Karthik Bala talks about starting a video game business and mentions some things about Wii Ware, Guitar Hero Wii, and Wii Fit.
Vicarious Visions CEO Karthik Bala spoke in one of the final sessions of the 2007 RIT Entrepreneurs Conference in Rochester, NY. His session, titled Creating a Video Game Company: The Vicarious Visions Story, focused on what it takes to make a successful business in the industry. It's no secret that Vicarious Visions owe much of their success to Nintendo's platforms, as Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, a launch title for Game Boy Advance, was one of the games that really made them a top level game development house and led to their acquisition by Activision. Because of this, some interesting insights on Nintendo from his perspective came through in his presentation.
Given his audience, one of the main aspects of the talk was what it takes to break into the industry. After mentioning how nearly impossible it is for a small, rookie development house to compete with the multimillion dollar budgets being used in retail games, he moved on to the potential for online publishing. After alluding to the difficulty of getting a game onto Xbox Live Arcade, due to Microsoft's vigorous approval process, he expressed his excitement in Nintendo's WiiWare service. As Nintendo stated with their original (and only) announcement of the service, he stated that it would launch early next year and emphasized how open Nintendo was being with development kits and what they were going to allow on the service. He seemed convinced that this was going to be a gateway for many independent developers operating on small budgets. Given that Nintendo has been incredibly quiet about this since the original announcement, it's interesting to hear the points restated by a third party.
That wasn't all of the Nintendo talk. When talking about current projects, he expressed his excitement about this month's launch of the Wii version of Guitar Hero III, which his team worked on. He said he really enjoyed working with the combination of the guitar peripheral and the Wii remote that plugs into it. The presentation ended with him showing the trailer for Wii Fit from E3. He talked about just how much the industry was changing and mentioned games like Brain Age in connection with the trailer as evidence of that.
Vicarious Visions is one of Activision's key developers. Hearing Mr. Bala's enthusiasm for Nintendo's platforms should mean continued Nintendo support going forward.