Round Table: Let's Talk About The Wii U eShop

A new era of downloads

Tom: Let's talk about prices then. What are your initial reactions to launch day download-only prices?

Corbie: Not bad when you consider many retail titles are $60. And many of these download titles offer great gaming experiences.

Mike: Generally quite fair, though a couple of the higher prices made me hesitate.

Corbie: I'd still prefer .99 cents! I’m joking…

Considering I've spent more time with Mighty Switch Force HD and Nano Assault Neo than NSMBU and Nintendo Land, I'd say their prices are fair!

Ron: So far, I think the eShop prices have been pretty fair. Trine 2 is a little pricey, but I think that hovering between the $8-$15 range is great for downloadable titles. Especially when they're of the quality that we've seen so far.

Corbie: Agreed.

Tom: I thought they were generally OK. Nano Assault seemed bang on to me, but Chasing Aurora (pre-sale) seemed high, based on what I've read about it.

Mike: Chasing Aurora was one of my hesitation points. I'll happily snap it up on sale because I think it looks interesting, but the initial price seemed a touch high.

Corbie: Yeah I think that's why I passed on it early on. And let's face it, the more attractive these indie devs can make the price, the more likely they're going to get sales. Especially from impulse buyers.

Ron: I don't really like the whole "race to the bottom" concept, but keeping prices fair seems like a good way to see games on the eShop.

Tom: There's a definite leap in price compared to the 3DS eShop. Is it down to the scale of the games (I don't think so, personally), or is it just the reality of dev costs for these HD titles?

Corbie: I don't mind paying for a great game. Bottom line. Obviously creating HD titles is more costly, but it still comes down to a balance between profits and making the game's price appealing to the masses.

Mike: It seems more appropriate to have a higher price on a console; they're often regarded as the 'premium' gaming experience, so I guess the price moves up to match that.

I don't mind paying for a great game. Bottom line. Obviously creating HD titles is more costly, but it still comes down to a balance between profits and making the game's price appealing to the masses.

Ron: I don't have any idea how much it costs to develop a game, but I tend to agree with Mike. Console games tend to seem more ‘premium,’ so they also tend to cost more.

Tom: Fair enough, I concur! An interesting feature with the launch library is that there are four ports/multi-platform games, counting MSF, and two Wii U exclusives. Do you feel the exclusives have an edge in any sense, utilising the tech?

Mike: I've only played one of the exclusives — Nano Assault Neo — but from that I wouldn't really say there's any particular advantage I've seen so far. I've played all the 'ports' and they've utilised off-TV play just as well as the exclusives, in my opinion.

Corbie: I think we'll see more utilization of the Wii GamePad in time, but right now I think Wii U owners just want fun and entertaining gaming experiences.

Ron: Having not played Chasing Aurora, I can't really attest to that one, but I do think that Nano Assault Neo feels natural on the Wii U. Whether that is because it's exclusive to the Wii U tech or simply because the devs did a great job with it is a completely different question. I can't imagine it being a bad game on a different console as long as there are two sticks to play with.

Corbie: I like playing the Wii U games on the pad as much as anyone, but given the HD visuals offered on the TV, I find myself ignoring this feature more often than not. It’s still nice to have the choice.

Mike: Everything I've played so far has felt natural. Some games are better than others, but I wouldn't put it down to port VS exclusive for this batch.

Corbie: Agreed. Like a nice bonus.

Mike: I actually find myself using off-TV more than I do playing on TV at the moment, which is odd.

Ron: Depending on the game, I play more off-TV. Especially with Little Inferno.

Tom: I'm the same with Little Inferno, I can't be bothered with the pointer controls so the GamePad works better.

In terms of the retail downloads, have any of you actually bought a retail title via the eShop?

Mike: Nope, though I do wish I had Nintendo Land installed on my system at all times.

Corbie: Since I went with the white system, I'm trying to stay away from retail downloads at the moment, so no.

Ron: I haven't purchased a retail game via DL either. I'm picky and like filling my shelves with cases!

Mike: The prices of retail games aren't good enough for me to justify it.

Corbie: I'm with Ron, I like the physical media.

Mike: Plus I'm still not happy with how Nintendo are handling accounts, not allowing you to move user names around easily without contacting customer support.

Tom: So out of four NL writers, not a single retail download. Is it going to take off on Wii U eShop? Or will gamers look at the prices and say, if I may be crude, "f**k that!"

Mike: I'd rather not invest too much in that until I'm more confident in Nintendo's account approach.

Corbie: Let's face it, Nintendo need to make these digital downloads more affordable and enticing.

Ron: F**k it!

Corbie: So yeah, F**k it!

Mike: Judging by the eShop bestseller charts, some are actually doing quite well, outselling cheaper indie games.

Tom: That’s despite the limited download times for 18 games in Europe...

Ron: Yeah, that limited purchasing time is absolutely absurd.

Corbie: That time limit is silly I think.

Ron: Until they adjust retail DL prices to be slightly lower than true retail price, and until they fix the whole account issue, I think people are going to stick to retail copies.

Tom: To go back to download-only games, and to take an example of a title not exactly lighting up the charts, do you guys think Chasing Aurora is struggling due to price, or the fact it's an little-known developer with a strange game title?

Mike: Price.

Corbie: Price more than anything.

Mike: Trine 2 is by an unknown developer, has a strange title and is number one.

Corbie: But Trine has already been established on PS3, and has generally garnered good review scores.

Mike: I wouldn't say it's a particularly established series on consoles, but okay. PC, yeah.

