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  1. #1
    Senior Member CantGetAWii's Avatar
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    Why Wii Shovelware Is A Good Thing

    Crappy, budget-priced Wii games like Rig Racer 2 and Pool Party aren't all bad. They don't spell trouble for the Wii. And in the end, they might end up being a good thing.

    A quick glance at the shelves at any game retailer will reveal a host of slapdash B-games, churned out by publishers you've never heard of to make a quick buck off Wii's success. You of course should not buy any of these games. And you shouldn't let your friends buy them, either, unless you hate your friends.

    But just because Nintendo allows these publishers to crank out garbage games for Wii doesn't mean they're bad people. In fact, it's a very healthy attitude to take towards a maturing market, one that could reap dividends for gamers in the long run.

    Clubbing The Seal

    You can't get a few minutes into a discussion of Wii shovelware without somebody asking, whether facetiously or not, "Whatever happened to the Nintendo Seal Of Quality?"

    Let's take a moment to define what that even is. The Nintendo Seal of Quality was a little icon placed on Nintendo-licensed products, starting in the days of the NES. It was intended to convey that Nintendo had tested the product and that it passed a certain quality standard, but mostly the mark meant that the game or accessory had been officially licensed by Nintendo.

    Coming off the Atari 2600, when most of the games on shelves were produced without Atari's consent or involvement and were of wildly varying levels of quality, this was seen as an important step to assure consumers that they were getting quality merchandise. It wasn't necessarily supposed to mean that every game would be as fun to play as Super Mario Bros. It meant that it was an officially licensed product, wouldn't void your warranty, free from defects in workmanship, etc.

    Sure, even back then people laughed at the Seal Of Quality when it was applied to terrible games. But as a reassurance to customers (read: Mom and Dad, who didn't know shit from Shinola when it came to making informed gaming purchases) that they weren't buying an off-brand game, it was a good idea. Civilization creator Sid Meier recently praised it as one of his top three innovations in gaming.

    It's important to remember that while Nintendo's competitors might not have copied the seal itself, they did take the idea: Every major game system since the NES has had a structure whereby third parties can create officially licensed software. It's gotten to the point where customers no longer need the extra reassurance. As such, the Nintendo Seal Of Quality doesn't actually exist anymore. For one thing, it's now the "Official Nintendo Seal." For another, it appears on the back of games, very tiny, not prominently on the front. Its original purpose is no longer an issue.

    What's odd is that with Wii, Nintendo is actually loosening the restrictions. Sony goes much farther than Nintendo did: They have a "concept approval" policy, whereby games still in the design or concept stages have to be sent in to Sony, who has an entire team devoted to reviewing them and can block games from appearing on PlayStation hardware. One well-known case in point was during the early PSP era, where Sony blocked all PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2 ports from appearing on the system unless they had roughly 30% brand-new, PSP-exclusive content.

    Nintendo has no such process. Here's what president Reggie Fils-Aime had to say on the subject last year: "In terms of a certification program, we already have a certification program, and publishers need to conform with a number of key aspects in order for the game to be published on our system. What we don't do, is we don't have some sort of filter for quality, because quality is so subjective."

    So basically, the "key aspects" that Nintendo looks for don't have anything to do with the quality of the gameplay, which means we can assume they're technical requirements.

    And all we really need to do is take a look at the Wii shelves down at the local Gamestop to figure out that Nintendo doesn't have any quality controls in place. Many of the $20 Wii games are quick ports of PlayStation 2 software that was only released in Europe -- software that Sony's U.S. branch wouldn't allow to be released.

    Glut Busters

    But isn't it a terrible thing for all of these quick cash-in games to clog the shelves? Surely bad games are never good. Surely consumers are only hurt by the possibility that they'll get suckered into buying a crappy game, right? And it can't be good for Nintendo, to have their good name smeared? Won't it give people a bad impression of the Wii and hurt their business?

    Well, Nintendo seems to be doing just fine. Even if Conspiracy Entertainment did sell out of all of their copies of Ninjabread Man, they're not exactly eating in to Nintendo's game sales. There hasn't been any wringing of hands in the mainstream media about these crappy Wii games, or any widespread disappointment with Wii among its install base. Wii Fit and Smash Bros. are hardly in danger.

