News Article

Small Developers Coming to the Wii U eShop Outline Positives and Negatives

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Wii U "has a veritable toybox of controller options to play with"

With last week's reveal of a series of new titles coming to the Wii U eShop later this year and into 2014, we've seen the first wave of what could become a steady stream of new developers and projects for the platform; in a lot of cases these are multiplatform titles, with some coming from studios new to Nintendo hardware.

Although the reveal was focused on European and Australian developers specifically, it nevertheless showed some reward for Nintendo's efforts to be accommodating to small developers, as well as the positives of the Wii U's Unity development tools that are available free of charge. A number of these studios answered some key questions with Gamasutra, and Steffen Kabbelgaard Grønning of BetaDwarf (releasing Forced on the system) succinctly explained why, despite the console's modest install-base to date, the decision to release on the Wii U eShop was a simple one.

We developed Forced in Unity, which makes the porting much easier. And since Wii U has the Pro Controller with dual sticks we might be looking at a porting period of two to three weeks. If that's the case, it is basically viable business for us if we sell 5000-plus units.

In general, similar comments were given when asked about whether recent Wii U sales were a concern, with some citing confidence that the system would prove its value in the medium to long term; the low investment needed to release on the system was another reassuring factor. In terms of what Nintendo can do better, there was some sentiment that the Wii U eShop layout and purchasing processes could be improved, marketing was a common topic where as much support as possible is desired, and Kabbelgaard raised an interesting idea of Nintendo paying for exclusives — a tactic certainly employed on other platforms.

Indies are usually economically pressed, and so are we. My partner and I recently loaned $200,000 at personal risk, to pay for our 10 person team the next few months before release. Hence if Nintendo would help pay for the port in favor of a few months of console exclusivity, I would find that helpful. Additionally marketing and featuring our game would indeed also be helpful, and I'm frankly counting on that.

In terms of whether these developers would recommend the Wii U eShop to others, for the most part the answers were positive. Some are naturally waiting to see how sales stack up, while those that utilise Unity declare that to be a big advantage. Rhodri Broadbent's Dakko Dakko studio is bringing Scram Kitty And His Buddy on Rails exclusively to Wii U, and he was particularly positive.

Without hesitation. It's great fun making a Wii U game. The system is plenty powerful, has a veritable toybox of controller options to play with, and unique features like Miiverse, making it a very creative platform to develop on. If you're the sort of developer who enjoys experimentation, it's an especially good fit.

For some of the new studios sales will clearly be an important factor, in terms of whether they'll return after their first release, while some are clearly looking ahead with a degree of optimism due to the relative ease with which games on the Unity engine can be ported. With Ripstone also telling us that the Wii U is in its plans for a number of projects into 2014, it seems that the eShop is shaping up to include some solid content in the coming months and years.

Time will tell in terms of momentum and quality of releases, clearly, but how optimistic are you about the Wii U eShop and its potential games library?

[via gamasutra.com]

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User Comments (10)

Sean_Aaron

#2

Sean_Aaron said:

Any concerns I would have about the Wii U library would be concerns I'd have about Indie games generally. I'm wondering if Unity games will have a similar look-and-feel the way flash-based games do. Are we going to see an ocean of platformers with the only distinction being art style or a slightly clever twist?

I have stuff to play on the system regardless so I don't have any concerns about that really, but more for the industry in general. If the AAA titles end up sinking under the weight of bloated retreads and the indie scene starts to look like a sea of "me-too" games with only the odd inspirational title then we could have another crash on our hands.

element187

#3

element187 said:

Indie studios will be far more successful the quicker they release on the eShop rather than later.

The retail gaming drought pushes alot of Wii U owners in the indie direction while we wait for _____ game. And the less competition you have on the eShop, the more successful your title will be. But if you release along with a flurry of other indie devs, your game might not reach its full potential because of saturation of indie titles.

So chop chop, put that game out ASAP to reel in more cash.

element187

#4

element187 said:

@Sean_Aaron unity 4.0 games can look as good as retail level of games if the developers are talented enough. You can do flash looking games on it sure, but you can also do full 3d polygon work if you choose to..... The engine might not be as full feature as Unreal eng 4, Cry Eng3 or Frostbyte 3, but I think most gamers wouldn't be able to pinpoint the differences. How many gamers do you suppose that can point out dynamic lighting or tessalation?

DePapier

#5

DePapier said:

I only read the direct quotes from developers and I haven't found any true negative for indies to working on the Wii U...

ThomasBW84Admin

#6

ThomasBW84 said:

@DePapier There's the odd quote or two in the Gamasutra article that candidly point out areas that could still be better, which I summarised. Overall, though, Nintendo seems to be doing a lot right, which I think will be really important for the system in 2014 and beyond. If Holiday sales are good I'd hope Nintendo would try and secure a few more exclusives for the eShop, too.

shingi_70

#7

shingi_70 said:

@DePapier

I don't think there are that many negative's per say but areas where Nintendo could stand to improve in. My biggest one would be forcing mandatory demo's for all eshop games similar to Xbox Live.

Tuurtledove

#8

Tuurtledove said:

The eShop certainly feels like one of the more dynamic online stores out there at the moment. With the ability for developers to put their games on discounts/sale at the touch of a button.

Thank you so much for the article Thomas. It's good to have some positive news sometimes amongst all the "Doom+Gloom" prophecies that constantly arise from analysts. And hearing the Nintendo has set up a decent system for Indie developers is good news indeed

Ambermoon

#9

Ambermoon said:

@Sony_70

Demo for every game on the eshop is exactly what I think everytime when a download title is released and I can't try it out to. The XBox Live marketplace is really great at this point.

EaZy_T

#10

EaZy_T said:

I just wish Wasteland 2 was coming to Wii U.
It would be a perfect fit for the gamepad and I think it's using the Unity engine (fairly easy to port, as per the article above).

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