News Article

Nintendo Outlines Developer Support, and a Goal to Address the "Misconception" of Wii U's Capabilities

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Unity and Nintendo Web Framework to play key roles

The Wii U is a system with many positives and exciting features, but with revealed and soon-to-be-revealed competitors from Sony and Microsoft on the horizon, there are some concerns and challenges as well. Two of these are third-party development support — a topic that goes back to the Wii days — and the system's technological strength; will it have the processing power and memory to deliver games to a standard that consumers expect in the years to come?

Both topics were put to Satoru Iwata by investors recently. After addressing an initial part of the question admitting that some projects such as Pikmin 3 were "understaffed" when Wii U launched, and stating that making profits from big-budget projects is an increasing challenge, the Nintendo boss outlined the support Nintendo is offering to developers of various types. He covered the Nintendo Web Framework and support for the Unity engine, both of which offer a broad variety of experiences, before reiterating that utilising the technical capabilities of Wii U is a case of using its resources effectively.

In addition, we have started working to expand the range of software developers for Wii U, as I announced in the Corporate Management Policy Briefing in January. As I mentioned just before, the development challenges for home console games selling for around $50-$60 have increased significantly. Around the time when I first wrote a program for a home console game 30 years ago, two developers, including me, completed it in only three months. Things have changed dramatically since then, and we therefore need to expand the range of software developers. We made two announcements at GDC held in San Francisco in late March. One is "Nintendo Web Framework," which is the development environment used for "Wii Street U powered by Google" I mentioned earlier and some VOD services available for Wii U. The number of developers who can use versatile web technologies such as HTML5 and JavaScript is probably more than 100 times larger than that of the current software developers for dedicated gaming machines. We would like them to create software for our console. "Wii Street U powered by Google" was actually developed by a very compact team whose core members had never developed games for dedicated gaming machines. As I have already mentioned, the application has been and will be updated constantly by a small development team, which means that the development environment has enabled us to significantly reduce development challenges. Since our announcement at GDC, we have received inquiries about it from hundreds of new development companies and individuals. We believe there will be something novel and fascinating from their development work, thereby expanding the range of the software available for Wii U.

The other thing we announced was that developers can now use Unity, a cross-platform video game engine, for Wii U development, and we have started offering it to the developers. There are over a million Unity developers, including many in developing countries where the business of dedicated gaming machines is not prosperous. We would like to create opportunities for these developers to have their games available for Wii U. We hope that these actions to expand the range of software developers, in addition to the functions of Nintendo eShop and payments through e-money I mentioned before, will give us new business possibilities.

As you stated, it is a fact that some software development companies assume that Wii U is not powerful enough. On the contrary, some developers say in interviews that Wii U has a different architecture from other consoles and that, when utilized in the right way, it can perform well. At the moment, there is a great deal of contradictory information. Nintendo is required to make more efforts to dispel such a misconception. In fact, some software companies are actively supporting Wii U and others are not. It is important to have supportive companies enjoy successful sales of a game and feel that their decision to develop something for Wii U was correct. We understand that this cannot possibly be achieved overnight and it may sound unconvincing under the current slow sales of Wii U. We would like to work to revitalize the Wii U market and show you favorable results for third-party software from this summer.

Both Unity and the Web Framework have been key messages from Nintendo towards smaller developers, in particular, encouraging these studios by showing that publishing games on the Wii U eShop can be a simple, inexpensive process. We also know that Nintendo is planning to help developers based in Japan localise more of their titles to the West on 3DS and Wii U, while we hope those "favorable results" for 3rd party support in the summer will include some significant titles.

It's not all negative on the third-party front for the Wii U, with Ubisoft still very active on the system and signs of increasing interest from smaller and indie publishers. Let us know your thoughts on Iwata-san's comments below.

[via nintendo.co.jp]

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User Comments (63)

Rief

#2

Rief said:

We're working with Unity right now, since we plan to release our Game on the WiiU

rjejr

#3

rjejr said:

Iwata seems to have a firm grasp of reality, which might be a surprise to those who see him as some clown on the Nintendo Directs. I just hope he's capable of doing what he knows must be done to turn things around before it is too late.

