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E3 06: THQ: Wii dev costs fraction of PS3's, 360's

Publisher talks cost and ease of development for Nintendo's next-generation system.


THQ gave its quarterly earnings report today, and the analysts' conference call that followed saw the publisher detail some of its plans going forward. On multiple occasions in the course of the call, THQ president and CEO Brian Farrell spoke about developing for the Nintendo Wii, touching on a number of topics including THQ's first reactions to its Wii games.

"We showed in a press event recently a SpongeBob game using the Nintendo Wii and Wii controller," Farrell said, "and standing there watching very jaded game journalists hoot and holler on a SpongeBob game was actually quite relieving. One of the things we like about that platform is the development costs...on the Wii are nowhere near what they are on the PS3 and Xbox 360. That's something that's quite encouraging. As you probably know, our portfolio maps very, very well to what we think the Wii demographic is going to be."

Currently the publisher has announced Wii games based on the Nickelodeon shows SpongeBob SquarePants and Avatar: The Last Airbender, as well as one for Pixar Animation Studios' upcoming film Cars.

Farrell also talked about developing for the Wii as opposed to the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, noting that it was far less expensive making games for Nintendo's console. Farrell prefaced his comments by noting that he wasn't "a development professional," but he said the development environment for the Wii was similar to the GameCube's.

"[The Wii] wasn't a whole new programming environment," Farrell said. "So we had a lot of tools and tech that work in that environment. So those costs--and again, I hate these broad generalizations--but they could be as little as a third of the high-end next-gen titles... Maybe the range is a quarter to a half."

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