Comparisons Between WiiWare and Xbox LIVE Community Games

There’s little information regarding developing WiiWare games, and the little information I garnered include:

  • Development Tool: WiiWare SDK costs around USD 2000
  • Point of Entry: Developers must be licensed and approved by Nintendo
  • Pricing: Nintendo controls pricing of Wiiware games

Now, compare this to Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE Community Games, whereby you get to create games, submit it online and have people buy the games from Xbox LIVE. The prerequisites are, well, much lower than what would you expect from a platform which has a way better online marketplace experience compared to the Wii (Microsoft could have charged higher for that):

  • Development Tool: XNA Framework and Visual Studio Express Development Tools are FREE OF CHARGE
  • Point of Entry: Developers pay USD 99 a year for access to XNA Creators Club to submit games for peer review. Once passed, game will be listed on Xbox Live!
  • Pricing: Developers sets price between 200 to 800 Points. and get 70% of the total revenue from their game sales.

It’s pretty to see which one is the more accessible and developer friendly, not to mention cheaper option. Nintendo’s coverage on Wiiware development is ridiculously scant, with all my information garnered from sites like IGN and Wikipedia. What’s the point of having an innovative controller in the form of a Wiimote when the point of entry for developers is set very high? And Nintendo’s approach pretty much sidelines homebrew developers.

I don’t know bout you, but I can actually dismiss the following statement made by Tom Prata, senior director of project development with NoA, as hubris:

Basically we’re giving the tools to any developer to make the games that they want to make, and all the dreams and passions that they have and bring them to Wii. We’re trying to encourage the philosophy that a big idea can succeed without a big budget. They decide the content, while we provide the lowest barrier of entry into development as we can for them.

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  1. EdEN February 23, 2009

    This article is just wrong. You can’t compare Wiiware to XBL Community games. If you had common sense the comparison is Wiiware and XBLA, period.

    Community games is not indie games development, it’s just a way for people to post small priceless games that can be easily found on flash or browser game sites.

    Also, Nintendo doesn’t set prices for Wiiware games. Developers, after CONSULTING Nintendo, set their own prices.

    Read the postmortem on Gamasutra on Madstone (a Wiiware game) to get a better idea.

    A little research goes a long way when trying to write something…

  2. Siavm February 23, 2009

    XNA is not like wiiware. Wiiware is like xbla. XNA is not for everyone. I tried and it is not user friendly at all. Only programmers and game designers can use that.

  3. […] Article here […]

  4. tokyo_nights February 23, 2009

    @Eden: Thanks for the comment. With regards to Madstone, I’ll check out the pricing.

    @Eden and @Siavm… Games made using XNA, once approved by the XNA Creators Club ARE PUBLISHED on Xbox Live Arcade. Do get your facts straight @Eden, and there are no such thing as free games for XBL Community Games published on Arcade. 🙂

    @Siavm: Have you actually tried developing on Wiiware? Do you have the SDK to speak of it’s user friendliness? Development work depends on developer competency too you know 🙂

  5. Giovanni February 23, 2009

    Are you kidding me? 98% of XBL community games are total garbage. Last time I checked WiiWare games were made by actual companies with some skill in game making.

  6. tokyo_nights February 23, 2009

    @Giovanni: Ouch…but hey, can’t blame the developers (part time or otherwise) for trying. No? If the XBL community games had its own “World of Goo”, which was developed by a 2 man team btw, then it would be a different story.

  7. Matthew Doucette February 23, 2009

    @Giovannion, you are missing the point. Compare XBLA to WiiWare, as XBLCG are *extra* games that otherwise would not be there. Yes, lots of junk. But the top games are going to be great, and would not exist otherwise. Developers like myself would not be developing otherwise.

    No question, MS wins this battle.

  8. Matthew Doucette February 23, 2009

    @Siavmon who said, “XNA is not like wiiware. Wiiware is like xbla”, exactly. Apples and oranges.

  9. Nicholas Leong February 23, 2009

    Taking away the point of entry and the cost of the SDK, I think all three platforms have achieved what they set out to do with Wiiware, PSN and XBLA.

    At least we are seeing games like Calling All Cars and Braid which was not possible in the previous generation.

  10. shadaik February 23, 2009

    “Games made using XNA, once approved by the XNA Creators Club ARE PUBLISHED on Xbox Live Arcade” – No they aren’t. They are published on XBL, but not on XBLA, but in a separate section “Community Games”. Also, they do not get the marketing exposure XBLA games get.
    Publishing real XBLA games does include buying a “real” SDK (Though cheaper that for the Wii due to PC compatibility of the standard 360) and contracting MS as a registered publisher.

  11. SCP February 23, 2009

    does this work?

  12. SCP February 23, 2009

    This article omits a critical component of reality, which is the soaring cost of development for mainly high-definition consoles.
    XBLA games started off small, with small staffs and appropriately small budgets, but that’s been changing for years.

    Have we forgotten what happened with the team behind Geometry Wars, already? Every release since on XBLA by that team has ballooned and now it’s rivaling physical-disc releases. Developers aren’t saving money making games for 360’s digital library, and Microsoft certainly isn’t making it very easy for small developer start-ups to get a leg up.

    Nintendo has made it very clear from the start, by mandating a 40mb limit on all games, regardless of developer pedigree, which not only forces developers to limit the development budget, but helps to level the playing field to make it easier for smaller developers to gain visibility in the increasingly overcrowded game market.

  13. ramparter February 24, 2009

    I agree with this article. The fact is that everyone can try the xna tools. I did. It would be really nice if we could do the same in Wii. I’m not talking about Wii ware, just small games like 360 community games.

  14. lee December 8, 2010

    Does anyone have any idea why only Microsoft has entered into this agreement with indie devs via xna ?
    Are they the only ones who seem to care about the little guy here , regardless as some say that xna !=wiiware ?

    To me anyway, the fact NIntendo is making it VERY expensive for the little guy trying to make it, shows that they are the elite ones here, and that at least though Im sure motivated by profit , that Microsoft is trying to help small start ups.

    So much for Nintendo’s image, at least from the perspective of start ups, and given that there is such a huge divide in America between haves and have nots, this move by Microsoft, while you can claim not perfect,goes a long way to show their family value image.

    Im not always a fan of Microsoft and its intentions , but in this case they seem to be the only ‘game’ in town that is putting forth their hand to shake with the little guy, showing on some level they they are trying to give opportunities to less well known studios.

    I’ll never look at those other consoles the same given Microsofts decent venture with xna, no matter that to some anyway, that itsa ‘ apples and oranges’ comparison. Does it really matter though given that at least with xna there is a path to production for average joe schmo, and the other guys make you take out a second mortgage for the privledge ?

    Call it what you will, but this one can not be denied by either Sony or Nintendo, that they seem to maintain a elite attitude when it comes to sdk’s and giving the smaller development team(s) a chance.