WiiWare 1-ups Virtual Console with new downloadable titles

Nintendo Wednesday announced service on the Wii that will allow users to experience the best that independent game developers have to offer. WiiWare, as this service is called, will allow gamers to download original games designed specifically for the Nintendo Wii. This move expands Nintendo’s online distribution model to be similar to Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Store, both of which allow for the purchase and download of original games and revamped ports.

“Independent developers armed with small budgets and big ideas will be able to get their original games into the marketplace to see if we can find the next smash hit,” says Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime. “WiiWare brings new levels of creativity and value to the ever-growing population of Wii owners.”

Rather than focusing on classic titles from consoles of old, which still remains as the domain of the Virtual Console, WiiWare seeks to find new games based on unique, exploratory ideas developed not only by large third-party developers, but smaller independent developers as well. Nintendo will control the pricing of the titles, as well as check for bugs and compatibility, but otherwise, content will be completely controlled by the games’ developers. A restriction is that games rated Adults Only by the ESRB will be prohibited, as is any game on the Nintendo Wii, as we saw during last week’s Manhunt 2 incident.

WiiWare will be available through the Wii Shop Channel at the cost of Wii points, the store’s virtual currency. Concrete release dates have not yet been announced, but titles from both Nintendo and third parties will be available sometime next year.

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