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DICE 09: Nintendo's Prata On Stepping Up WiiWare Support

DICE 09: Nintendo's Prata On Stepping Up WiiWare Support

February 23, 2009 | By Brandon Sheffield

February 23, 2009 | By Brandon Sheffield
More: Console/PC

Speaking about the current difficult times in the game industry in one of the final lectures of the DICE Summit was Tom Prata, senior director of product development at Nintendo.

Starting his lecture, he reminded the audience that “the first challenge we face is a subject that everyone’s talking about today. It’s the economy.”

At an event like the Las Vegas-based executive summit, he says the first question everyone asked each other used to be “What are you working on?” This year, he says, “We have a new question that’s on everybody’s mind: are you going to make it?”

But on a note similar to Thursday's DICE talk from Lars Gustavsson, Prata suggests that this is the time to try new things. “Without the innovation of developers, we lose interest and audience,” he said.

“So where will the innovation come from? It has to come from the people in this room. Without the innovation of developers, we don’t have any future. Even in this economy, there is still a lot of opportunity.”

“In terms of creativity and innovation, here’s how we see things today: Small is the new big,” says Prata.

He then shared a few statistics about WiiWare’s product lineup, stating that “90 percent of the games made for WiiWare are made by outside companies,” and that “only two of the top 20 games are made by Nintendo.”

But of course, there are challenges, he admits. “Digital distribution cannot make quality great. Consumers decide what is quality.”

And reaching those customers can be difficult.“How many consumers can you reach?” he asks. “Not everybody has connected [their Wii] to the internet, and not everybody who is connected has downloaded games.”

“Another challenge we face is storage,” Prata admits. “I wanted to let you know that we have not been deaf to the complaints, and [Satoru] Iwata announced in Japan that Nintendo is working on a solution having to do with the SD card.”

The third major challenge was marketing, in that it can be difficult to get the word out about WiiWare games. “I think there’s more that Nintendo can do for support,” he said. “This year, Nintendo will increase resources for development and support.”

“Nintendo DSi, as well as WiiWare, offers the same kind of partnership,” the Nintendo executive said, hoping to coax some indie developers onto the platforms.

“Internally we’re also working on DSi software and products,” he promised, before announcing in conclusion that the Miyamoto and Koizumi-created animation and memo program Moving Memo Pad will be localized to DSiWare in the U.S.

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