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 MDK2  console dev done with Nintendo after WiiWare loss, 9-month certification
MDK2 console dev done with Nintendo after WiiWare loss, 9-month certification Exclusive
April 17, 2012 | By Eric Caoili, Mike Rose

Beamdog, which ported MDK2 to WiiWare last year, says it will not work with Nintendo again and explains to Gamasutra how it took nine months for the platform holder to approve its game.

The studio's Trent Oster says Wii (and its WiiWare download service) "isn't a good platform for developers," citing problems with how Nintendo handles payments, file size limitations, and game certification.

Beamdog's internal studio Overhaul Games released a remastered version of BioWare's 2000 Dreamcast/PC title MDK2 to WiiWare last May. But the developer says the game "didn't sell anywhere near [its] expectations," and tells Gamasutra it's yet to make any money from the game almost a year later.

Oster, a BioWare veteran and one of Beamdog's co-founders, claims developers must sell 6,000 units of a WiiWare game before receiving a payment from Nintendo: "We'd love to see some money back on the title, as it is the best version of MDK2 on any console, but we've yet to see anything."

Gamasutra previously spoke with developers who acknowledged that a minimum sales requirement exists, and one small studio even doubted it would ever receive a payment for its WiiWare game. UK-based indie Different Cloth also admitted that its disappointing WiiWare sales for Lilt Line prevented it from earning any money from the port.

Oster points out other issues with how Nintendo handles WiiWare, such as a 40 MB file size limit for games -- a restriction that resulted in the cancellation of Team Meat's Super Meat Boy release for the platform -- and a certification process that took nine months for Beamdog to see MDK2 approved.

"Our time in cert was two-fold, a lack of proper QA on our part and slow report turn around from Nintendo," says Oster. "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 adds, "We could have spent more money on our side and hired a certification testing team, but we ran our own small QA effort and ran through the certification requirements on our own. 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."

Beamdog is currently porting another enhanced version of a BioWare game, Baldur's Gate, to Mac and iOS devices. When asked on Twitter if Beamdog will consider bringing the game to Wii U, Oster replied, "We don't do Nintendo development. Our previous experience with Nintendo was enough to ensure there will not be another."

He went on to describe Wii as "a toy, not a console" due to what he called an exceptionally low attach rate. Oster claimed people are buying the system to play Wii Sports and not purchasing any other titles, which he said is bad for developers.

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David Amador
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It's sad to know about stuff like this.
I hope Nintendo starts considering reviewing their all process.

Joe Zachery
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Wiiware was a failure being Nintendo's first attempt at a digital game service. They have already proven with the E-Shop they have learned from their mistakes. Most of the time when I read things like this. The main thing I see is our game didn't sale what we thought it would. Your porting a game that is 12 years old to a platform that targets, Fans, Kids, and Families. It had no chance to begin with! No matter how different the process could have been it still would not have sold. It always seem to be Nintendo didn't help us make money, and now we are mad. One more thing in the same original article where he first made some of these Nintendo comments. He stated that they wouldn't be porting the new Baldur's Gate to the 360 due to controller issues. It seems to me these guys can't seem to handle very basic development issues.

Graham Hamilton
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I dunno man, no return until 6000 units is pretty disheartening. How much do WiiWare games even sell for? Like 10 bucks? So you either get, like, 70% of $60,000 or nothing? I'd be interested to know how many WiiWare titles pass that benchmark...hell, how many XBLA titles even pass that? You receive ZERO return on your game's premium theme until 6000 people download it?

I'll grant you that it's dumb to complain about that at this point, cause they obviously knew the terms before developing the game...but I think "the Wii is a terrible platform for developers" is a pretty sound argument.

Joe McGinn
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What have they proven? The e-shop seems no better to me. Poorly organized (or more likely, organized to promote Nintendo's own content as was Wiiware) and low priority even tofr Nintendo. They won't even put their own premium ports on it, like Zelda OoT.

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I agree with Joe Z.

He and his team did a poor job and he can't blame Nintendo for it. The way I understand it the other companies have about near the same practices for DDG.

Giro Maioriello
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So he's saying the game was re-subbed into Nintendo over 10 times!?!
I can't imagine how this happened? Unless each and every re-subbed build introduced new critical bugs? If this is the case it sounds like they might have greatly underestimated the QA needed for this game. It wouldn't be the first time I've seen it happen with a port.

Dwayne Kirkwood
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Exactly, how crazy is that. I feel for them on the sales point, but boucing submission for 9 months is entirely their own fault.

Yasuhiro Noguchi
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It's not Nintendo's (or Sony or Microsoft's) job to QA your game. It's up to the publisher/developer to properly test their games prior to master submission.

Don Moar
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I've never gone through a certification process with Nintendo, so I can't say for certain but as I recall from other console manufacturers they stop testing once they find a certification-failing issue. So, I think it's just as possible that new issues could have found that were actually in previous builds (but masked or unobserved) as it is that new bugs were introduced.

Also, I generally don't equate a certification-failing bug to a critical one. Yes, in both cases the result is the same as far as the manufacturer is concerned, but a crash bug is really not the same as suddenly having an out-of-date publisher loading movie yet both will be deemed cert-failures.

Giro Maioriello
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@ Don Moar

IIRC Nintendo may well refuse to accept your game into their cert process if the submission paperwork/materials are incorrect. But once the game is in lotcheck, they might inform you early that your game is going to fail, but they will complete the all the testing and provide a report. I suppose it might be possible if the game was found to be in a really bad state they might kick it straight out. Since you are paying for the testing, you should be entitled to the full test run.

It's the same for all of them I believe (it has been 3 years for me).

Don Moar
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@Giro Maloriello

Yes, you definitely need to have all the paperwork and support materials ready before you can even get into cert. I guess whether a console manufacturer bounced your submission entirely did depend upon things like the severity of the bug, the number of other games in the pipe at the time, your expected ship date, etc.

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
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lol 40 mb...