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Icon Games forbidden from publishing own Wii Ware sales numbers

Update: Dev asks Nintendo to explain position


Icon Games' Richard Hill-Whittall has issued an exclusive statement to GamesIndustry.biz, asking for Nintendo to justify their position on the matter.

"I'd really like to hear from Nintendo to get some idea why they have this policy," said Hill-Whittall.

"What benefit is it to them to silence any discussion of sales numbers - do they feel this is a fair and reasonable policy? It baffles me to be honest, how they can think this is the way to deal with developers/publishers. What is the justification?"

Original Story

Icon Games, a London-based developer which creates titles for iOS, PC, PSN and Wii, has publicly revealed that Nintendo asked for Wii Ware sales figures to be removed from the company's blog.

Previously, Icon had listed a break down of units sold on each of its platforms, but has now had to remove the numbers for Wii digital retail.

In a post explaining the move, Icon has made clear that, whilst it's fairly common policy for platform holders to frown on the publishing of figures by developers, Nintendo has so far been the only company to ask for their removal.

"Yesterday Nintendo got in touch to ask us to remove the figures for the WiiWare titles from the blog," reads the explanatory post. "Apparently they don't allow developers to publish the sales numbers of their self-published titles.

"As to why, I can't really be sure - are they scared to reveal how their online services perform or do they just dislike developers being able to run effective businesses? It is a tricky one - and incredibly unfair and damaging to indie developers publishing on Nintendo stores.

"I don't believe Nintendo are necessary alone in this policy, but I believe they are by far the most draconian in enforcing it. I have seen many different reports from developers for games on XBLA, PSN, Steam and so on with details of sales figures, but never anything for a Nintendo store."

The developer then goes on to explain why this could be a damaging policy, reasoning that without published numbers, it's impossible for potential Wii Ware devs to effectively plan their business model.

"Essentially Nintendo's policy does its best to prevent often vulnerable indie studios from building and running stable businesses. It projects all of the risk back to the developer, stops them gaining access to funding to help grow their business and essentially makes self-publishing on Nintendo platforms a huge gamble.

"And let's not forget that Nintendo also don't allow you to ever alter the price of your title, run any sort of promotion, offer demos or indeed use any of the other tools that publishers traditionally use to maximise sales and extend the longevity of revenue earned per title.

"Sure - releasing any game is a risk, but the more sales & user data you can access the more carefully you can formulate a development strategy. If you don't have access to any data at all, it is impossible to run a business with any degree of forward planning or forecasting. Try running that past a business advisor or mentor - they would shake their head and strongly advise against it."

Nintendo has also been contacted for comment.

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Dan Pearson