"The Platform Hasn't Been A Success For Many"
Beamdog boss Trent Oster has clarified his earlier (and highly inflammatory) thoughts about Nintendo, the Wii and Wii U; reiterating his belief that Nintendo are difficult to work with on downloadable games. Not only that, but the ex-BioWare developer still isn't sold on the Wii U, and reckons that it could well be viewed as a toy or gimmick.
Addressing Nintendo World Report after savaging Nintendo policy on Twitter two days ago, Oster elaborated on a number of his points. First and foremost was his awkward relationship with the publisher during development of last year's MDK 2 WiiWare release, which ostensibly demonstrated that "the platform hasn't been a success for many developers outside of Nintendo." Beamdog still hasn't seen a return on their hard work.
The 40MB size limit on WiiWare makes it very difficult to bring larger games to the platform. We had to go to war on MDK2 to get it to fit within the 40MB constraints, taking a 400 plus megabyte game and cutting it a full order of magnitude in size. We put a lot of effort into managing the compromises to get the game down in size and still keep the quality level high.
When we shipped MDK2 there was a large confusion about demos on the platform and we never got a straight answer if demos were allowed. We were not allowed to set the price, Nintendo set the pricing, telling us after a week it would be 1000 points. As well, there was never any discussion of doing a sale or promoting the title. This all contributed to a title we worked very hard on not getting any differentiation from other titles in the WiiWare store. The result was large disappointment with the platform.
Oster continued to suggest that the Wii was "gimmick," and that many consumers only bought a couple of games for the system. The result was a "toy" rather than a console, featuring plentiful shovelware "that really hurt the perception of third party titles on the Wii as a whole."
He's also not convinced that the Wii U can compete in the changing marketplace, which now revolves around two very different kinds of game.
For the Wii U, I once again don't get it. I'm having a hard time seeing how a tablet controller & console system is going to be revolutionary. I could be wrong, but I think the gaming world has changed irrevocably and there are now two fronts: Triple A console titles which resemble blockbuster movies and freemium/app store titles which are closer to television.
The PC platform bridges both models, which makes it an interesting target to develop for. To me, the Wii U doesn't fit into either model and I see a lot of difficulty for it on either front. The app store/freemium model has redefined consumer pricing expectations, making consumers much less likely to invest $60 in a title without playing it first. The triple "A" model focuses on delivering the experience you expect at the agreed upon price, which is going to be hard to sell conceptually with a new platform like the Wii U. I wish Nintendo the best and I hope they can hit big with a major success.
Oster certainly raises a very important point: Nintendo absolutely must deliver a strong, competitive and online marketplace with the Wii U in order to compete with PSN, XBLA and Steam, complete with plentiful demos. The 3DS eShop is slowly starting to resemble that vision, but there's still a lot of work to be done yet.