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UK indie Icon Games changes focus to Sony after Nintendo's strong arm tactics

WiiWare download figures ban the last straw
UK indie Icon Games changes focus to Sony after Nintendo's strong arm tactics

UK indie Icon Games got into hot water with Nintendo earlier this week, when it published the download figures for its WiiWare games.

It demanded they be removed, and since Icon's owner and director Richard Hill-Whittall has been outspoken in his criticism of the company, suggesting that it isolates smaller developers and makes it difficult for them to run their businesses efficiently.

We got touch with Hill-Whittall to find out how the debacle had changed his attitude to Nintendo.

Killed cash flow

"Every aspect of self-publishing on WiiWare was made more difficult by Nintendo's approach," he says.

"For example, sales performance thresholds - whereby the publisher has to exceed these BEFORE they start to receive any revenue from Nintendo, and if they are not reached within two years you'll never receive a penny."

"That killed cash flow and just about bankrupted us."

Store front woes

Nintendo's rigidity wasn't limited to cash flow and sales figures, however, as Hill-Whittall points out the problems his team have encountered with Nintendo's digital store.

"You can't ever change the price point, it doesn't allow sales or promotions, it never really does any promotion except for the very top selling handful of games," he says.

"You can't update the game once it is on sale unless there is a critical bug found. There were no demos for ages it finally introduced them but only allowed a game demo to stay on the store for 4 weeks, and so on.

A contract in blood

In this context, Nintendo's request to remove the sales figures from public view was the straw that broke the camel's back.

"It would be hard to devise a more developer unfriendly system! I am surprised we didn't have to sign the contract in blood!" Hill-Whittal says.

"I like the Nintendo brand, and it's produced some amazing systems over the years, but I wouldn't want to self-publish on a Nintendo platform again unless it modernises the way it work with developers.

"Our focus right now is on Vita and PSP," he concludes.

Thanks to Richard for his time.