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United Kingdom

Wed 4th Jan 2012

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RichIconNew commented on Icon Games: "Nintendo's Policies Put Jobs at R...:

TIGA, the trade association representing the UK games industry, today called on Nintendo to explain why it does not allow developers to publish the sales numbers of their self-published titles. TIGA made the comments following the news that Nintendo had refused to allow Icon Games Ltd to publish figures on the sales and free units downloaded for their WiiWare games.



RichIconNew commented on Icon Games: "Nintendo's Policies Put Jobs at R...:

I never made any comment on whether I was disappointed or not with our WiiWare sales figures, and I have little doubt that the WiiWare success stories earned good money.

The point is that Nintendo's policies are unfair, whoever the developer/publisher is.

I think I'll leave it there though, there are only so many posts I can read slating us before it gets a bit too masochistic.

I realise we made mistakes with our games and they were not brilliant titles - we tried hard, and we've learnt a lot. I believe the reviews were too harsh but it is water under the bridge now and we have moved on.

I had no plans to ever really discuss Nintendo or WiiWare again until I received the messages from Nintendo.

The original sales numbers blog entry was something I put together as I was genuinely interested how many of our games were out there, and if you read the article you will see it is a very positive post and made no negative comments on WiiWare. I thought it would be good to share it with other developers.



RichIconNew commented on Icon Games: "Nintendo's Policies Put Jobs at R...:

@stromboli - we are planning to start some form of open discussion on digital sales data shortly to get feedback from other developers/publishers. The subject and issues at hand are far bigger than us, and I think most studios would welcome a change on the current secretive sales data policies.



RichIconNew commented on Icon Games: "Nintendo's Policies Put Jobs at R...:

Regarding the SoccerUp tweet - I was appalled when I read that review and was basically showing my support to the EnjoyUp guys. In hindsight the wording was indeed a little juvenile.

I realise many of you dislike our WiiWare games, although I would be interested to learn how many of you actually tried them, but as I've said before we made some mistakes and you move on and learn from those.

@NintendoMike - to clarify, we never asked or approached Nintendo Life in any way to cover the figures. I think the Tweet may have nudged them

I'm actually surprised how you managed to confuse the distinction between sharing our own numbers, and having access to store wide digital sales data.

I think it would be good to clarify this to avoid any further confusion.

I actually have first-hand experience of trying to obtain finance with no figures to show, and this highlights the point:

During 2010 we approached several banks to request some bridge finance to cover the gap between the release of the titles and the time when the sales thresholds were reached. On any other service this would not have been an issue as you earn revenue from sales straight away.

We showed them our own figures which showed promising early sales, but the thing is those figures are fairly meaningless - especially to a bank.

They wanted to get a view of the wider picture - how other games on the service had performed, how well games within specific genres perform, and so on. The sort of data any financial institution requires before providing funding - especially to a games company, as the games industry is perceived as being a high risk industry.

We couldn't show them any such numbers and their response was negative - in effect I was asking them to finance a business but providing them with none of the traditional market research data they expect.

It was impossible to secure the finance we needed and as a result we had to let one of the team go and were unable to pay wages to the rest of the team for a while. Fortunately the guys stood by us, and our Minis releases then turned things around a little.

I have spoken to other developers too who have very similar stories, and some of whom didn't make it through.

So, regardless of whether you like our WiiWare games or not - this is no way to deal with third parties, who at the end of the day generally try their hardest but are more often than not starved of finance and resources.



RichIconNew commented on Icon Games Breaks WiiWare Sales Figures Silence:

@Hardy83 Also the WiiWare sales is roughly $275k in profit minus whatever Nintendo's cut is. If that means anything to anyone.

If I recall the devs get 65% - but it was actually two years-ish work as we developed Stunt Cars for about a year before it was released.

I've never added up the total revenue - but using your example 65% of $275k is $178 - which in Sterling is approx. £114,000. Over two years that equates to £57,000p/a which covers about 1.5 people per year. On top of that the age ratings costs were a few thousand per title, the e-manual translations a few hundred per title.

So it was a big loss as we had a team of 3 to 4 people full-time, plus contractors. That's why I never worked it out as I was a bit too scared to read the numbers



RichIconNew commented on Icon Games Breaks WiiWare Sales Figures Silence:

@antdickens "Nintendo fans are also used to such highly polished first party games; it's sometimes this that makes WiiWare a painful experience, especially when comparing prices/quality to that of iOS games."

Absolutely. As a small developer I think you really have to get the style and approach right,and think of it as a unique platform. For a company our size I think that would mean to exclusively focus on say WiiWare rather than try cross platform as we did. The BIT.TRIP guys got it, as do Shin'en - and they have produced some brilliant stuff. MotoHeroz is awesome too, and kudos to RedLynx who got the style perfect first time. I imagine their sales will be significantly higher than ours, and fair play - their teams have much better game designers than me.

Our biggest struggle were the thresholds and how long it took to get money, we were more or less bankrupt when we got our first payment, and we never really recouped the investment we put into the titles.

The Minis saved us, and the regular monthly payments were critical for us.

There are some gems on WiiWare, but the risk is great for small teams and unless your cash-flow is super solid, it is very very hard.



RichIconNew commented on Icon Games Breaks WiiWare Sales Figures Silence:

@Linkstrikesback - you're actually happy we won't earn anything from any of the Bashi sales? Wow!

@SandMan - I am sure it comes as little suprise to say we don't have any future WiiWare plans.

@brandonbwii - I would love to be able to make Soccer Bashi free now on WiiWare, we are not ever going to earn anything from it so I'd like to see it free. Unfortunately we can't, but we are making a free PC version this month, and it is free on iPhone too.

I think from our perspective we were really sad at how poor Bashi was received as we really put a lot of love into it and tried to add plenty of extra features to ensure longevity like the editor, custom tournaments, co-op, Boss battles, etc...

It was a simple Arkanoid clone at heart, and in hindsight that was a mistake.

Family Games we were pleased with above all our other WiiWare titles, and I think it was the most suitable for the platform out of the titles we released.

I would certainly argue with anyone who believes we created shovelware - I know how hard we worked on all those titles. At the end of the day we made some mistakes, but we most definately tried as hard as we could and have learnt a lot from our WiiWare experiences.

Looking back our time on WiiWare was painful, but we have moved on now. As mentioned, we have tried to learn as much as possible from the experience and are trying to make better and better games.

I am personally very sorry if anyone bought any of our games and hated it - and if they did, drop me an email and I'll try and make it up to you.

ps. @NL - don't ban me, I promise not to say anything bad - was just keen to get involved I handled the whole reviews thing wrongly at the time, I think I was just emotionally fried back then.