WiiWare Week: Independent developers reveal format-holder's strategy to boost digital download support

Nintendo’s ‘secret war’ on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Store

In the latest intalment in our series of ‘WiiWare week’ features, developers have revealed that Nintendo has been keenly capitalising on publicly-aired frustrations with Xbox Live Arcade to help drive the number of games produced for its imminent digital distribution platform.

According to our sources, Nintendo has been actively briefing studios on what it says is the increased flexibility of WiiWare, from cheaper development through to more flexible pricing, makes it a better service to make games for – painting a stark contrast to the likes of Xbox Live Arcade.

Microsoft recently halved the royalties paid for first-party Xbox Live Arcade from 70 per cent to 35 per cent on games that make under $4m in revenues (the rate rises closer to 50 per cent when the revenues go over that amount, Develop understands), and Nintendo has been keen to take advantage of the anger amongst studios over the changes, directing them towards its own platform instead.

Key to its pitch is that WiiWare isn’t populated by retro releases, unlike Xbox Live Arcade and to a lesser extent the PlayStation Store – something Jeff Minter had previously gone on the record to complain about.

"Nintendo has made it very clear to us that we’ll not only be making a better royalty rate from WiiWare games, but we’ll also have a better chance of selling games – the service won’t be clogged up with the retro titles that have blighted the chances of many independent studios on Xbox Live Arcade," said one studio business development boss, speaking to Develop under conditions of anonymity.

Added another WiiWare developer, who also didn’t want to be named: "Frankly, we’re not looking at making games for Xbox Live Arcade because the service is full of shit," he said, pointing towards the service’s number of retro remakes.

You can read the full report on how Nintendo is waging – and it seems winning – what one developer called a "secret war" here.

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