iwata_direct Wii U

Investors Meeting: “Hundreds” of Developers on Wii U and 3DS


So the 74th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders for Nintendo has concluded.  Satoru Iwata was not on-hand to answer questions due to on-going health issues, and in his place was Miyamoto, Takeda, and Susumu Tanaka (Director and General Manager of Licensing Division).  It’s the information from Tanaka that we’re looking at here, as he gives us some numbers breakdowns on the development front for the Wii U and 3DS:

 

  • Third Party software developers in the US – 3DS:  About 40 companies (focusing on physical releases).
  • Third Party software developers in the US – Wii U:  About 20 companies (focusing on physical releases).
  • Third Party software developers in Europe for both 3DS and Wii U are similar to the US.
  • Downloadable software developers in the US – 3DS:  About 130 companies.
  • Downloadable software developers in the US – Wii U:  About 200 companies.
  • Downloadable software developers in Europe – 3DS:  About 160 companies.
  • Downloadable software developers in Europe – Wii U:  About 115 companies.
  • In Japan (physical or downloadable not noted) – 3DS:  About 140 companies.
  • In Japan (physical or downloadable not noted) – Wii U:  About 35 companies.

 

These numbers look pretty good on the digital/downloadable side, but there is reason to worry on the physical side.  Customers will often judge a console in store by the library they see associated with it, and one thing that can’t be well displayed in a Best Buy is a large library of downloadble, digital, and indie games.   As readers of this site are easily aware, the eShops update every Thursday, and recently the numbers of new games have been growing pretty rapidly.  However, these eShop updates are not plastered on advertising in GameStop or Target, and in that regard, the libraries of both the 3DS and Wii U look rather small, even after so much time in the market.

Both the 3DS and Wii U are friendly with digital and downloadable gaming (the Wii U somewhat less so with the difficulty in getting downloadable Wii games on there and that external harddrives cost quite a bit more than SD cards for a 3DS), which has been a boon for both machines in terms of game releases, support, and an increasingly important indie presence.

During the investor Q&A, Tanaka (and presumably Nintendo as a whole) seems to recognize the importance in Nintendo driving sales with strong first party games in order to “inspire 3rd party developers” to come to the console, but perhaps Nintendo should be taking a more hands-on approach with some 3rd party, specifically Western, games and developers.  Sony and Microsoft actively seek out exclusive content from 3rd parties, and outside of funding and publishing Bayonetta 2 and Devil’s Third (somewhat extreme in the “hands-on” approach), it seems that Nintendo needs to find a way to not just inspire major 3rd party developers to return, but actively help them in succeeding.

Nintendo has, no doubt, done an excellent job appealing to smaller and indie studios with things like the free Unity licenses and making the Wii U the only current console that allows game development from HTML and Java-coded games and engines built in those languages (like Construct 2).  But “leading” may not be enough to inspire AAA 3rd party players to the party–they may require a financial incentive.  Somewhat troubling is that there is no real direct mention of the level of developer that is supporting the Wii U, and we only have the numbers of presumed developers making “physical games” to go on–and 20 is not a large number.

The quote from Tanaka is as follows:

I would like to explain our approach toward the third-party software developers. As for the current numbers of software developers for our platforms, in the U.S. there are about 40 companies developing software for Nintendo 3DS, and about 20 companies for Wii U. The numbers of developers are almost the same in Europe. If we add companies that develop downloadable software to these numbers, in the U.S., there are about 130 companies for Nintendo 3DS and about 200 companies for Wii U. In Europe, there are about 160 companies for Nintendo 3DS and as for Wii U, about 115 companies. And in Japan, there are about 140 companies for Nintendo 3DS and about 35 companies for Wii U. I would say quite a few companies have interest in developing software for our platforms.

 

For the entire Q&A, click here.