait two weeks. We'd fix that bug that day, along with others we'd found and then wait two weeks again for feedback. We did this for close to nine months."

Or as is the case with La-Mulana, for two years.

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