The CEO at Climax Studios – developer of the acclaimed Silent Hill Shattered Memories – believes that Wii titles for core audiences remain commercially unproven, and therefore increasingly difficult to develop for.
Simon Gardner told Develop that his studio has been able to get the most out of the Wii’s modest tech without too many issues. However he added that a big challenge comes from the Wii’s dichotomised installed base.
“We feel we now understand the hardware and the interface very well,” he said. “But the flip-side to that is that non-Nintendo publishers feel they haven’t done that well on it commercially.
“That’s the biggest issue. From that perspective the Wii is a really difficult device to develop for, because as a hardcore games machine, Wii games are always going to be held up against whatever’s just come out on the Xbox 360 or PS3.
Gardner said he was bored with hearing and reading the obvious differences in graphical power between the Wii and its competitors.
“The second you try to make a gamer’s game for it you will get unflattering comparisons,” he said. “That’s why it’s difficult.”
Gardner went on to express concerns about Wii’s installed base, saying that “despite it being very large, I think the attachment rate is fairly low, and I think that colours publishers’ view on how much they can invest in the system.”
Said Gardner: “I think that ROI’s on Wii games are probably low. I think publishers are very conservative on how much they can spend on it.”
Climax has just recently sent out review copies of Silent Hill Shattered Memories, and so far the game has enjoyed critical praise.
But – as with Visceral Games’ Dead Space Extraction, Platinum Games’ MadWorld and Grasshopper’s No More Heroes – critical acclaim on the Wii does not always result in comparable commercial success.
Asked if he thought Shattered Memories would buck the trend, Gardner remained cautious.
“We just don’t know if hardcore games can succeed on the Wii. I think it’s yet to be proven. I think a lot of people have bought Wii’s, but many aren’t buying software for it.
“With Silent Hill Shattered Memories, we’ve made a gamer’s game, and we’ve put a lot of passion into the game to get it right. But we’ve now got to wait and see how successful it’s really going to be commercially. That’s kind of out of our hands.”