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June 27, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO--Nintendo stole some of Microsoft's much-vaunted community games thunder Wednesday when it announced that the WiiWare channel would launch in North America on May 12, promising a wave of new titles developed by both indie and major developers available for download by Wii owners.

For consumers, the WiiWare channel will simply mean more games. But for developers, the launch of WiiWare dev tools will make it easier to create new games for Nintendo's popular console. It seems developers of all shapes and sizes have already taken up the challenge, with Nintendo of America's Tom Prata telling GameSpot that more than 100 projects were already in the pipeline.

While Prata would not say how many of those would be available on WiiWare's launch day, he did promise "a good breadth of titles that will cover a number of different genres."

Prata, senior director of project development, says Nintendo is also open to any and all ideas, and has placed few restrictions on the type of content it's looking to upload onto the WiiWare channel. GameSpot caught up with Prata at the Game Developers Conference here to glean some details on exactly what developers wanting to use WiiWare can expect from the toolset.

You've announced WiiWare will launch in North America on May 12. What are your plans for a global rollout?
Prata: We're really here today to talk about the North American launch; Japan will be discussing what they plan to do and Europe will be discussing their plans. We just felt that this is the largest game development conference, it's a great place for all the entities to come, so we thought it was the best place to discuss what North American plans are like. And of course, content creators will be working in Japan and in Europe and Australia, so even though we're only announcing the date for North America, content creators from around the world will be able to participate in our launch and the subsequent rollout of the content.

One of the goals with WiiWare is to give content creators the chance to make the content they like.

What will the WiiWare channel be like from a consumer point of view?
Prata: Effectively it will be a very user-friendly experience, like all the channels with Wii. You'll use your Wii remote to connect to the channel applications, you'll find the product that you're interested in downloading, use Wii points to buy it, and that will download just like a Virtual Console game to the consumer's system.

As for game developers, we're giving the opportunity for the game developer to decide what content they want to make. We're really excited by the possibility of what the Wii controller can mean to the game designer, and then what it means to the consumer.

What are your plans for the actual launch day? How many games will be available?
Prata: We haven't gone specifically into the launch plans. We need a little bit more time to work with the content creators. There are about 100 projects under development that are coming to the North American market, and we're going to spend time with them (the developers) to find out what their schedule is because once again we're not requiring a particular type of product. It's their decision to make, and it's also their decision to make based on the development schedule. So we're going to work collaboratively to work out what the development time is.

Likely what we'll do is launch with a good breadth of titles that will cover a number of different genres, and perhaps some unprecedented game experiences using the Wii remote. And what we'll do is consistently release new content, like we do with Virtual Console.

How about cost? How much will a WiiWare game cost?
Prata: We are still working as it relates to different pricing. We do anticipate that consumers will be able to download content for a variety of different prices, similar to what you can experience with Virtual Console.

From a developer point of view, are you open to all types of game ideas?
Prata: Effectively we are. I think if we go to content creators and say please make a game in this particular genre, it kind of defeats the purpose. One of the goals with WiiWare is to give content creators the chance to make the content they like. And we really don't want to pigeonhole them--what we'd like to really see is content that is for everybody, and also things that people haven't experienced before.

If we go back a number of years, a game like Brain Age--we couldn't possibly imagine what type of genre that game fits into, yet it can be so meaningful to people. It's really open for content creators to decide what to make.

CONTINUED: The process for developers…
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