Ron: I think Chasing Aurora is lacking in sales because people have no idea what it is. You can't really get an idea for the game from screenshots on the eShop, and then paying full price for it isn't enticing either.

Corbie: Another reason I'd like to see demos of these games more often. I know it's a pain for developers to create these demos, but I think they would ultimately help sell some of these titles that are hard to get a grasp of just by looking at screenshots.

Tom: Are there any functions that you really like as standouts on the Wii U eShop?

Corbie: I like being able to navigate things on the Wii U Game Pad. Makes it feel more like it does on the 3DS, which I'm comfortable with.

Mike: There's nothing really special about it from a functionality point of view. The layout is the main thing for me. I do like that it's built-in as a system-level app and you can get to a game's page straight from the WaraWara Plaza.

Ron: I agree with Mike. I don't think it's really that special, but I like being able to get to it without having to completely leave a game, like the 3DS eShop.

Tom: I like the way you can scroll down the screen so that it feels like a website, really, which is more natural than a collection of individual pages. Is there anything about it frustrating you all right now?

Corbie: I'd like it to be a bit more streamlined, and maybe break it down into more subsections.

Until they adjust retail DL prices to be slightly lower than true retail price, and until they fix the whole account issue, I think people are going to stick to retail copies.

Mike: Better navigation. I do like the layout, but categories need to be clearer and near the top / pinned to the side.

Corbie: Not to offend anyone, but maybe a bit more like XBLA!

Ron: How dare you compare my precious Wii U to XBLA!

I completely agree with everyone else 100% on this one. It looks nice and all, but without easy to navigate categories such as "eShop exclusives" or "demos," it can be a real pain to find what you're looking for.

Mike: Xbox 360's dashboard is a nightmare to navigate these days. It has the categories but everything else has been prioritised over games.

Tom: There are clear discrepancies between regions. We have a big orange button that says Demos in Europe.

Ron: I want that demo button in NA, please. Can you send one over?

Corbie: I second the vote for a demo button.

Tom: I agree with your points on layouts. There's also an extra step to add funds, as I keep ending up with the option to add blocks of cash, so it’s less intuitive to just pay enough for the game. That's a petty thing, but it tripped me up with both of my purchases so far.

It wasted at least 10 seconds of my life...

Corbie: Let's face it, the interface could be better. I think in time Nintendo will iron it out a bit.

Mike: It could also be faster, which is a general rule of Wii U at the moment.

Tom: It'll improve, just like the 3DS store. Overall thoughts then? Warm and fuzzy, meh, or disappointed?

Corbie: Meh. Decent, but could be better

Ron: Room for improvement, but I don't hate it!

Mike: Warm and fuzzy about the current output, meh about the eShop itself.

Tom: And now the topic that really matters, which games have you been playing the most?

Corbie: That's easy...Mighty Switch Force HD. Like a freaking mad man.

Tom: I seem to be drawn to 15 minute blasts of Nano Assault Neo on a regular basis, it's surprisingly strategic for a shmup game.

Mike: I'm very much in a cycle of Nano Assault Neo / Mighty Switch Force HD at the moment, 15 minute blasts. Though the most fun I've had has been playing Trine 2 in online co-op, it's a riot!

Ron: I've been playing a whole lot of Little Inferno. I think I'm on my third playthrough right now. I still venture into Nano Assault Neo pretty regularly as well. I'd love to see my name on the top of those leaderboards!

Ron: I'd love some more games to be released, and some Virtual Console titles as well.

Corbie: Yes! Virtual Console titles.

Tom: Yes, let's talk about Virtual Console...

Corbie: I'd like to see Gamecube games tossed into the mix.

Tom: I think we can assume Nintendo will release GameCube titles (and more) on a Virtual Console. They wouldn't miss the chance to make money on old rope. I also hope they'll do some download exclusive HD remakes, to really drive eShop traffic.

Corbie: Now I'm up for that Tom! But this is Nintendo… let's not get too sure!

Mike: I'm looking forward to Virtual Console finally hitting the system, but I'm concerned about previous purchases on Wii VC. Judging by the 3DS situation, I'm guessing we might have to re-purchase titles, which I won't be too happy about.

Tom: Amen to that, Mike.

Mike: I wouldn't mind so much if it wasn't such a convoluted process to play my old Wii VC titles now.

Ron: For Virtual Console, as much as I'd love to see GameCube games, I'd really love to play some older DS titles. I mean, we have two screens now, and one of them is a touchscreen, can't this happen?

Corbie: I was thinking that same thing Ron, but with the resolution difference I wonder what they'd look like in HD.

Tom: Interesting idea Ron! Surely Nintendo would rather release DS games on the 3DS eShop, though.

Corbie: I'd just love to have my Turbografx titles on my Wii U.

Mike: I want GameCube re-masters for sure. Bring me Wind Waker HD and I will buy it for many rupees.

Ron: Maybe Nintendo can just strike up a sweet deal with Rare and get all of those classics back...

Corbie: I wish! Banjo Kazooie!

Ron: Jet Force Gemini, please.

Corbie: And Conker's Bad Fur Day please!

Tom: Now you're all dreaming...

Corbie: Indeed.

Mike: We're dreaming when we start requesting Mother 3 HD remakes.

Corbie: Now THAT is dreaming!

Mike: Gotta dream big!

Corbie: Go big or go home!

Mike: Exactly!

Tom: I want them to release a Wii U with a handle, it's annoying having to put it in a bag to carry it around...

At this point the conversation turned (more than usually) silly, as they so often do at this time of year. We'd love to read your thoughts on the early days of the Wii U eShop in the comments below, and you can see our interviews with all of the launch developers on our Developer Interview page.

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