March 25, 2008
November 18, 2012
|Platform||Wii, Wii U|
|Status||Discontinued for new business as of March 26, 2018; Officially retiring on January 30, 2019|
WiiWare was a service that allows Wii users to download games and applications specifically designed and developed for the Wii video game console made by Nintendo. These games and applications can only be purchased and downloaded from the Wii Shop Channel under the WiiWare section. Once the user has downloaded the game or application, it will appear in their Wii Menu or SD Card Menu as a new channel. WiiWare is a companion to the Virtual Console, which specializes in emulated games originally developed for other systems instead of original games.
WiiWare was promoted as an avenue for developers with small budgets to release innovative, original, and smaller-scale games without the cost and risk of creating a title to be sold at retail (akin to Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Store). The development kit costs around US$2000 and developers need to be licensed with and approved by Nintendo. According to Nintendo, the "remarkable motion controls will give birth to fresh takes on established genres, as well as original ideas that currently exist only in developers' minds". Nintendo will handle all pricing options for the downloadable games.
Like Virtual Console games, WiiWare was purchased using Nintendo Points. However, unlike Virtual Console games, instruction manuals were stored on the Wii Shop Channel itself.
On November 4, 2009, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed in Q&A session that they are planning to test downloadable demos for a select few WiiWare titles, starting in Japan later in the month. On November 16, five WiiWare demos were released for the American Wii Shop Channel, with these later being released in Europe. The demos were available to download until January 31, 2010. More recently, another six demos have become available to download. On January 12, 2012, all 50 original WiiWare demos were re-released and are now available in North America. A few more demo releases followed suit.
Unlike its portable equivalent DSiWare, WiiWare games are currently unavailable natively via the Nintendo eShop. However, WiiWare games are purchasable and fully playable on the Wii U console - the Wii's successor - via Wii Mode. Ever since the Wii U launched in November 2012 with its vastly improved Nintendo eShop digital distribution, in comparison to the DSiWare Shop, the Wii Shop Channel had very rarely seen brand new WiiWare releases. As of July 2014 , the Wii Shop Channel has received the global release of Retro City Rampage (February 2013), the global re-release of a retail Wii game called Deer Drive Legends (November 2013), and the North American re-release of a retail Wii game called Karaoke Joysound (July 2014).
On September 29, 2017, with the announcement of the Wii Shop Channel being closed on January 30, 2019, the WiiWare games on the Wii (as well as the backwards compatibility on the Wii U) can no longer be purchased.
On October 10, 2007, Nintendo held a press conference in Japan revealing the first batch of major Japanese WiiWare games including My Pokémon Ranch, Dr. Mario Online Rx, and Square Enix's Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King. The conference also disclosed information on Family Table Tennis,Mojipittan, Maruboushikaku, and Magnetica Twist. Game developer Hudson also announced 3 WiiWare titles: Bomberman Blast, Star Soldier R, and Joysound, the latter a karaoke game. Hudson later revealed that it had at least 10 WiiWare titles in development for the first year of release.Capcom, Namco, Sega, Taito and Konami also subsequently announced and later released games for the service.
Among Western developers, Telltale Games was one of the first to cite interest in the service, announcing the episodic Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People series of adventure games.GarageGames has released a version of their game engine to support WiiWare software development. Other Western developers releasing WiiWare games include Gameloft, Neko Entertainment, WayForward Technologies, Zoonami, Frozen Codebase and High Voltage Software. Konami and Capcom has also expressed desire to release Western-exclusive WiiWare games.
Currently available WiiWare games in Japan and North America are priced between 500 and 1500 Nintendo Points. Additional downloadable content has also been announced for several games, with My Life as a King seeing extra content priced between 100 and 800 Points,Final Fantasy IV: The After Years receiving content ranging from 300 to 800 Points, and Mega Man 9 and 10 seeing content priced between 100 and 500 Points.
Other developers have criticised the 40MB size limit imposed on games on the service; the WiiWare version of Super Meat Boy was cancelled after the developer refused to compromise on quality in order to pass under the size limit. Trent Oster of Beamdog, who released MDK2 on the service also criticised the file size limit, in addition to the lengthy certification process and the minimum sales requirement of 6,000 units before receiving any payment from Nintendo. For Brian Provinciano, the developer of Retro City Rampage, the threshold was 5,000 units, which the game failed to hit.
My problems with Nintendo are: requiring 6000 unit sales before payment, a certification process that took us 9 months and a 40mb limit