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Beamdog boss expresses disappointment in WiiWare, doubts Wii U’s success

Thursday, 19th April 2012 00:00 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Beamdog boss Trent Oster has expanded on and clarified his comments on the developer’s troubled relationship with Nintendo.

Earlier in the week, Oster had said the downloadable, tablet-friendly Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition would not be coming to consoles – especially not the Wii U, as the company’s “previous experience with Nintendo was enough to ensure there will not be another”.

Writing in response to NintendoWorldReport, Oster said that from his perspective, WiiWare “hasn’t been a success for many developers outside of Nintendo”.

As well as the service’s notorious 40MB size limit, Oster described difficulties with demos, pricing and promotion.

“The result was large disappointment with the platform,” he said.

Oster also noted that he initially felt the Wii was a gimmick, believes “a huge number of the Wii units only ever sold one or two games” and that poor early third-party games resulted in a lack of consumer confidence in non-Nintendo Wii games.

The BioWare veteran has similar concerns about the Wii U.

“For the Wii U, I once again don’t get it. I’m having a hard time seeing how a tablet controller and console system is going to be revolutionary,” he said.

“I could be wrong, but I think the gaming world has changed irrevocably and there are now two fronts: Triple A console titles which resemble blockbuster movies and freemium/app store titles which are closer to television.

Oster said the PC is capable of addressing both fronts (and the varying quality within them), but that the Wii U doesn’t seem to cater to either of them.

“The app store/freemium model has redefined consumer pricing expectations, making consumers much less likely to invest $60 in a title without playing it first. The Triple A model focuses on delivering the experience you expect at the agreed upon price, which is going to be hard to sell conceptually with a new platform like the Wii U. I wish Nintendo the best and I hope they can hit big with a major success.”

Speaking to Gamasutra, Oster also criticised Nintendo’s certification process.

“Our time in cert was two-fold, a lack of proper QA on our part and slow report turn around from Nintendo. We’d get a bug, fix it, wait two weeks while Nintendo tested it, get a new bug, fix it, wait two weeks. After nine months from our first submission, we passed certification,” he said.

“The end product is a better game for the extra testing Nintendo pushed on us, but we likely could have had the same results in a much shorter timeline.”

Oster also noted that Beamdog is yet to see any return on the WiiWare version of MDK 2.

Beamdog’s latest Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition hits Mac, PC and tablets in northern summer.

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7 Comments

  1. Kabby

    If you have proper QA Nintendo cert isn’t too bad. Having done QA on both studio and platform ends I can tell you that if you hand off some buggy shit to the cert team you will get the shaft.

    Invest more into QA and less into sports cars.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. dreamcastnews

    ‘Oster also noted that he initially felt the Wii was a gimmick, believes “a huge number of the Wii units only ever sold one or two games”

    Yes, none of which would ever be your games Beamdog. The Nintendo crowd don’t care that some out-of-date dungeon crawler isn’t coming out on Wii U, why would I buy Baldurs Gate on Wii U when I could wait and have a Zelda game instead, I seem to remember the same thinking back in 2002 with Baldurs Gate Dark Alliance coming out for GC I didn’t buy it when it was something new; I sure won’t buy it now.

    In other terms, Mr Oster; Stop shooting your mouth off about systems you aren’t developing for and get on with the ones you are. Prick.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. StolenGlory

    @1

    “Invest more into QA and less into sports cars.”

    Sagely advice that.

    @2

    Truth be told, Baldur’s Gate on the WiiU would certainly add some diversity to the format’s digital offering and in that sense it certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing. Comparing it to Zelda is a tad off though, primarily because A) It’s a totally different type of game (Baldur’s Gate is the PC version and not the Dark Alliance hack ‘n’ slasher from 2002) and B) It’s a vastly different type of purchase intended for a different audience (a low-cost downloadable offering aimed toward anyone but the atypical Nintendo crowd). So in that sense, I could see why a lot of long-term Nintendo folk, raised on Nintendo IP’s and their ilk, wouldn’t be interested in a hardcore, western PC RPG from the dark mists of 1998.

    That said, I see no reason why the titles can’t co-exist on the platform; giving a little extra credence to Ninty’s claims of trying to reclaim the hardcore, but as @1 says, if you submit bug-ridden garbage to the cert folks; expect a nice big ‘fuck you, and must try harder’ for your efforts.

    By the same token though some of his comments, particularly his earlier ones about the Wii being a ‘toy’ and such like, just come across as spectacularly cretinous and narrow minded.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. OlderGamer

    I have to agree with both one and two.

    Sure BG would be nice on Wii/U. However we can’t assume that the demographic for a BG game wouldn’t also have a PC. Or a Sony or MS system.

    So many times in this industry foolish thinking prevails. One such example is the release of a once exclusive game to another platform, while expecting similer sales numbers on both platforms. The fact is that dedicated gamers often own both systems in question. And if that gamer wanted your game, they may well have already bought it on the first platform it came out on. Therefore making buying it again just because your put it on a second platform pointless. you can’t count on the same person to buy the game twice.

