Saturday, March 17, 2007

Game Geek:, a Trespasser in Nintendo's Walled Garden

Earlier this month I posted about the ability to surf the web on the Nintendo Wii with the Opera Browser. Last week, at the GDC, I overheard a bunch of programmers geeking out about, a site that let's you play web-based flash games with your Wii.

Since the birth of the videogame industry, console manufacturers (Atari, Sega, Nintendo) have extracted enormous licensing fees from game developers in exchange for being allowed to produce games for their console. It's called controlling the channel, and smart companies understand that if you control the channel, then you can demand nearly any sum from others who want to use that channel to reach their audience. It's why Microsoft and Sony don't care if they lose money on every console they sell. They want to own the living room.

Of all the console companies, Nintendo is most strict about licensing. They are obsessed with controlling their console and what content is put on it.

So they must be a bit frothy about, a site that enables developers to create and show off flash games for the Wii. To play the games, you have to install the Opera Web Browser on the Wii, which is relatively easy. Once you have the browser installed you can play any game you like...

...using you wiimote!

I figured I needed to yell so that you would realize how cool that is.

Now, anyone can create a game to be played on the Wii, and they don't need to get Nintendo's permission. That's huge. It's as if the owners of Wrigley Field opened up their baseball stadium for anyone to play on. And I hate baseball, but even I'd like to play on Wrigley Field.

Wiicade is the first crack in the garden wall. Hopefully, the wrecking ball is just around the corner.