OK, so I know I'm late to the party on this, but what exactly is the Unity engine for? Does it make WiiU games portable to other systems or the 3DS or does it port iOS games or PSN XboxArcade $15 games to WiiU eShop? I'm guessing it's not for $60 retail titles on the PS3 or Xbox360. I tried wiki but couldn't find it.

PinkSpider

#4

PinkSpider said:

I just want to know how powerful the console truly is, when that tech demo came out of Zelda I was blown away at the possibilities of HD Nintendo games. Nothing yet has blown me away and I'm starting to wonder if anything on the.console ever will.

bigskidboy

#5

bigskidboy said:

i think Nintendo should give up trying to flog this stop gap underpowered console and go back to the drawing board while there's still time

Legromancer

#6

Legromancer said:

Sorry Iwata, but 3rd parties won't come. And like we saw first party titles aren't enough. This year is going to be dry.
Even IF some third parties are successful many will just focus on NextBox and PS4. That's what E3 will be like.
And i don't see how no marketing will help. Nintendo screwed bigtime.

Jaco

#7

Jaco said:

@Rief what kind of game are you working on?

My brother has done some work with unity and is currently developing a game for the uya system. I keep talking to him about the eshop and hope he will develop a game for It in the future

Moshugan

#8

Moshugan said:

"...admitting that some projects such as Pikmin 3 were "understaffed" when Wii U launched..."
Well, this should explain any delay that had to occur and the few shortcomings people have moaned about.
In other words, Nintendo still isn't used to such tasking development.

GiftedGimp

#10

GiftedGimp said:

It seems the technical capability of each console will be WiiU will be a little behind the Kinectbox, which in turn will be a little behind the Ps4, making the lack of power excuses some devs use for not releasing games on WiiU redundant, especially since most devs work with scalable game engines.
When it comes to the bigger 3rd party support the main issue for the most part is Wii was way to underpowered to be have the big games that graced the 360/Ps3, and as a result 3rd party developers were able to build on thier relationahip with MS/Sony while also being able to build a big franchise fanbase on Ps3/360. Meanwhile Nintendo relationships with 3rd party publishers stagnated and now Nintendo are having a hard time rejuvenating the buisness relationships because 3rd party developers believe that thier main audience will be on Ps4 and Kinectbox.

This problem is compounded by the fact that as much as WiiU owners scream 'we want 3rd party games' on forums and Miiverse and the like, when it comes down to it WiiU owners won't part with thier cash for 3rd party titles.. Look at Injustice, released about the same time as other platforms, bar a week, and still has had low sales. Even if Nintendo can get more publishers onboard, how long will they stay if games wont sell?

As much as I have no interest in MS/Sony as over the years I more & more disliked the direction they are taking with thier systems, hence why I returned to Nintendo with the WiiU, I and a lot people will not be satisfied with only eShop indie games and only Nintendo published games, and unless the WiiU userbase starts showing 3rd party developers support buy buying thier games thats what will happen to WiiU, no matter how hard Nintendo themselves try to get/keep 3rd party developers onboard.

real_gamer

#11

real_gamer said:

I don't know why Nintendo just didn't increase the staff size. By increasing the staff size it wouldn't be: understaffed, no game delay, and still releasing a AAA quality game on time. These actions makes me think "why didn't Nintendo worked on the Wii U hardware more before releasing it" or "where is the Wii U advertisememt" or "why didn't the Wii U have the Wii hardware install from the get go". I mean these things are the most simple things to even think of before the GamePad layout so why wasn't it thought of?

bigskidboy

#12

bigskidboy said:

I really just do not understand why Nintendo did not have the foresight to create a console that would have been at least competitive with the next gen.

GiftedGimp

#13

GiftedGimp said:

@bigskidboy Thats what Nintendo, and some 3rd party devs are saying.. IT IS competitive.
Eg- Ps3 on Paper was 1.5 to 2.0x more powerfull than the 360.. but architecture limited it to be on par, or slighly more powerfull than 360.
WiiU efficient architecture plays a large part in what the WiiU is capable of, but its a system developets need to learn to make the most of its architecture.