    Is it a problem for third-party publishers, who don't have Nintendo's tight integration of hardware and software and have a tougher time competing on store shelves? Yes, but that shouldn't be Nintendo's problem. It's up to software makers to illustrate to consumers why they should invest in higher-priced, higher-quality software over budget knockoffs. It works in every other industry -- why not videogames?

    Another question from the peanut gallery. "But wasn't a glut of cheap, inferior software the cause of the game industry crash of 1983?" Whoa there. Yes, this is often cited as a major problem of that era. But to call this the one and only reason for the industry crash is a serious oversimplification.

    First of all, what really caused the software glut was irrational overexuberance on the part of buyers and game makers. They truly believed that demand for videogames was about to explode and that they could just churn out damn near anything and sell it. There was no controlling central authority to put the brakes on, and a lot of small companies popped up out of nowhere to create Atari games and make a quick buck.

    When the games business started to dip in 1983 and consumers stopped buying as many games as they had in previous years, retail buyers basically freaked out. For all they knew, the videogame fad was over and they were about to go the way of pet rocks and hula hoops. They canceled orders, they didn't buy all of the games from tiny companies -- they weren't even ordering from Atari. Atari (then owned by Warner) and Mattel and Coleco could have weathered the storm and convinced retailers that games were still a going concern. But they all decided that the videogame system was an obsolete relic, and that what consumers really wanted were personal computers, which were the natural evolution of game consoles.

    It does not need saying that we are in absolutely no danger of this happening today. The videogame industry is not going anywhere. Might a software glut that outstrips demand hurt the Wii? Maybe, but Nintendo can put the brakes on if it needs to. This isn't the 2600. If -- and this is a big if -- it is shown that games like Rig Racer 2 really are hurting Nintendo, they can put the kill on them.

    But at this point, demand for Wii software isn't being met by supply. Or it certainly wasn't over the holidays, when all of these junk games were released. Third parties haven't been putting out a lot of Wii software, and even as it continues to steamroller PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, they're still not announcing many major game releases. To put it another way, third parties created the gap that others stepped in to fill.

    And who's to say that Atari wouldn't have been able to solve, using better marketing, the game-glut issue? As I said, they never even bothered to try: They jumped right out of the pool the second somebody started peeing in it.

    Why It's A Good Thing

    Ratingsymbol_ao It's important to keep in mind that we're only talking about the American market when we talk of the "new" phenomenon of $20 budget-priced game racks. In the other two major markets, Europe and Japan, this has long been commonplace. These Wii shovelware games had to be shoveled from somewhere, and it's Europe. Sony doesn't allow the PlayStation 2 versions of games like Billy The Wizard in the U.S., but their friends across the Atlantic have no such compunctions.

    And D3 Publisher made its name by selling cheap budget software in Japan, under the Simple 2000 series. And they seem to be doing fine, too. As a matter of fact, Japan is a good example of how this kind of free-market stance can end up being good for consumers. A lot of the early Simple series games weren't good, but eventually they had some hits.

    D3 managed to break into a market that had been controlled by the same few publishers ever since the Famicom days. Could Bold Games or Conspiracy Entertainment bring us the next Oneechanbara? How about the next Zombie vs. Ambulance? You never know; they might come up with a game that's actually worth twenty bones.

    And if third parties are too scared of failure to do anything without somebody first lighting the way, what does it mean for us that companies like Bold have proved that there is a market for inexpensive Wii games that are light on features? Surely Capcom could come up with some $20 game concepts. Or Electronic Arts.

    And why do we think that consumers can't figure it out? Why do videogames have to be the one product for which we believe they need to have their hands held? I loved He-Man as a kid. There were all kinds of crappy knock-off action figures in the cereal aisle at the supermarket for $1. Did anybody buy them for me? No. They knew what the real deal was and paid more for it.

    Go into a Walgreens and look by the cash register. See the giant dump bin of $2 DVD movies? These don't stop anybody from buying the films they really want to see at full price at Virgin Megastore across the street.

