News Article

Vblank Entertainment: Retro City Rampage on WiiWare is a "$20,000 Gift to the Fans"

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Shares praise for eShop improvements, but Wii Shop threshold will make profits unlikely

Retro City Rampage is available now on the Wii Shop or, if you've long since moved onto a Wii U, on the same platform in the new system's Wii Mode. A manic, parody-heavy flashback to the original GTA and with pop-culture references from further back in time, it's an experience unlike any other WiiWare release of recent times.

And yet the title arrives against a backdrop of a declining platform, with the Wii Shop reduced to infrequent Neo Geo releases and the occasional WiiWare title in recent times. With the Wii U and 3DS eShops now at the core of Nintendo's downloadable game focus, the delays and late arrival of this game seem to be an unfortunate combination.

In an exclusive interview with Nintendo Life to be published on Saturday, Brian Provinciano — who is essentially Vblank Entertainment — spoke to us in detail about the title's development, its road to WiiWare and his thoughts on Nintendo's past and current download platforms. It was explained to us that a switch to Wii U wasn't a viable option, with Provinciano making the surprising comment that he doesn't necessarily expect to earn any money from the WiiWare version, but wanted to stay true to his word that there would be a Nintendo release. This comes back to the limitations of the Wii Shop agreement that, thankfully, have been eradicated on the eShop services.

The only weaknesses on Nintendo’s end during the Wii development have both been fixed for future platforms, so a big kudos must go out to them. They listen to feedback and take action to improve things if there’s a better way. In both cases, the original policies had the best intentions, but turned out to be a bit problematic.

The first was the office space requirement. As a mostly one-man company, I could have worked from home but instead needed to get an office, just for myself and the development hardware. This ended up draining a significant chunk of the bank account which I’d saved to for so many years to fund the game’s development full time. Secondly, it became public knowledge on Gamasutra in 2009 (one year before RCR’s announcement) that a sales threshold is in place, whereas, if you don’t sell enough copies, you don’t get paid a cent. This had the best intentions, to avoid shovelware, but the problem was that WiiWare wasn’t the hit that it was anticipated to be and while there are millions of consoles out there, a very small percentage of those consumers were downloading these games.

Many developers became unable to sell enough units, and this became a reason for so many cancellations of announced WiiWare titles. The publishers knew they wouldn’t make a cent and needed to cut their losses. Between the office rent, hardware, insurance, game ratings and other costs, had I not done the WiiWare version, I could’ve saved around $20,000 – not even including my salary in porting it. And as it stands, virtually no games hit the threshold these days, so it’s only being released as fan service. A $20,000 gift to the fans. However, I wanted to keep my word and didn’t want to see it go to waste. I’m happy to see it finally out, and the many happy players. That said, I encourage everyone to buy it! I’m crossing my fingers that it will hit the threshold at least in one region.

These comments perhaps explain why, ultimately, Retro City Rampage may be the last high-profile WiiWare release. Provinciano did stress that he has an excellent relationship with both Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe, saying that "they've become friends".

Be sure to come back on Saturday to read the full interview. In the meantime, what do you think of these comments, and the points they make about the — now well known — limitations of the Wii Shop platform?

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User Comments (62)

Ryno

#1

Ryno said:

I'm planning on buying it, hope this game sells enough for this guy to see some money from his work.

Captain_Toad

#2

Captain_Toad said:

Vblank cut $20,000 to give us this game at this format. If that's not awesome love to the wii fans then I don't know what is.

Oregano

#3

Oregano said:

I think I have 1000 points on my Wii U... I might buy it. It's good to know he doesn't have unreasonable expectations anyway.

Yosher

#4

Yosher said:

I downloaded it today. And I'm loving it, personally! I do highly prefer this top-down view over 3D sandbox games that GTA games are in this time of age, so this is a wonderful game for me.

All I can say is, thanks a ton for the gift, and I've shown my support with my purchase!

BJQ1972

#6

BJQ1972 said:

I feel so grateful to him that even though I bought it on my Wii U yesterday, I'm going to pick up the PS3 version too.

C-Olimar

#8

C-Olimar said:

I'll wait for a review, but even if it's average, I'll still probably pick it up, since a lot of effort went into this game.

Ren

#9

Ren said:

great attitude from him, he deserves all the praise he gets. I'm usually a cynical jerk around here but this game has totally blown my mind; screens and videos just don't do it justice, buy it today and set aside some time to nerd out like the old days with all the modern design touches in 8 bit mode. ooh, wait theres xbox version too? sold. I'd buy this 10 times over, it's that good. easily a 9 from me. I might have to get a classic controller just for this.
funny thing is I played this for hours last night at my office and went out to find my real car had been stolen! I guess it was payback for my in-game atrocities, but nothing could ruin my excitement for this game.

