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Just 17 - Part Two

Martyn Brown talks WiiWare, iPhone, release dates and the question of price points What's your perception of WiiWare?
Martyn Brown

I think there's a lack of maturity on the Nintendo side - there are, what, 30 or 40 million Wiis out there, but I'm not quite sure how many users are connected. My theory on Nintendo in that because of the way they handle online gaming as a number, they're two steps away from social interaction - and the shopping experience isn't so great, either. But the company's been very careful to make sure it's protecting children, and so on?
Martyn Brown

Oh I see the point, but having compared it to Live Arcade, and a lesser extent PSN, I don't think it really encourages people to be on there. However, I don't believe their audience is the kind that would really go online and seek out games, so I think they've got some work to do.

That said, we have got WiiWare plans, and we are talking to Nintendo about a title - so eventually, I think they know they've got to get a presence there because that's the way it's going. The new start-ups these days are mostly going to the iPhone platform now, which is great - but there's a lot of Apps on the Store. What are your thoughts on that platform?
Martyn Brown

Well, we've got Worms for the iPhone, so it's something we've been looking at. Our approach to the iPhone, having spoken to representatives from Apple, is to treat it seriously as a console. So the version of Worms we're doing is pretty much the PS3 version, running on an iPhone. You've got very high production values for the title, rather than something that's quickly put together.

I must admit, there are probably only 30 or 40 game applications for the iPhone that I like and have got the sort of quality I'd expect, if they're going to be serious about games. I know there's 13,000 on there now...

I just think it's very difficult to maintain any kind of attention on that because of the way that the App Store works. They've kind of got organised chaos at the moment. But that's the risk you run having an open platform?
Martyn Brown

Yes, but it's a double-edged sword. What I love about the iPhone is that it gives people a commercial platform to aim at. You can do stuff pretty cheaply and quickly on there, and start-ups can get a foot in the door and create new ideas. I think in terms of that I think it's a great thing.

We've certainly got plans for it - we want to treat it almost like another SKU, alongside the DS, PSP, whatever. We'll certainly be putting a lot of stuff on iPhone. When you're looking at doing an iPhone version of a game, how much in terms of resources can you justify putting into it? It's not yet got the installed base of other consoles, and you're competing at much lower price points against lots more other Apps...
Martyn Brown

Would we do a standalone iPhone game at the moment? I'm not sure. We've justified it by having spent some time building a cross-platform development platform, and we added in the iPhone to our internal tech.

So what we can do then, when we're developing a game like Worms that's cross-platform we can then put it onto iPhone, and it'll take about three months of embellishment to get the controls and stuff. That was certainly a lot cheaper than writing an iPhone title from scratch.

The team's therefore pretty small, but pretty strong because it's got the benefit of a big team doing the main game. We've been able to structure it like that, but to do a full, new game for iPhone... until we know what the model is, because pricing's an issue. We'll be going out at GBP 2.99, but the pricing is a little Wild West at the moment...

We've justified the resource in terms of what we expect and what Apple believe we might do on there, with a known IP and a quality implementation - but since we've gone completely independent we're only interested in hitting things that are very, very good and of a high standard.

If Worms iPhone is a massive success, then it may ramp up our focus on that platform. Right now we can develop a new title, a new project, and hit quite a number of digital platforms pretty easily and rapidly.

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