Satoru Iwata talks Virtual Console development, explains slow releases


Nintendo’s Virtual Console service has never been consistent. It’s shown tremendous promise but been let down with slow releases, releases only on some consoles and it essentially started from scratch when the Wii U launched. We recently only just got Nintendo 64 games back on the service, and DS games are on the Wii U and the SNES isn’t on the console that has SNES coloured buttons.

Lucky for us a keen investor loves the Virtual Console and wanted to know why releases have been slow on the service and here’s what Iwata had to say;

Virtual Console itself is a service that began when we developed Wii so that consumers can play past titles on new platforms, and we continue to distribute various titles now. However, back when we started this service, there were some points that we could not sufficiently foresee about how big this business would grow to be and how the business would expand. For example, Virtual Console titles are generally developed based on the original game software, but this does not mean that we can develop numerous Virtual Console titles simply if we have the original game software. Development of Virtual Console titles require detailed manual work, such as testing if the software runs smoothly on each platform, or making sure the content is appropriate under the various standards currently in place. Thus, we occasionally receive opinions that our pace of releasing new Virtual Console titles is slow, but if we use much of our human resources on such detailed manual work, we would not be able to develop new titles, so we are currently researching how we can efficiently develop Virtual Console titles with limited human resources. One of the big issues for our system development is how to resolve the situation in which we can only release a few Virtual Console titles at a time when we release new platforms.

So that explains why game releases are slow. Nintendo’s focus is more on new stuff, and to focus anymore on the Virtual Console then they already do would impact this further.

The same investor also asked why Nintendo’s entire back catalogue isn’t available, you guessed it Рlicensing;

In addition, regarding the possibility of making all titles available on Virtual Console, I can say that it is possible for Nintendo titles with a few exceptions, since we generally have the intellectual property rights for such titles. However, as to third-party software publishers’ titles, if they are producing the software based on a license from another copyright holder, for example, we may not be able to easily use the same title for the system that exists now because we do not have a license from the copyright holder at the time. This often becomes a problem with reruns of TV shows or Internet broadcasting. Therefore, since we can only release Virtual Console titles of third-party software publishers if they come to an agreement with the copyrights holders upon negotiating terms and conditions that were not included in their original contract, please understand that there are some titles that we cannot easily release despite many requests. We will make our best efforts to satisfy our consumers with our Virtual Console title lineup.

Should Nintendo put more people onto the Virtual Console side of things, could they get someone to help? Is it worth putting more money into getting older licences? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Source: Nintendo

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  • Mort
    July 3, 2015 at 6:41 am

    doesnt explain the input lag issues

    • Nicholas Steel
      July 4, 2015 at 1:48 am

      That’s almost definitely a problem with your TV. LCD TV’s do a lot of “processing” before displaying a picture and depending on a ton of factors and variables, there can be perceptable delay caused by the processing. Do the games respond instantly on the Wii U gamepad display?

    • Tanukitrooper
      July 9, 2015 at 10:27 am

      I keep hearing about input lag issues but have never witnessed them in any of my titles. Sometimes I think people mistake the clunky physics and controls of the past as being laggy. One of the issues I hear people complain about is wall kicking in SM64, which has always been really hard to pull off because it’s not as forgiving as wall kicking in Mario games today (where Mario slides down the wall).

  • Nicholas Steel
    July 3, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    So, instead of focusing on making emulators that can run multiple games they will persist in using game specific emulators to drastically increase the amount of time and effort required to release a virtual console title. That’s what I gathered from all that virtual console stuff.

    • Tanukitrooper
      July 9, 2015 at 10:22 am

      Sony does this for their legacy consoles and I have noticed the quality of the titles end up being much more varied than the consistent quality of Nintendo’s VC. So really it’s just a matter of quality or quantity, and we all know Nintendo strongly prefers the former when it comes to their software.

  • Nor
    July 3, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Man, do whatever u have to, to get the whole back catalogue available and charge 5-10 a month for unlimited access to every game. Set and forget. Nobody can compete with that back catalogue.

  • Jeremy
    July 4, 2015 at 6:54 am

    Iwata, how do you expect us to understand when you treat the Wii U Virtual Console like a special need child and give it titles while the 3DS Virtual Console has not had any new additions in months? We are still waiting for that to be updated.

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