AVahne

#15

AVahne said:

@rjejr
Simply put, it's a game engine just like the CryEngines and Unreal Engines. And like those engines it is very scalable, so it can be used on a wide variety of systems. Though I think it might be more scalable than those other engines. I'm not too sure on the details of it anymore, but I believe it's an engine that is evolving very fast despite being developed by a smaller team of programmers than other engines.

sonicfan1373

#16

sonicfan1373 said:

@bigskidboy

The Wii U is made of custom hardware and software so it is difficult to precisely measure its performance with other consoles and developers can do a lot with the hardware if they take the time to optimize their games. For example, one of the developers behind Metro: Last Light complained about the Wii U's slow processor clock speeds, but what he did not talk about was how the Wii U's architecture is better geared for parallel processing than the other systems on the market (with its out-of-order design and high bandwidth and large cache between its cores). Also, I think it is fair to mention that the Playstation 4's specifications are not as good as Sony is making them out to be, but third-parties do not complain because they have an established and profitable place in the Playstation eco-system.

Furthermore, Nintendo is no longer developing consoles that put the majority of focus on computational power because it did not give them the best results with the Nintendo 64 and it did not at all work for them with the Gamecube. It does not matter how powerful Nintendo makes the hardware if big third party companies have a negative perception about the console ecosystem.

Case and point, Epic brought over Unreal Engine 3 but they said they were not going to support the Wii U with their own games. EA is not supporting the system despite the fact that it can run many of their games. Many other companies are doing quick rush jobs with their games. The problem with these third parties is not that the console is not powerful enough, it is just that they believe that they cannot make a profit on Nintendo systems and so they are coming up with excuses not to develop games (like Konami's excuse that they did not know how to use the Gamepad for Metal Gear Solid).

AVahne

#18

AVahne said:

@real_gamer
Perhaps they were understaffed because they had to move people to other projects? We don't understand how these companies work, so all we can do is complain and complain.

bigskidboy

#20

bigskidboy said:

@sonicfan1373 Well whatever the power I know that I will have to buy one when Zelda comes out anyway I will not be able to resist, but I so wish that it could have run all the latest game engines without scaling them down, imagine Zelda running using the latest game engines at full whack ooooh

armoredghor

#21

armoredghor said:

With Unity and the web framework, Nintendo is doing a lot to bring in new devs. Its very easy to develop on unity. I'm doing it now in my free time and would like to localize it to WiiU if I invest in the dev kits. Obviously as stated in the quote, developers are excited to come to WiiU, but knowing a dev cycle, it could be a couple years before we see a big one

PinkSpider

#22

PinkSpider said:

@giftedgimp I would happily buy 3rd party titles on Wii U if we actually got decent versions and not inferior versions of the 7 year old console equivalents.
Its a joke that we do not get the same game as everyone else and that is whats hurting sales.

BATRA

#25

BATRA said:

does this mean we might get lost planet 3 for the wii u please let it happen

Nintenjoe64

#26

Nintenjoe64 said:

I thought the original excuse was the 3DS. The 3DS struggled so they couldn't fully focus on Wii U..?

real_gamer

#27

real_gamer said:

@Koto valid point about understanding how the companies work but why move people other projects when you have a new video game console to sell (if that's the case), I'm just pointing out things that we all know the Big N could have avoided and should be doing but some how that is not the case.

SpaceApe

#28

SpaceApe said:

Doesn't matter how powerful the Wii U is. Without great games the console will never sell. There isn't a game this year that is going to make people go out and buy a Wii U. By that time noone will care about the Wii U because the PS4 and Nextbox will be more powerful and have better games that people will want to play. Everyone has grown up except for Nintendo.

hms

#29

hms said:

Only Iwata can pull these, turn 3rd party talk to indie devs instead. lol . They must been too busy with 3ds, so no enough resources for u.

SCAR392

#30

SCAR392 said:

You guys are crazy. PS4 and Xbox 1080 will go through just as much of a transition next gen, except with different hardware since they had already established an online interface.
Don't expect there to be tons of games on PS4 or Xbox launch. It's not gonna happen, and they will need WAY bigger development teams, money, and more support to be able to even get their consoles off the ground.
Nintendo is gathering ALOT of large and small companies to be working on their console, because devs working on as small a scale as iOS to mid Unreal Engine 4 have a place on Wii U, while PS4 and Xbox will be catering to bigger companies that can actually dev on their platforms.
All the doom and gloom people need to think before they speak. If we really look at what the next gen consoles will bring, PS4 is the only console on the market that won't be bringing anything completely new to consumers.
If you know anything about consumer electronics, you should be able to see that Nintendo will have a place in a market PS4 and Xbox won't be able to reach.

