When it comes to WiiWare sale numbers, it appears Nintendo likes its developers like it likes its protagonists; silent.
Last week, because nothing “new year party” like a set of graphs, Icon Games Entertainment posted a summary of its self-publishing sales numbers. The list contained sales figures for its games on iOS, PSN and the Wiiware service. Shortly after, Nintendo contacted the company and asked it to take the WiiWare sales numbers down.
The request was apparently due to Nintendo policy, which prohibits independent developers from revealing sales numbers. A policy Richard Hill-Whittall, owner and director of Icon Games, takes some umbrage with.
“As to why [Nintendo requested the numbers be taken down], 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?” he wrote on Icon’s official blog. “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.”
Hill-Whittall argues that without concrete sales figures, small developers will find it difficult to acquire funding from financial institutions and develop effective development and release strategies. He also criticized Nintendo policies that prevent developers from altering the price of their titles, running promotions or releasing demos. Features that both Sony and Microsoft offer on their respective indie marketplaces.
“Essentially Nintendo’s policy does its best to prevent often vulnerable indie studios from building and running stable businesses,” he writes. “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.”