    How does that apply here? I already own all of the BG games on PC.

    There isn’t some sort of magical force keeping Nintendo owners from also owning other consoles. But I won’t be buying my next Nintendo system to play CoD/BF or Halo. And won’t be losing sleep over the loss of a BG game (DiabloIII and TourchlightII both say Hi). I can get those experiences elsewhere.

    Osters comments just further prove that many game gurus simpley do not understand Nintendo platforms, why people own them, what kinds of games to put on them, or how to sell them.

    Also, and I love this:

    “The end product is a better game for the extra testing Nintendo pushed on us, but we likely could have had the same results in a much shorter timeline.”

    …Or you could have released a bug fest, glitch filled pile of code, patched the crap out of it post launch(provided it sold enough in the launch window to be bothered fixing)…just like we see so often on other consoles.

    Kudos to Nintendo for telling you to get it right before putting it out.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. StolenGlory

    @4 I mostly agree, except for your reference to having to buy the same game (BG) twice.

    Why would the WiiU specifically have to be bought by dedicated gamers?

    It doesn’t and that’s the whole point of their marketing push with the WiiU – it’s meant to be a ‘jack of all trades’ right? A platform designed to appeal not just to the Nintendo loyalists, but also the casual gaming audience that they fostered with the Wii and also the dedicated gaming audience who shunned the Wii.

    It’s not just about the likes of me and you.

    Sure, Ninty are trying to court the dedicated demographic outside of their usual basket of IP’s, but the whole idea behind a diverse gaming catalogue is to allow all demographics to experience as many different games as they can; thereby making the platform a much more well-rounded (and by proxy, more attractive) offering in today’s market.

    So what if you have the games on PC, you are a dedicated gamer – I am too and I also have all the BG games + expansions (please don’t compare Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2 to BG for obvious reasons – BG on PC is not, for the last time, a hack and slasher). I am pretty sure however that casual gamer, who is upgrading to the WiiU from the Wii and who doesn’t have a PC and isn’t familiar with Steam et al’, would like to have the choice of having it or not.

    Sure, a lot of gamers will have other platform options, but you’ve got to realise just how successful Nintendo were in stimulating a previously untapped part of the market. Those are all new gamers now; why should they be deprived of new gaming experiences? Let them vote with their wallets, let them refine their gaming tastes and give them the opportunity to grow as gamers.

    That’s what i’m getting at here – i’m all for having more choice and more varied experiences for everyone – not less.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. OlderGamer

    I was just thinking that demographics overlap to the point of making multiplat releases redundant to an extent.

    And I think we got our wirers crossed when it comes to a system being bought only by the dedicated fan. Something like the Wii was bought by dedicated Nintendo fans as well as hardcore (other console owning) gamers. But what i was driving at is that those dedicated gamers(not to just one platform) that wanted to play something like BG, would already have the game elsewhere.

    I understand trying to broden and reach out to new gamers for your franchise, but really I doubt the adoption rate of those gamers. If a gamer only owns Nintendo systems and only is interested in playing Nintendos franchises, I have a very hard time imagining that those people would pick BG over Zelda. Just as a general example. I am sure that some will, but I don’t know that the potential buying base is as big as suits sometimes believe it is.

    Ask yourself this, disregaurding new hardware(lets assume we stay with current hardware for the next 5 years), if Halo were to release Reach on a PS3, what would the sales look like? Would they balloon up and seel the same numbers they did on xb360?

    I don’t think so.

    I would assume that most fans of Halo already own the game on another platform. There fore bring it out on PS3 would see sales, but it would be no where near the same level of xb360 sales.

    I say samething goes for most game franchises. Uncharted next isn’t going to double sales number if they also release their next sequel on xb360. In truth, most fans already own the game.

    Thats is what i am saying with something like BG. Most people that want it, already have it.

    There isn’t some untaped millions of potential sales on Wii somewhere.

    I think that is the fundamental flaw behind Sonys Vita(as it was with PSP). Fans of the games coming out, already own those franchises on a console. Two platforms for your game franchise doesn’t equel twice as many sales.

    I also feel that having more choices is good. But if your going to release a game, your better off understanding your target markets. Who is really going to be buying your product.

    It is also why 3rd parties can’t sell their games on Nintendo platforms. they don’t understand the market. Would you buy CoD on a Wii? Nope, you would buy that kind of experience for ps360. And most of 3rd games are ports. Just not gonna work.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. OlderGamer

    Let me try and simplify, I tend to over do things.

    The only way CoD will sell on WiiU is if gamer stop buying it on other platforms. I don’t mean sell alright, I mean have monster xb360 type numbers. Because the bulk of gamers interested in the game already own it.

    Thats what I was trying to say for BG. Could prolly generalize for most game franchise too.

    The only way you dramictily increase sales number of one multiplat franchise on one system is if sales dramaticly fall(shift away from) on another platform.

    #7 2 years ago

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