QuickSilver88

#31

QuickSilver88 said:

@SpaceApe: Who says there are no compelling games coming this year for Wii-U? We already know Bayonetta 2 ( which people were complaining wont be on other systems), W101, Zelda WW HD, MarioKart, Mario3D, Pikman3, WiiFit, LuigiDLC and other 1st part titltes are coming. Then on the 3rd party from all of UBIs titles are coming, Batman, looks like COD Ghost, still possible GTA5 and some others that will surely be announced at E3 because Sega and Capcom have said they both have projects in the works. I own all systems so will play good games no matter where they appear but Wii-U should have worthwhile content later this year. Additinally Nintendo is making all the right mives with the Indy scene and eShop has more announced content coming than Sony or Microsoft. Meanwhile Nextbox and PS4 will be getting all the same multiplatform titles as x360 and ps4 which will use current generation engines and will not blow us away. The games Microsoft has leaked as exclusives are weak and while Sony has shown a few compelling launch titltes what do you want to bet 1/2 of them slip into 2014. No console ever (and I have owned them all since the Atari 2600) has shown its best stuff at launch or in the first generation of games. Next spring while ps4 and nextbox are struggling thru their infancy Wii-U will have dozens of quality titles and a significant price advantage.

Ren

#32

Ren said:

http://unity3d.com/unity/
get a free version, you can do a lot with it. I'm trying to soldier through basic things now, it's not for the impatient ones, but it's cheap/free and extremely flexible.
I can't say much on WiiU. Regardless of what it can or can't do, it doesn't matter at all if no one knows it exists except drooling Nintendo nerds. It's great that it's flexible, and supported or whatever, but I haven't met ANYONE who knows what it is (besides on here). I have met people that are all excited about the other consoles coming out, into games or not. It's time to crank up the Hype.

milojica

#33

milojica said:

About the under staffed problem. In software development process adding more programmers in already established team can very much lower productivity of a team.

NintendoPro64

#34

NintendoPro64 said:

@SCAR392 @QuickSilver88
Good to know there are people in these forums with brains. Honestly, how people are not expecting PS4 and 720 to have growing pains too is beyond me. Just you wait, they are going to have a rough start too, especially since they are releasing around the same time and at a time Wii U will be getting AAA hits.

And about third parties, yeah....Nintendo was SHAFTED! Here's the thing. Third parties always whine about how Nintendo's games dominate them in the sales charts. So the idea Nintendo had (as well as with 3DS), was to let third parties shine with no BIG first party games to compete with and have them promote their games on the console. But unfortunately, third parties gave Nintendo the finger...TWICE. And come this Christmas when sales spike, you'll be hearing all these third parties whining about their games not selling. sigh Sometimes you just can't win with people. :(

MrGawain

#35

MrGawain said:

Seems to me Nintendo has quite good relationship with a lot of Japanese developers (Capcom, Namco, Platinum, and it'll only be time for Konami to join that party) and Ubisoft, but the only US publishers that have supported it are Warner Games (old and new Arkham, 3 Lego games and Scribblenauts), and Activision (which built Skylanders on the Wii). Is it a Japanese/American divide that American developers can't get? And is it the reason Iwata is taking more interest in the US operation- Is he trying to sweeten relationships withTake 2, EA, and the rest?

bunnyking

#36

bunnyking said:

Finally the Wii U will be supporting HTML5, Java and Unity?
Support for these technologies should have been out since launch but, that is a really exciting thing. That sounds awesome.

banacheck

#37

banacheck said:

SCAR392
Don't expect there to be tons of games on PS4, It's not gonna happen, and they will need WAY bigger development teams, money, and more support to be able to even get their consoles off the ground.

