Nintendo opens up Virtual Console to indie developers

Posted by Mark Raby

Redmond (WA) - Nintendo has unlocked the Virtual Console, previously used only as a marketplace for vintage titles, to allow independent developers to create brand new Wii games.

Called WiiWare, Nintendo refers to it as a "game creation service" to which virtually any developer will have access.  Unlike current Virtual Console games, WiiWare titles can take advantage of the Wii's motion-sensing remote and nunchuck attachment.

Nintendo reached the 100 game milestone on the Virtual Console last month, offering collections from the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, and TurboGrafx 16.

Sony's Playstation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 have similar digital download services.  The Xbox 360 focuses on porting classic video arcade games but does offer a selection of titles created exclusively for the Xbox Live Arcade platform.  Sony has sought original content for the PS3's Playstation Store from day one, and has found success with games like Flow and Super Rub-A-Dub.

One of Nintendo's main talking points in the months before the Wii debuted was the accessibility for smaller developers.  WiiWare is a new move to make good on that promise.  "Independent developers armed with mall budgets and big ideas will be able to get their original games into the marketplace to see if we can find the next smash hit," said Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime.

The games will need to be officially licensed by Nintendo, and will be available for immediate download from the Virtual Console.  Nintendo says the first titles to use the new platform will be available in "early 2008".