DRLAdmin

#10

DRL said:

I already own the game on PS3 but now I just may buy a copy on the Wii to support Provinciano. If you want to feel like you're playing an NES game for the first time in twenty some years, I recommend downloading this one ASAP. There are so many references/homages that 80's/90's kids should feel instantly transported to their youth. I had an absolute blast with this one and I hope it one day makes its way to the 3DS.

AyeHaley

#11

AyeHaley said:

Ok I need to buy a copy on WiiWare asap. It seems to be a great game so why not be the first WiiWare game I buy on my Wii U.

Jaguar8481

#12

Jaguar8481 said:

I believe I have exactly 1000 points left, so I will use that to buy this game I originally had no interest in. (And if I don't, I will spend the money for it) Please let Mr. Provinciano that he has a fan for life because he stuck to his word regardless of cost.

Bulbousaur

#13

Bulbousaur said:

This is pretty freaking amazing and admirable on Brian's part. I was still on the fence about this game, but now I'm totally convinced. I'll be getting this game tomorrow, and will most likely the last thing I will buy for my humble little Wii :)

TheChosen

#14

TheChosen said:

I've been pretty harsh for this guy on delaying the game over and over again, but damn I cant help but admire for keeping his word.

Also, I purchased the game today on Wii store. Loving it!

sketchturner

#15

sketchturner said:

From everything I've seen, Brian is an awesome guy. I figured he wouldn't make any money on the Wiiware version. I'm glad to see he is not bitter about this nor does he have any unrealistic expectations.

XCWarrior

#18

XCWarrior said:

Good man for sticking to his word. A rarity in today's society - not just the gaming world but people in general.

I'm still going to wait for a review - anytime now Nintendo Life - but my intention was to buy it for a long time. But after the Aliens Colonial Marines incident, I will probably rarely buy a game before reviews if Nintendo didn't make it or it's a well established franchise known for quality (aka Monster Hunter).

But good quotes, good comments. I tip my hat to you. And if the game reviews well, you get money too.

bezerker99

#19

bezerker99 said:

I've got a box of tissues for Brian since he's been cryin' about this for several weeks now, starting on facebook.

SteveW

#20

SteveW said:

It's a shame, this is the best game to ever come to Wiiware! there is something in this game for every fan of gaming for the past 25 years, no real gamer should skip this release! He should set up a donation area on his website, this game is worth it!

Exile20

#23

Exile20 said:

This is unfortunate, I think nintendo should have picked up the slack to port this to the eshop. The guy seem genuine and he had to get pass all the bullpoop the Wii shop had. I am buying it today. I hope he continues to release products on Nintendo's console.

bahooney

#24

bahooney said:

I absolutely have to buy this game now. THIS GUY. THIS IS HOW YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE A HUMAN.

DreaddJester

#25

DreaddJester said:

I was under the impression that game producers/developers giving a rats rump about their customers was extinct but apparently it's just an endangered species. First it was Coaster Creator 3D's creator answering questions about the game right here on Nintendo Life instead of ignoring everone, even on the official forums. Then it was Capcom's news to include some left out features of Monster Hunter 3U and now this!! Maybe if we if we nurture this attitude we can bring it back from the dead....... In my opinion it's what's truly missing in games these days.

SteveW

#26

SteveW said:

@bezerker99 - I disagree, I'd give it a 10, it's a classic. It brings back so many memories with its parodies of old NES games.

SteveW

#29

SteveW said:

@bezerker99 - Yep, I appreciate great things and give credit when it is well due. Wiiware has been dead for a long time and he did us all a great service by making such a great game available there.

Wildfire

#30

Wildfire said:

Do you know when we play a game for hours and we still think that it only passed a couple a minutes? Usually those are great games and that's what happened to me last night after downloading Retro City Rampage! Love it!

ArkOne77

#31

ArkOne77 said:

Buying this game today f'sho! I wish Nintendo would merge eshop & wii shop into one damn shop.....that way great games like this could be made available for wii & wii u console owners. Even if you have to play out of the wii channel on the Wii U, it woulod still be a move in the right directionfor Nintendo. Another thing that doesn't make sense is having a registered 3DS and a Wii U and having 2 different balances for 2 separate accounts for 1 user!!!! It all needs to be merged and streamlined dammitt!

Ren

#32

Ren said:

surely, It's a game made for fanboys and anyone who grew up with those games in the periphery. It is remarkably well designed, while the gameplay does feel tight and modern and the graphics are 8 bit but varied and funny. This is specific parody of many NES games of the time (and pop culture/movies) so it really does largely speak to 30-somethings right now, so if you were born in the 90's some of it may well miss you a little. For me it's like it was made with me sitting there the whole time saying exactly what I want.

ThomasBW84Admin

#33

ThomasBW84 said:

For those mentioning a review, we're aiming for Sunday or at the latest Monday. It's coming, we do have to play it a fair bit first...

SteveW

#34

SteveW said:

@Ren - I felt the same way and what other game is going to send you on a quest for stuff like a 72 pin connector? LOL ...for those who don't know, it's the cartridge connector inside a NES console, I've replaced many of those over the years.

