New WiiWare Information Sheds Light on File Sizes, Profit Sharing, Limitations

By Chris Faylor, Nov 13, 2007 3:28pm PST

New details on the inner workings of Nintendo's WiiWare program have surfaced, providing a glimpse at Nintendo's strategy for the channel that will specialize in new, original downloadable games.

When the online store goes live in 2008, developers will be free to price their games as they see fit, IGN editors Matt Casamassina and Mark Bozon reported on their latest Wii-k in Review podcast. However, developers will face a strict size limit of 40MB. Perhaps surprisingly given the system's limited internal flash memory of 512MB, the per-game cap is just shy of Xbox Live Arcade's original 50MB game limit, which was recently tripled.

Speaking of money, the IGN duo claims that Nintendo is offering developers a 65:35 split on the game's profits, with Nintendo taking the lesser figure. Budgets for WiiWare titles are said to fall between $50,000 and $150,000, with most of them under $100,000.

Nintendo is reportedly encouraging smaller file sizes by tying the game's file size to the sales it must meet before the company pays the developer. The theory is that the smaller the game, the shorter the development cycle and the sooner the developer gets paid, with Nintendo apparently recommending 16MB as an ideal file size.

Though Nintendo can act as a publisher for WiiWare titles, another option for cash-strapped studios is to partner with a third party publisher. Publishers are supposedly offering a variety of deals to WiiWare developers, including one-time deposits and the possibility of profit-sharing.

While the barrier for entry is apparently quite low, Nintendo is said to be imposing a one game a month limit for all developers in hopes of discouraging a deluge of sub-par products.

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