Posted by: seanmalstrom | February 10, 2012

Email: Nicalus butthurt over WiiWare sales

I got another good laugh out of this one.  Nicalis – that’d be the Cave Story developer – went and said this about WiiWare:

“If we look back at WiiWare, that system was broken because it was trying to be fair and feature nothing. WRONG. In the WiiWare system all games were created equal, but life’s not fair and all games are NOT made equal. Some suck hard, particularly on WiiWare. However, that doesn’t matter much in a system like the WiiWare shop because customers aren’t being directed anywhere. The top 20 is the easiest filter and being on the top 20 doesn’t mean a game is good/great, it just means they sell. Frogger, really?

I’ve seen “hardcore” gamers try to argue with you that a game’s sales don’t mean anything.  But an actual game company?  How can you possibly run a business when you can’t accept the simple fact that people turning over their hard-earned money for your product/service means that there is some quality there.

Also, what’s wrong with Frogger?  What’s next?  Is Nicalis going to bash Pac-Man?

Frogger is much more fun than Cave Story. I never could get into Cave Story.

What I love about digital sales is that it removes time from competition. Any WiiWare game has to compete against games like Frogger, Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, and all the rest. This is actually really good for gaming.

I hate when entertainment mediums try to use technology as a means to remove competition. Take movies and special effects. The special effects of movies in the 80s and earlier are really awful compared to today. The movie, itself, is of identical mediocre quality of early special effects as it is with modern special effects. Twenty years from now, these movies that sell due to special effects will age equally as well.

The reason why Iwata says “players are waiting for new hardware” is because Nintendo wants to put out new hardware, have the developers ‘play’ on it, and leave the old hardware to dust. But with digital sales, the hardware becomes less relevant and the ‘technology factor’ becomes less relevant.

The walls of time are torn down. It used to be that Generation 4 games did not have to compete with Generation 3 games (16 bit vs 8 bit, no competition there). Stores would remove the ‘old games’ or mark them down to get rid of them. But with digital, the competition becomes greater than ever. What we end up with are games competing against games, not special effects competing against special effects (e.g. one console’s ‘blast processing’ versus another console’s ‘graphics’).

Cave Story must compete against every video game ever made, classic and new, for the consumer’s dollar. Honestly, I would not want to compete against the 2d Mario series. And if I want a Metroid experience, I’ll just buy Super Metroid or Metroid. There is no reason to buy Cave Story.

The mistake of Nicalus was giving away Cave Story in the first place. It made him think he was a good game maker because forum dwellers praised his game. Once a price tag is attached, we discover the true value according to the market.

What aspiring game makers can learn from Nicalus is that you cannot judge whether your game is good until you sell it because sales determine the quality of the product. There, I said it. I expect 500 emails reacting to that comment alone.


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