Rawk_Hawk

#35

Rawk_Hawk said:

I downloaded it that helps. The game is very funny. I don't have a Wii U so does that mean the old Wii shop cannot be accessed on the Wii U?

MattL

#37

MattL said:

I completely agree with Ren, Wildfire & SteveW, and the chorus of positives. This game oozes love, charm and dedication. A modern classic. I'm still laughing at the Flux Combobulator, or whatever. Ludicrously ingenious :) And how refreshing to hear such commitment from a developer. A rare breed indeed.

NImH

#39

NImH said:

@Vayby_Brown I agree that it is imposing to say something is a gift when you have to pay to receive it... But I still want it.

SteveW

#40

SteveW said:

The developer doesn't decide the price on the Wii, Nintendo does. If it were up to the developer it just might be free seeing how he won't get any money anyway.

eltomo

#41

eltomo said:

Got this for the xBox, but I want this for the Wii because this was the system it was designed for!

Moshugan

#43

Moshugan said:

Aww, man! I feel like wanting to buy this a second time just to support Mr. Provinciano!

SteveW

#44

SteveW said:

Not a bad idea really... I wouldn't mind having this on my Wii also...

Mk_II

#45

Mk_II said:

darn... think ive only got 900 points left on my Wii account and im not going to fill it up anymore.

millarrp

#46

millarrp said:

I picked up my copy yesterday and so far I'm enjoying it...I'm glad he went through with it

Sean_Aaron

#47

Sean_Aaron said:

Well, I think I might just trade in those mouldering club stars and get this after all...

Blizzaga

#48

Blizzaga said:

I was gonna hold off on getting this for a little while, but after reading this article, I wanted to do my best to support the developer, so I went and bought it from WiiWare today! And it's a really great game! I really hope that enough people buy this that it will meet the threshold.

sonic_brawler95

#50

sonic_brawler95 said:

Can't wait to read the interview!
Right now, I'm loving RCR, and I'm so thankful that it finally made its way to WiiWare! Thanks VBlank! :D

RADencker

#51

RADencker said:

Developers: Take notice, this is how it's done! VBlank totally nailed it. I am not a fan of these open world GTA style games, but this is cool. I love the Arcade Missions he has in the game.

Plus, the different graphics filters are a cool addition, totally wasnt expecting that level of detail.

Even if you're not a fan of WiiWare, GET THIS GAME!! HELP VBLANK HIT THE SALES THRESHOLD SO HE CAN GET PAID!

I know he said this was basically a gift to Nintendo users, lets give him a gift of high sales so he gets paid.

Nintendo should do the right thing here and pay out sooner or contribute to this outstanding developer.

FineLerv

#53

FineLerv said:

Okay. I'm sold. If this is on AuWiiWare, I'll buy it. Let's show this guy how the hardcore Nintendo community has his back, ey?

zeeroid

#54

zeeroid said:

What a damn shame. It's really sad he couldn't find a way to get it on either of the eShops. I've unfortunately been put off from buying this game after a very mixed reception, but if it were on the Wii U, I might've picked it up anyway, just for the hell of it.

chiptoon

#55

chiptoon said:

Its so frustrating - I can't get connected to the Wii Shop, not with my Wii (I thought for a long time there was something wrong with it) but now I can't connect my WiiU either. It connects to the eShop just fine, just won't go online in Wii mode. And I wan this game soooo badly

StarDust4Ever

#57

StarDust4Ever said:

I just downloaded it. I don't think he has anything to worry about not selling enough copies. RetroCity Rampage is number 10 on the popular downloads list in the Wiiware category right now! :)

goldbricks23

#58

goldbricks23 said:

I downloaded it last after reading this article. I was thinking of downloading at some point but this guy deserves my money. Would have liked it on the WiiU but I had spare points on my Wii.

DarkEdi

#59

DarkEdi said:

I need to put like 5000 points to download a lot of games in my wishlist, of course Retro City is one of them. (i think 10, 000 will be ok, i want a lot of VC games and a couple more of Wiiware tytles).

sketchturner

#60

sketchturner said:

@russellohh
True, but some of us put a lot of value specifically upon NintendoLife's reviews. It's a valuable thing to find a site whose opinions generally reflect your own.

WaxxyOne

#61

WaxxyOne said:

Hmmm, I wasn't sure about this one, but I might buy it just to support this man.

SKTTR

#62

SKTTR said:

Bought this game, and it's awesome. Just 58 blocks, that's ca. 7MB, far from the 40MB WiiWare limit (and probably the smallest WiiWare file size ever). And it's crammed with content and detail and it's just really fun. That's how WiiWare is done right. My 132nd WiiWare game, and my 6th 10/10 on the service (My Life as a King, World of Goo, Hydroventure, MotoHeroz, La-Mulana, Retro City Rampage) Respect to Vblank!

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