They've already started the work over 2 years back for games , and have been speaking & working with 3rd party support for a period of around 5 years for the PS4 while they where getting the PS3 off the ground. All this information is out to be read, Sony has the strongest launch line up in Playstation history.

http://www.videogamer.com/ps4/watch_dogs/news/ps4_will_have_the_strongest_launch_line-up_in_playstation_history.html

This does sound good for indie dev's for the Wii U, so a least there is some sort of 3rd party support.

bunnyking

#38

bunnyking said:

@NintendoPro64

It's hard not point out certain things without sound like fanboys, but you are right. It's almost as if no one remembers how system launches are anymore. Every system launch I remember had problems and I usually didn't buy a new system till about a year or two into it because of it.

I am very happy with my Nintendo Wii U, but the media is tearing it up.

ikki5

#39

ikki5 said:

@SpaceApe

hmm, we don't even know the game line up for the PS4 or the Nextbox, heck we don't even know the name of the nextbox so how can you claim that they will have better games when you truly don't know. If past experience serves me right, it will be similar to the Wii U was with some good games at release, and some bad ones, and then you'll have a small drought where people will complain. And from last gen, we all learned that more power does not mean better

Zaphod_Beeblebrox

#40

Zaphod_Beeblebrox said:

I have an unpleasant gut feeling (hunch) that the "Nintendo Web Framework" will come to be known as the "Nintendo Shovelware Enabler". I hope I'm wrong.

hms

#42

hms said:

So someone thinks that he'll ports like say unreal engine to html5 ?
Wasn't the post about 3rd party support, not what launch games some had/will have.

SCAR392

#44

SCAR392 said:

@banacheck
Yes, but if we are really gonna compare Nintendo to Sony(which it sounds like most do), Nintendo will have WAY more games by the time PS4 shows up.
Wii U may have had a rough launch, but it will no longer be the launch period for Wii U when PS4 comes out. PS4 will just be launching with a few known games, and games like Pikmin 3, Zelda WW HD, TW101, Game and Wario, and possibly Mario Kart will be showing up on Wii U. Watch_Dogs and AC4 will be on both platforms.

SCAR392

#45

SCAR392 said:

Along with what is already available like Tekken, Injustice, etc. late releases on last gen consoles.

hms

#46

hms said:

Launch was fine, support maybe not so. Launch would have been even better if there was killer app ,1st or 3rd party.

PokeTune

#47

PokeTune said:

So, Nintendo believes using Unity to court indies(which have nowhere near the mainstream appeal of AAA games)will save the Wii U? Wow...good luck Ninty, you`ll need it.

timp29

#48

timp29 said:

Interesting that Iwata says 'some developers actively support us while others do not'. And then he talks about misconceptions. Nintendo needs to make known the WiiU's capabilities in an easily digestible format for developers to dispel these misconceptions.

It sounds like WiiU is a tad different to previous systems in terms of how you approach development to get the most out of the machine. If only half of developers get this fact, Nintendo needs to address this fast.

Pod

#49

Pod said:

I'm a Unity developer, and I'm stoked at the opportunity to one day within the foreseeable future to develop for the Wii U.

I suck at HTML5, but it's very interesting for me as a player the possibilities the web environment opens up.

Legromancer

#50

Legromancer said:

@Koto
can you please explain why i am a troll?
You know, many people feel this way.
Why should 3rd parties start to develop for the Wii U? It doesn't sell well, there is almost no marketing for it, store sell it for a loss to get rid of it and exept WB and Ubisoft non multi platform titles get announced for Wii U. I don't see this trend changing. You know, it would be great to have some games to play between the Nintendo releases.
When was the last time we saw an announcement from a third party that isn't for the eshop?
So again, why am i a troll? I bought the Wii U, and almost a half year later it looks like it wasn't worth the money. It just bombed hard. That is the truth.

GiftedGimp

#51

GiftedGimp said:

@PinkSpider ZombiU has only reached a decent number of sales but thats over a long period of time and there being a ZombiU bundle.
Injustice, released a week later than ps3/360 very low WiiU sales.
NFSMW Yes an older game, but improved textures than on other consolesand additional Content
Ac3 Only held back a short time for WiiU launch
Deus EX out soon and an old game, but supposedly vastly superior visuals to all other platforms including PC, tweaked gameplay, all dlc properly intergrated.. but again will be hardly brought.
Yes whilst some of the above are older titles, there has been significant improvments to other versions, and the rest were released roughly at the same time, very little difference.

