Microsoft's Chris Satchell, general manager of the company’s game developer group, has told SPOnG that Nintendo's WiiWare strategy is confusing and failing to "empower the gaming community".
Speaking to SPOnG at the GameHorizon conference in Newcastle yesterday, Satchell said:
“I've been a little confused by WiiWare... The more I look at it, the more I'm confused, because it sort of doesn't really look like something for independents.
"At best it's what we would call a registered developer programme."
He continued, "It's really a way for you to get hold of dev kits and the normal development environment when you're not signed to a big publisher. Which is very different than what we're doing with XNA, which is you can just go and download the tools and we're going to give you a distribution (platform) and the community will manage it.
"We're going to completely enable you, versus 'well, if you kind of work with us we can possibly kind of, back door or grandfather you into some kind of developer programme which is a lot like our professional developer programme'.
"So, I'm not actually convinced it's really going to empower the community a whole bunch."
That's not to say, however, that Nintendo has no desire to support smaller developers. "I think probably they do want
to enable independent developers. I don't know how much they're succeeding with that, and I don't know if it's going to be the seachange that I'm hoping we'll see with XNA of really empowering the community”, Satchell said.
Back when Nintendo announced WiiWare, Nintendo of America's President, Reggie Fils-Aime, said, "Independent developers armed with small budgets and big ideas will be able to get their original games into the marketplace to see if we can find the next smash hit."
The service has since been criticised for focussing too much on larger developers such as Square Enix, with one small studio, Xiotex
going so far as to claim "WiiWare is a lie" after it was rejected as a developer for the service.
Of course, with Microsoft Games currently pushing its 'XNA Creators Club
' - and planning to roll the games out to a wider audience later this year - it comes as no surprise that Satchell would big up Microsoft's XNA Studio at the expense of Nintendo's Wii development program.
Have you any experience of either WiiWare or XNA? Tell us about it in the Forum.