- Is Nintendo's insistence that 3rd parties sell a certain amount of software before they can even be "given" the money they're owed anti-3rd party? In my opinion it is.
While I'm rarely the first to come out in defense of Nintendo's digital distribution business plans, this one isn't all that crazy. In fact, it's actually somewhat better (based on my limited understanding of it all).
Let's say you're developing a game to be released on disc - when you send the data to Nintendo (or whomever) to be published, you have to front - at least - part of the costs (although, sometimes, if the publisher knows it's going to be a hit, they might front all the costs) for pressing the discs, packaging, etc.
Then, as the game sales, you don't get 100% of the sale price. The publisher (and distributors and retail stores) all take their cut - then, you get your part of the sale.
Let's say you make a $50 game... for every copy that sales, you get $10. Now, you had to pay $20,000 of the total publishing costs to get your game published. *bamn*, you have to sell 2,000 copies of your game before you make a profit. (Made up all those numbers off the top of my head).
My understanding of the WiiWare service is something similar - Nintendo "publishes" the game (server space, bandwidth, some very minor promotion - and the man power to do it all) - except that they front 100% of the costs. I don't believe (although I could be wrong) that Nintendo charges anything for this. So, before the developer gets any money from Nintendo, Nintendo wants to make back their costs (i.e.: sell the minimum number of units).
With this plan, if the developer doesn't sell the minimum number of units, they're not out a dime - but with the physical method, they're out $20k - $10 for each copy they did manage to sell.