The old game reasoning only holds up on a few games as does the inferior reasoning which is decided more by opinions rather than technical fact as others would say these games perform as well on WiiU as on other platforms which yeah I agree shouldn't be the case.

But to say people would buy 3rd party if they wasn't inferior or old releases on other consoles doesn't explain why people havn't brought 3rd party titles like the new Injustice, Upgraded titles like NFSMW, or exclusive titles like ZombiU.

Legromancer

#52

Legromancer said:

@GiftedGimp
yes, it looks like some people can't accept that the Wii U launch wasn't very great. There are not many great things about it. I am sorry, but it looks grim, and Iwata didn't change my mood about this. It just shows how much he is out of touch. It needs more than just say ''it will get better some day''.
It had a one year advantage from the other new consoles and that didn't help.
Nintendo had enough time to prepare for the HD age but it didn't.
We first heard about Wii U in what, 2011? Somebody remember this Developers reel they showed? Didn't turn out well, did it?

SCAR392

#53

SCAR392 said:

@PokeTune
The mainstream appeal for smaller devs comes from having smaller titles on the eShop. It would be impossible to sell a $1-10 game at retail.

As for launch woes, look at every other launch. It's always the same for any console.

CountEkkiM

#54

CountEkkiM said:

just make 3rd party games to wiiu. its stupid if you are playstation fan ps3 is all you need for gaming but if you are nintendo fan wiiu isnt enought, you have to get another console to play 3rd party games and thats the weakest point from nintendo, it cant pleasure all gamers.. i love to see bioshock wiiu.

jayblue

#55

jayblue said:

when the big two come out will nintendo drop price of games,nope will we pay top end for games that are just coping with 360 and ps3 games nope,where will nintendo price its games when true next gen appears.why the hell did nintendo not release a console as powerful as the other two.

RikuzeYre

#56

RikuzeYre said:

Because as powerful as the other two wouldnt make sense financially and it wouldnt get them the required support

Slapshot

#57

Slapshot said:

I have an absolute ton of respect for the Unity team and what they are doing for indie developers.

With that said, you don't build The Legend of Zelda and other triple-A titles on the Unity Engine. It's the triple-A titles that sell dedicated gaming consoles, so banking on the Unity Engine is not the answer to selling the Wii U for Nintendo. I've always said that Unity + Wii U's numerous control options will blossom fantastic indie titles though.

jayblue

#58

jayblue said:

how do you work that one out,so you want to play games on old hardware.buy a snes.

bassoongoon

#60

bassoongoon said:

What is it with this focus on indie games lately? I have nothing against indie games and developers, however it seems like indie games are creating obnoxious hipsterism within the gaming community.

banacheck

#61

banacheck said:

SCAR392
Don't expect there to be tons of games on PS4.
Yes, but if we are really gonna compare Nintendo to Sony.

I wasn't comparing anything i was replying to this (Don't expect there to be tons of games on PS4).

GiftedGimp

#63

GiftedGimp said:

@Legromancer WiiU launch hasn't been the best and Nintendo admited they should of done better.
But the biggest problem isn't lack of hardware sales, its the reluctance of the WiiU owners to buy 3rd party games, which is un-doing any steps taken by Nintendo to get more 3rd Party support.

Lack of advertising, launch prep and first party games is down to Nintendo,
Lack of 3rd party support, some of it was due to lost relationships with Wii, some of it is down to the likes EA turning thier back prior to launch as they didn't get want they wanted, Some of it is Nintendo owners not buying 3rd party games that are released on WiiU.

To get more 3rd party support Nintendo need to keep building thier relationships up, whilst at the same time WiiU owners need to buy 3rd party titles.

All is not lost though, and to some degree the media are manipulating things to sound more dire than they actually are. Despite the fanboy claims its still unknown how well the Kinectbox & Ps4 launches will go, and how many games will be available at launch.
They only thing people can know is due to supply manipulation, both the Kinectbox and Ps4 will have headlines saying MS/Sony struggling to keep up with demand. Both Sony and MS and some say Nintendo with the Wii controlled unit supply numbers to artificially create these headlines at the 360/Ps3 launches.

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