    All Nintendo is doing is opening up the market and exerting less control over what people can make for the Wii. Plus, think about it. Nintendo's official line here is that they're not putting creative restraints on game makers, which is wholly incompatible with their rationale for why they won't allow Adults Only-rated games on Wii.

    If Nintendo doesn't think it's a problem that awful games like Monster Trux Offroad have the Nintendo logo on them and are associated with their company, why is it an issue if an AO-rated game like Manhunt 2 is released on Wii? That same laissez-faire philosophy might actually start applying to games we want to play.

    A more hands-off approach to the game market from console makers is good for gamers, even if it lands us a bunch of bad games in the meantime.
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  2. #2
    WiiChat Member illmasaki's Avatar
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    what is shovelware?
    is shovelware budget titles or minigames?
    if price what makes a game shovelware
    in that case all shovel sucks especially
    zack and wiki despite its high scoring reviews and many people praising it

    or is shovelware a bunch of minigames?
    then wiisports is shovelware


    there are good thing and bad things about shovelware
    but if the game is all around bad it doesnt matter if its shovelware or not it is a bad thing
    why even release a game thats really bad for every1
    bad isnt a game u dont like bad is a game that doesnt function well
    like having a childs game that has a confusing start menu

    small companys usually develope shovelware but it doesnt mean that game or games on it should be bad

    if more shovelware was good there wouldnt even be a question and theses games would be just a game

    minigames arent bad infact i can see how ubisoft learned how to take advantage of the wiimote and nunchuck when they developed rayman

    but back to my main question what is shovelware
    is shovelware something that non gamers play
    or is it minigames that suck

  3. #3
    Guru of everything Ninty wezeles's Avatar
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    Wow needs alot of fixes..

    One big reason for the video game crash "and the reason behind the Nintendo Seal of Quality" is because of the fact that anyone and everyone could make games for the game systems at the time "As they can today, ill come back to this in a minute" There was no security and little to no copyright/patent protection. Because of this you saw 6, 7, even 8 different types of game cartridges from all the different 3rd party companies pushing games onto one console.
    Take atari 2600 for instance. Half of these games I'm sure Atari them self didn't even know existed.
    [media]http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c118/wezeles/100_1681.jpg[/media]
    I have hundreds of Atari games maybe half are official Atari or even use the "atari" game cartridge

    Now as for Nintendo's Case and what they did was kinda funny. Nintendo's NES came out with the 10NES chip, It effectively stop pretty much anyone from making a unlicensed 3rd party game on there system without violating copyrights. Which worked to deter them for the most part but a some did make it to the system.
    Nintendo seal of quality had nothing to do with if Nintendo inspected a game or not, or that the quality of the game was good. There was no quality testing! All that the Seal of Quality meant was that it was an officially licensed product from Nintendo. It should have really been called the "Nintendo Seal of Approval" showing that it was a licensed game because it had nothing to do with quality, just the fact that Nintendo knew it exsisted and the rights were paid for it. lol

    Examples:
    [media]http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c118/wezeles/nintendo.jpg[/media]
    What's funny is Tengen is actually part of Atari Games, And they tryed to do the same thing to Nintendo as was done to them and killed there own console.
    They illegaly obtained the information on the 10NES chip by contacting the patent office and some how getting the information, they then performed a "spike" style hack to the 10NES security.

    Other companies such as Wisdom Tree used a different method of bypassing the 10NES chip that required you to press a location on the game during the power on cycle to also perform a spike, but this method didn't violate patent's and wasn't really sought after.
    A few in Europe and Australia used a dongle system that attached to a licensed game would allow you to play an unlicensed game.
    So thats it in a nutshell, there was never really a quality standard just a 3rd party police. ha ha

    Now as you can see the real problem was people physically making games on there own for consoles, separate from the console itself. When it comes to what games make it to a console, that honesty isn't entirely up to Nintendo or any other console for that matter.

