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Shovelware: A cause and effect

Candace Savino

Wii owners certainly can't complain about the number of third-party games available for the console. As MTV's Stephen Totilo puts it, where there was once a game drought for Nintendo systems (specifically in the N64 and GameCube eras), there's now a flood.

What Wii owners can complain about, however, is that a lot of these Wii games are nothing but shovelware. But, how do these games end up on the popular console? And, is it even ultimately a bad thing that they do?

Totilo recently delved into these questions, talking to Destineer's CEO Paul Rinde. You might remember Destineer as the company that published John Deere: Harvest in the Heartland, as well as from today's earlier announcement about an Iron Chef video game. What you might not have noticed, though, is that a division of Destineer known as Bold Games was responsible for all six of the $20 Wii games released this week in North America.

When it comes to how and why this happened, it's a case of simple economics. Rinde was in Europe when he found out that Data Design Interactive was looking for a company to publish its games in America, a role that Destineer eventually filled. Rinde garnered interest for these games from retailers, and sure enough, six DDI games ended up on the shelf for the week of 12/31.

Because Wiis have been selling like hotcakes and it's still early in the console's life cycle, retailers like to have a large selection of Wii games available for their customers. As Rinde puts it, "There has not been a Wii title we've offered them that they've not agreed to support so far."

While it's hard to argue with his logic from a business standpoint, as gamers, we tend have different priorities. These priorities don't involve making money from our games, but rather, playing and enjoying them. We can't say for a fact that all the Destineer games released for the Wii this week were absolute crap, but considering that DDI is the same company that developed Ninjabread Man, we don't have high hopes. Even if games like these are selling to the public, low-quality games only create consumer distrust for third parties, ultimately hurting sales for the good games out there.

But, who's to blame for games like these? Is it the consumers who are lazy and uninformed, the retailers who agree to put them on the shelves, or the publishers who fund this shovelware in the first place? Or, maybe we should be asking instead who these games end up hurting. In a worst-case scenario, that would be the third-party publishers who create quality games that consumers pass over because of the third-party stigma. This is bad because it, in turn, affects you, the gamer craving for these types of games to be made.

So, what is the point that we're getting at? It's simple enough: put the shovel down, publishers. We know that won't make it stop, but all the same, we felt it needed to be said.

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