Is ease of development harming the iPhone?

WiiWare and iPhone developer Nnooo thinks it is

Is ease of development harming the iPhone?

In a recent interview, iPhone and WiiWare developer Nic Watt of Nnooo (that’s his studio’s name) pointed out the clear appeal of developing for the iPhone, but that the ease of access is harming the overall quality of the App Store.

“The iPhone makes it very easy to make a game and get it to market quickly as there are much fewer hoops to jump through in comparison with the Wii,” Watt told Develop.

“On the iPhone we make the game, age rate it through Apple’s submission site and wait for Apple to certify us. On the Wii we must liaise with all of the various ratings agencies around the world and pay their fees - usually about $1000 per game per territory - as well as comply with Nintendo’s strict testing requirements.”

But as difficult as it is to break into the WiiWare market, Watt feels that the stricter submissions and more costly investment is conducive to encouraging quality in the platform - something Apple’s system doesn’t have.

“The pros to Apple's system are that ... you can turn a game round quickly and release it quickly. The cons are that you have no control over when the game comes out and, due to the ease of making software, there is a flood of apps coming to market making it hard to get noticed. I feel that this flood is lowering the quality benchmark, which in the end makes it unlikely you will easily be able to recoup costs.”

Indeed, many iPhone developers are learning their way through this new marketing opportunity with varying degrees of success and failure. Many developers are unsure about marketing and promotional procedures, while others are seeking alternative revenue streams to effectively monetise their products.

It could just as easily be argued that quality will rise through the system regardless of quantity, as users become increasingly discerning as highly innovative titles - such as Zen Bound and Hysteria Project, for example - organically increase awareness of the platform’s potential; something a tightly governed platform such as WiiWare doesn’t easily manage.

One way or another, Watt makes a good point that the changed face of game development, distribution and promotion is throwing up entirely new challenges for the modern games industry, and developers need to find solutions quickly, or see their games fall into immediate obscurity.