WiiWare

You’ve probably heard the news about about WiiWare. (Newsweek broke the story here.) In a nutshell, developers can buy a Wii SDK, create games for the Wii, and get them sold online through the Wii’s downloadable interface. Nintendo says that there will not be any screening of game ideas, and gave the impression that the Wii will soon have an exciting free-for-all of downloadable games for sale.

This is huge news for casual game developers, because the Wii audience should contain a very large percentage of people who are looking for short, engaging games, rather than long challenging games. In other words, they might buy our casual games!

The bad news:

  • Although Nintendo calls their SDK “virtually free”, the actual cost of a development kit for one developer seems to be around $2500. And that’s not including any middleware you might need to buy.
  • Your game must pass Nintendo’s QA process to be allowed to go live. You better believe that the developer will be footing the bill for this (much as developers foot the bill for Microsoft’s Arcade QA pass now).
  • Developers are required to get the game rated by the ESRB before it can go live. I can’t find the cost for this online, but if I recall correctly from my days working on brick and mortar games, I’d say you should put aside $1000 for it.

The bottom line: you’ll likely need to be able to pony up $10k to $15k to get your game on the Wii. That’s in addition to the $5k to $6k needed to buy art and sound assets. This is chump change for a small studio, but it certainly keeps the riff-raff (like me) out of the running until we’re really confident that we have a money-maker on our hands, or we can convince a publisher that we’re a sure thing.

I’m still excited about the possibility, though. If I had a less-expensive way to take a shot at it, I’d love to port Starcrossed to the Wii.

2 thoughts on “WiiWare

  1. I feel the same way. the good thing about rifraff like us is that we can use pirate software.

    step 1.Obtain wii SDK

    step 2. port game

    step 3. show off game to potential investors

    step 4. give up on actually getting an investor

    step 5. leverage property you own as collateral on a loan for 30 grand

    step 6. put game out and advertise on digg, reddit, etc,

    step 7. shoot your self in the face because your game sucks and nobody likes it.

  2. I’m having a hell of a time find where to obtain the Wii SDK. At the very least, I want to produce games for my own Wii and my friends. Surely, that is possible, if only I could find the Wii SDK. My friends and I are ok with coughing up a few hundred each to enable ourselves, and we don’t care if Nintendo allows us to distribute to the masses.

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