Nintendo gambles on HTML5 and indies

Nintendo gambles on HTML5 and indies
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

April 30th 2013 at 2:35PM

Console giant looks to browser game and Unity developers to expand Wii U software range

Nintendo is betting on its HTML5 development framework to help greatly expand the roster of games for the Wii U.

Speaking in a financial briefing Q&A, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said the number of developers who can use web technologies such as HTML5 and Javascript was 100 times larger than the range of developers for dedicated consoles.

Iwata claimed that since its GDC reveal of the web framework, the company had already received hundreds of inquiries from developers interested in using the web framework. He added that a small development team would update the tech constantly, and that it had enabled the console giant to “significantly reduce development challenges”.

It is hoped that widely available tools for relatively easy game development will help improve the number of titles released on the Wii U as Nintendo continues its hunt for third-party support and also tries to allocate sufficient resources to its own projects, which Iwata admitted it has struggled to do.

“The number of developers who can use versatile web technologies such as HTML5 and JavaScript is probably more than 100 times larger than that of the current software developers for dedicated gaming machines,” he said.

“We would like them to create software for our console. "Wii Street U powered by Google" was actually developed by a very compact team whose core members had never developed games for dedicated gaming machines. As I have already mentioned, the application has been and will be updated constantly by a small development team, which means that the development environment has enabled us to significantly reduce development challenges.

“Since our announcement at GDC, we have received inquiries about it from hundreds of new development companies and individuals. We believe there will be something novel and fascinating from their development work, thereby expanding the range of the software available for Wii U.”

Iwata also discussed the console giant’s plans for the Unity development platform, which it hoped would attract a large proportion of Unity’s one million users into developing Wii U content. He added that use of the game engine and its HTML5 framework was also ideal for developers who could not afford traditional console game development.

“The other thing we announced was that developers can now use Unity, a cross-platform video game engine, for Wii U development, and we have started offering it to the developers,” he said.

“There are over a million Unity developers, including many in developing countries where the business of dedicated gaming machines is not prosperous. We would like to create opportunities for these developers to have their games available for Wii U. We hope that these actions to expand the range of software developers, in addition to the functions of Nintendo eShop and payments through e-money I mentioned before, will give us new business possibilities.”