Nintendo Co. has opened its blockbuster Wii game system to independent video-game developers, the company announced Wednesday.
Nintendo said it will let hobbyists and game studios create and sell downloadable Wii games with a tool called WiiWare. Gamers will be able to purchase the games through the console's Wii Shop channel starting in early 2008.
"Independent developers armed with small 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 Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, in a statement.
Nintendo may be taking a page from Microsoft Corp.'s play book. The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker's XNA Game Studio tools let developers design video games for its Xbox 360 console.
WiiWare and XNA help lower the risk for developers of niche games that could appeal to nontraditional gamers, but wouldn't move off the shelves fast enough to entice retailers, said Anita Frazier, an industry analyst for NPD Group.
"There is recognition in a very broad sense that the industry has to continue to bring new people into the gaming audience, because the hardcore group is already gaming so much (that there is) not much room for expansion," Frazier said.
By encouraging independent game developers to get creative with smaller titles, Nintendo can offer a broader range of games to hook new customers, Frazier said.
Source:→ Seattle Post-Intelligencernintendo, wii, wii game system, independent, video game developers, gaming