Following up our recent announcement that Dahku is done with game development, we have some thoughts on the current state of the Wii U eShop, and why we think things turned out the way they did for us. This may be informative for fellow small devs looking to Wii U as a development option, and it may be of interest if you're one of the few who like what we do.
There are people out there who don't want the eShop to turn into the App Store, and we're in total agreement with that sentiment. It may seem hypocritical for us to say that, seeing as we ported two iOS games over to Wii U, but having tried our luck in both markets, there seems to be a bit of a misconception among Nintendo fans about what makes the App Store what it is.
Cheaper/casual games aren't inherantly bad. If you think of AAA console titles as being 5-Star restaurants and little indie titles as being fast food places, it's pretty clear that both have their place. If you want a wonderful dining experience with all the frills and are willing to pay for it, you can go to one of those fancy places, but if don't have the cash or you're in a hurry, fast food is a great option. The world needs both. So it is with games. The problem comes when everyone crowds in, hoping to make some quick and easy money by using the low price tag as an excuse for poor quality.
Poor quality overcrowding is what made the App Store suck, and then when there were so many $0.99 games that people had to be selective, free-to-play with ads and/or in-app-purchases became the only way to go. These days it's practically impossible to make money if you're charging up front, and even free-to-play games are having a hard time because people have become selective about those as well.
Sadly, this is where we see the eShop heading. It may take a while and it probably won't ever be as bad as the App Store, but developers are already taking advantage of the lack of quality control on Wii U to whip games up as fast as they can and make a quick buck. One Wii U developer out there has stated that he made his latest rip-off game in two days, and he intends to charge a dollar or two. Maybe it will succeed, maybe it won't, but if it does he'll make a bundle on practically no investment, and if it doesn't then he won't have lost much by trying. Based on his track record, it looks like he intends to keep making these poor quality games indefinitely. It's hard to fault such people for good business sense, but they're already causing long-term damage to the eShop, and it will probably hurt them in the end.
As for Dahku, we put a lot of thought and poured months of hard work into our $2 game, and when it didn't succeed we had to give up the dream of ever creating something better. Maybe it's for the best. If Chubbins and Soon Shine had earned us enough that we could have scraped by and tried again, the market indicates to us that we'd be fools to aim higher when it's so much easier and smarter to pump out junk. But that's just not our style. We aren't a 5-Star dining experience, but neither are we a fast food joint; we're more like a little local restaurant, working hard to make good food for those who come, but failing to attract enough customers to stay in business. There just doesn't seem to be a place for us.
We may have brought two iOS games to Wii U, but they're not what's making the eShop into the App Store. Despite what a few people with short tempers, short attention spans, or iOS-hatred have said, we know we brought some solid games to the Wii U, and for that at least we can walk away with some pride.