In just under two weeks, Nintendo will launch their WiiWare service in the U.S. Yet with 13 days to go, Nnooo creative director Nic Watt still doesn't know how much his WiiWare title, "Pop," will cost.
He does have a range for his multiplayer, bubble-based shooter: 500 to 800 Wii Points (translated: between $5 and $8).
"For a new company like ourselves, pricing is a really tough issue particularly on something like a downloadable service where there are games at a variety of prices," said Watt in an e-mail interview with MTV Multiplayer last week. "Disc-based games are somewhat easier as they all generally retail for about the same price."
Gamers have price and value expectations for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. For now, Watt uses Virtual Console as a yard stick for perceived value. "We feel we are somewhere between a NES and SNES game in price," he said.
One thing that WiiWare won't have, though, is demos. Demos are a requirement for XBL Arcade but merely an option on PSN. For Watt, the difference is moot; he doesn't think a demo would help "Pop" out.
"Because of Pop's simple nature and the fact that there are not levels or weapons, per se, a demo could give enough to the player that they wouldn't need to buy the final game," he admitted. "A good example of this would be 'Tetris,' playing a demo of the first one to five difficulty levels in 'Tetris' could very well give a lot of people enough 'Tetris' such that they never need to buy the final game!"
I asked Watt to think about how demos have influenced his own purchasing decisions. I told him that like many people, I've become more selective.
"Demos are a really hard one," he said. "For me personally I know that there are more games I have not bought on the strength (or weakness) of a demo than those which have spurned me to run out and get the final game. Good demos don't just give you all the abilities and drop you into a section of the game. Instead, they need to be really tailored experiences, which leave you wanting more. Making a really good demo takes a lot of work and can hinder the completion of the actual game."
Sony made a similar argument to Stephen Totilo not too long ago. Watt believes a trailer will suffice. He thinks the impending launch of the Nintendo Channel, set to feature video and other info. on upcoming games, should help solve the problem of a missing demo.
Unlike the rest of the gaming world, I got to experience a "Pop" demo and make an informed decision. Chances are you won't have that same option.
Will I end up buying "Pop" next month? I'm not sure. For starters, Watt needs to tell me how much it'll cost.