    The FCC and other agencies look at game consoles no different than say a VHS or DVD player. The view twards this is the VHS/DVD manufacturing company can not tell people what can and can not be made to play on the VCR/DVD player you made. That goes for any other hardware system.
    The loophole to this is to patent/copyright every little aspect of the product so only the people you give a "license" to will have an easy time making games for the console.
    In the world of gaming this is the only real security they have in making money beyond console sales. That's why we see them put so much time,effort,money into security features.

    So the way it works for 3rd party is you go and buy the "license" to make games for a console. This usually is a nice developers package of info of how the file format,encoding of software, as well as development tips.
    Without this you would pretty much have no clue where to start you wouldn't know what file format its using or anything so the cost to bypass this step would be more than you could make up for.
    Every consoles puts tons of money into encoding and security and most likely, as with Tengen's case, you would end up violating a patent any way if you tried to bypass security, or at the least be using technology that the rights belong to said company "i.e. the file format".

    So now that we got that outta the way, If you do own a license to make games you honestly could make them all you want, anything you want, with no way for Nintendo or whatever console to say no.

    Here is the problem, you would only get away with this once I assure you. If you shovel crap onto a console to make a quick buck by the next time they make a console you will be the last person they give a license to. Thats why anyone who wants to stay in the gaming business, specially with the same console for more than one generation, must do as they say. This usually means abiding but what they say is cool and not cool to toss onto the system.

    In the end if these games are bad enough they will not get there license renewed, and they will not be around next time. All there is to it. Until then they can shovel away no one can really stop them like is referenced here.

    I agree with him though, It may suck but its a part of every console and every aspect of gaming and chances are we will get a few decent games for a rock bottom price. Nintendo just seems to have open the door a little to far this time and may have handed out to many welcomes. I doubt it will reflect poorly on Nintendo. The prices alone keep the shovelware pretty obvious. And the fact that so many small shovelware companies are turning a profit with little investment shows to "Big" 3rd party what they should make with a decently invested game.
    Because lets be honest very few 3rd party games so far have invested much into Wii games! They cry about sales but compared to other consoels they are selling just as well if not better when you look at the money invested to money earned aspect of it. Hopefully we will see the change of heart soon because the only one missing out will be Big 3rd party not anyone else.
    Last edited by wezeles; 03-08-2008 at 07:02 AM.


  4. #4
    WiiChat Member WiitnessID's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wezeles
    Wow needs alot of fixes..

    Great post! And yeah shovel ware is a good thing. It makes gamestop artificially increase the WIi's software shelf space LOL. Really I don't see the shovel ware hurting the Wii that much. The solution to it is more quality software that takes up it's spot on the shelf. There are plenty of games out there yet the dealers will soon realize that these shovel ware games are not really selling that well.

    Also too some simple games are welcome like bomber man! Right now people are putting more shovel ware out on this system because they feel as though they can take advantage of the new comers. LOL You have to realize it is actually hard to be an successful POP game makers or casual gamer maker. These game console developers will learn the same thing.

    The Wii is a good system because it can support shovel ware and good games. If the PS3 got shovel it would be dead. Same for the 360 and since it is now going to get ports from the PS3 then you can call that shovel ware in a way.
    Last edited by WiitnessID; 03-07-2008 at 04:08 PM.

  5. #5
    Guru of everything Ninty wezeles's Avatar
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    Well look at PS1 and PS2 the winners of the previous generations. PS1 was full of shovelware, but it had just as many good titles as well.
    PS2 was the same way, sure it got the big titles but it had plenty of low budget crap aswell.

    This happens every gen in video game consoles. Shovelware makes its way to the most "casual supported" system.
    With the peopel that arn't die hard gamers, a game is a game to alot of them. They look at it as 20 bucks is better than 50 so they buy it. Although it might not make the top 10 sold games, shoveware always pops up because its an easy way to make a quick buck. Just remeber if you never heard of the publisher or never saw or heard anything about it don't buy it. Pretty easy to avoid the shovelware but its always tempting to pick up a 20 dollar game just to see what its like.

    Good thing is it shows Shovelware Publishers are thinking the Wii will be the most popular system.

    Bad thing is we have to sift through games much like on PS1, PS2 because of it.

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