Global Game Industry News Blog

Monday, June 11, 2007

Emulators, the Virtual Console, and Opening up the Wii

It is always to see how the pile of news I didn't read over the weekend piles up and then ends up overlapping in odd/interesting ways.

One in particular was an article in the NY Times about Nintendo courting developers more-so than they previously had in the past, and this other bit about a Wii/Gamecube homebrew competition.

First of all, I really hope that the developers that put their time and effort into making games for the Wii and Gamecube spend more time on actual games than on emulators. Sure you can perhaps have a game up and running faster (?) if you're porting an emulator to the Wii or Gamecube, but I'm beginning to believe more and more that emulators on consoles tends to hurt homebrew efforts rather than help them.

Of course when I saw the Wii News article linked from Slashdot (/.), the emulation aspect was for-fronted. If you think about it, emulators are the very thing that most companies fear when it comes to homebrew. Why? Because it dilutes their brand, and prevents them from being able to re-sell you old content.

Now, that isn't to say that old content is all bad (because sometimes they make it look better), but as far as Microsoft is concerned, running your old NES games on the Xbox 360 isn't going to help them. Nintendo doesn't want you running Sony PS1 titles on the Wii or Gamecube because it dilutes their brand.

What I see as the interesting overlap here is that Nintendo really is pushing developers to think about these new platforms in new and interesting ways. What they haven't done is engage with home brew-ers, hobbyists or open sourcers. The other thing is that they haven't provided a way to get around the uber-conservative publishing companies, especially here in the US.

It is also interesting that Nintendo, of all the current console manufacturers, has yet to release an original title for their Virtual Console. What a great new medium which would circumvent timid publishers. Heck, it might even push them in such a way that they would HAVE TO publish some new interesting titles. In the mean time Nintendo would likely reap higher margins on those titles.

But, you know, it's easier to keep things closed and snuggle up with your existing developers, than to take a chance on all those people just itching to get a chance to develop for your system. If only the number of people playing with their Wii-motes on their PC's gives you an idea of the number, it's a lot. Not to mention even at RPI's game symposium this spring, several games used the Wii-mote as a control mechanism.

NY Times - Technology - Putting the We Back in Wii
"The relationship is warmer and more active than before," said Jeff Brown, the spokesman for Electronic Arts, the giant game developer based in Redwood City, Calif. The push appears to be bringing results. Analysts say one reason for Wii’s popularity has been its larger number of available game titles. At present, there are 58 games on sale in the United States for Wii, versus 46 for PlayStation 3, according to the Sony and Nintendo Web sites. That is a huge contrast with the previous generation of game consoles: to date, PlayStation 2 has 1,467 titles, overwhelming GameCube’s 271 titles.
...
The Wii’s simplicity is also the selling point for software makers. Mr. Wada said developers had been slower to write games for PlayStation 3 because of the greater complexity of the console’s main processor, the high-speed multi-core Cell Chip. He said PlayStation 3’s production delays had also made Sony slow to provide developers with the basic codes and software needed to write games for the new console.

At Namco Bandai, Mr. Unozawa said PlayStation 3 was so complex, with its faster speeds and more advanced graphics, that it might take 100 programmers a year to create a single game, at a cost of about $10 million. Creating a game for Wii costs only a third as much and requires only a third as many writers, he said.

Wii News - Coding Contest
DCEmu via its Wii-News and Gamecube Emulation Sites are proud to present the first Dual Nintendo Wii and Nintendo Gamecube Coding Competition. This Coding Competition will hopefully ignite a mass of interest for creating homebrew and emulators on the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo Gamecube.
...
Entries for the competition must work on either Nintendo Wii or Nintendo Gamecube or both via SD Load.

All entrys must work with SD Load or with an as yet Unreleased Exploit for Nintendo Wii. Modchip Versions of any releases must have a corresponding SD Load Version.

Entries can be Emulators, Homebrew Games, Demos or Applications that work directly on the Gamecube/Nintendo Wii.

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