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

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]