WiiWare Service Gets a U.S. Launch Date

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Nintendo’s new WiiWare Download Service has been given an official U.S. launch date of May 12 (it comes out in March in Japan). The date was revealed during the Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) going on this week and brought to light in an interview Newsweek’s N’Gai Croal did with David Braben about his WiiWare launch title LostWinds, in which Nintendo of America director of project development Tom Prata sat in on the call in order to answer questions that Braben could not. The WiiWare service is a new feature on the Wii that will allow for new games made by developers to be downloaded directly to the Wii much like the classic VC games are now. Aside from opening up a whole new venue for games on your Wii, the low cost of developing games for WiiWare is great for independent gaming companies who have truly original ideas but not enough capital to get their games out through physical distribution.

In the interview Braben points out the goals of the new Channel saying, “The reason for (smaller file sizes) is that we want the WiiWare development to be more cost effective and have low barriers to entry to allow the content creators to create with that type of risk.” Basically Nintendo wants anyone who has a good game to be able to make it and get it out to the millions of Wii owners. This is good news for all of us as the more people making games the more great games we get. If the few games we’ve heard about coming out are any indication WiiWare is going to be the place to be for unique, fun and challenging games.

Braben also reveals that games will vary in cost much like the VC games. No word on what will make a game cost more or less but if I had to guess I would say it is going to have to do with the depth, length and challenge of the game. Sadly you won’t be able to figure any of these things out before you buy the game as WiiWare won’t feature any downloadable demos, something that Wii fans have been clamoring for since the downloadable Metroid preview videos teased us with the idea. In the only dissapointing part of the interview Golin Harris, a PR rep with Nintendo had this to say,

“We do not intend to have a ‘try-before-you-buy’ model that requires developers to create expensive demos. Nintendo plans to provide information on games similar to what Nintendo in Japan is doing with the Everybody’s Nintendo Channel where creators can share information on their game directly to Wii consumers.”

Don’t be fooled by the old PR double speak, we’re getting gypped here. Game demos, as any XBox Live gamer will tell you, are a great way to try out a game and see if you want it and, in my opinion, would increase sales making any costs to developers worth their time. Still, the WiiWare feature looks to be absolutley amazing and will deliver us some truly incredible and one of a kind games that you can’t get anywhere else so a lack of demos is far from important. Stick around and MyWiiNews will bring you all the info on the games coming to WiiWare.

The full press release from GDC follows including information on WiiWare, WiiFit and Super Smash Brothers Brawl.

NINTENDO REVEALS ITS NEXT ENGAGING EXPERIENCES

WiiWare, Wii Fit, Super Smash Bros. Brawl Shown at Game Developers Conference

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 20, 2008 – The Game Developers Conference in San Francisco attracts the top creative minds in the video game industry. With that audience on hand, Nintendo announces news that reinforces its commitment to provide entertaining and enriching experiences for veteran and new gamers alike. WiiWareâ„¢, Nintendo’s new downloadable game service, launches May 12 and expands development opportunities for developers the same way Wiiâ„¢ expanded the world of video game players. Wii Fitâ„¢, the upcoming title for Wii, launches May 19 and introduces the Wii Balance Boardâ„¢ peripheral. And Super Smash Bros.® Brawl draws in fans of all kinds.

“We are excited to participate in the Game Developers Conference this year to share with developers and consumers alike our upcoming unique services and products,” said Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. “We are hopeful that they will appreciate our offerings of WiiWare, Wii Fit and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which represent a trio that will continue to attract new players to the world of video games.”
At the conference, Nintendo speakers will outline a number of plans for the coming months on their respective panels:

WiiWare: Nintendo’s upcoming WiiWare changes the way both developers create and consumers access video games. Through WiiWare, Nintendo hopes to offer developers a virtual laboratory that serves as a breeding ground for new games, which encourages great ideas that creators always wanted to develop. The combination of low development barriers and unique game experiences found only on Wii should enable developers to try new ideas with lower risk in a quicker, more creative and affordable way.

Meanwhile Wii owners can download a multitude of cool new games from different genres, including some that are unprecedented, which can be purchased from home at a dynamic price range. WiiWare also empowers consumers to determine with their Wii Points which games have the right stuff to become the next big thing.

WiiWare will be a repository for all types of experiences – literally, something for everyone. Early WiiWare games will come from celebrated developers like Square Enix, which is creating FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES: My Life as a King, a simulation game for all ages. Also watch for games from up-and-coming developers like Frontier with its fresh, enchanting platform adventure LostWinds and a new episodic game series from Telltale. The first U.S. WiiWare games will be available on May 12.

Wii Fit: Wii Fit demonstrates Nintendo’s commitment to gamers of all kinds. It combines fun and fitness for every member of the family to keep active and play together. Wii Fit launches May 19 in the United States and comes with the weight-and-motion-sensing Wii Balance Board that Nintendo representatives demonstrated could hold great promise for future game development as well. Third-party publishers are already working on new games and applications that will make use of the Wii Balance Board. Additionally, Wii Fit includes access to the Wii Fit Channel, an interactive channel that lets users check in each day to track their fitness progress through weight and BMI. In Japan, Wii Fit has sold more than 1.4 million units since its Dec. 1 launch.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl: This action game launches March 9. With dozens of characters, settings, options and ways to play, it has something for everyone. The game includes characters from all across the Nintendo universe. The previous installment in the franchise went on to become the best-selling game of all time for Nintendo GameCubeâ„¢.

Remember that Wii features parental controls that let adults manage the content their children can access. For more information about this and other Wii features, visit Wii.com.

About Nintendo: The worldwide innovator in the creation of interactive entertainment, Nintendo Co., Ltd., of Kyoto, Japan, manufactures and markets hardware and software for its Wiiâ„¢, Nintendo DSâ„¢, Game Boy® Advance and Nintendo GameCubeâ„¢ systems. Since 1983, Nintendo has sold nearly 2.5 billion video games and more than 430 million hardware units globally, and has created industry icons like Marioâ„¢, Donkey Kong®, Metroid®, Zeldaâ„¢ and Pokémon®. A wholly owned subsidiary, Nintendo of America Inc., based in Redmond, Wash., serves as headquarters for Nintendo’s operations in the Western Hemisphere. For more information about Nintendo, visit the company’s Web site at www.nintendo.com.

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