April 8, 2009 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili
Speaking recently on the importance of working with developers to grow WiiWare, Nintendo's senior director of product development Tom Prata pointed out that marketing titles for its downloadable platform has been difficult. “I think there’s more that Nintendo can do for support,” he said. “This year, Nintendo will increase resources for development and support.”
One way Nintendo is calling attention to WiiWare releases from small and independent studios -- and has been since the service's launch -- is by putting out "Developer's Voice" videos that share in-game footage and insight from the team who worked on the title. The clips, usually several minutes long, are primarily available through Wii's Nintendo Channel, but are also posted on game video sites.
Some of the WiiWare games previously featured on the Developer's Voice series include Frontier Developments's LostWinds, 2D Boy's World of Goo, Gaijin Games' Bit.Trip:Beat, and WayForward's Lit. There's even one for Big Fish Games' hidden object DS title Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir.
Edmund McMillen mentioned that he recorded one while at GDC for Super Meat Boy, and it's likely that video interviews are also forthcoming for Nicalis' Night Game and Cave Story. The most recently uploaded Developer's Voice video was for Zoonami's Bonsai Barber:
While this does show effort on Nintendo's part to call attention to independently developed WiiWare games, I imagine that the number of people who actually watch videos on the Nintendo Channel is a tiny fraction of Wii's core audience, much less of the console's total install base.
And it seems as if the only way most gamers will come across the Developer's Voice clips is if they already know about the titles and are seeking more information on them; it would be difficult for an average gamer to find the videos while casually browsing their usual online haunts.
Perhaps more aggressive promotion is needed to draw gamers' attention to the clips (alongside promotion for the actual games) -- email blasts, press releases, banner ads, or even real-world advertisements. Nintendo's railway station signs in Japan publicizing individual Virtual Console releases for example, like this Gradius piece, were fantastic to see:
I would love to see a giant billboard for Cave Story.