Nintendo’s Digital Download Woes: Nicalis cancels La-Mulana over toxic WiiWare market

Given the hoopla surrounding Nintendo’s new digital download initiatives on Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS, it’s understandable that the Wii’s existing digital download service has been all but forgotten. Nintendo has learned from its past mistakes and it wants to do well in the ever-evolving digital marketplace.

Let it not be forgotten that the company made big, nasty mistakes with the Wii’s digital services though. The grossly overpriced Virtual Console games; the impenetrable WiiWare shop interface; the near non-existent promotion of original downloadable titles; the lack of adequate internal storage for downloadable titles in the Wii itself; that machine’s downloadable content support was atrocious. It’s no wonder that publisher Nicalis is cancelling planned WiiWare titles like La-Mulana.

Announced back in 2009, the WiiWare version of PC cult hit La-Mulana was actually released in Japan in 2011, but the U.S. and European releases of the title have now been cancelled. Publisher Nicalis said that the game was cancelled because there simply wasn’t enough of an audience left to support the release. Speaking with GoNintendo, Nicalis founder Tyrone Rodriguez said, “The WiiWare market has a fraction of the players from 2008. The window for release and success of software on the platform ended in 2009 and took a very steep decline. Players have moved onto other digital platforms.”

Had La-Mulana creators NIGORO not spent time developing new Wii-specific content for the game things might have been different. “La-Mulana was originally developed without DLC in mind and, I think being their first console project, that NIGORO got a bit ahead of themselves and spent two years agonizing on getting the DLC sort of working for Japan. Unfortunately, it never passed Nintendo’s submission process in the U.S. or E.U. with DLC in place. With the Wii U in the not too distant future and WiiWare sales almost non-existant, I had to make a call today.”

Digital Trends reached out to Nicalis on Tuesday to discuss La-Mulana’s possible future on the 3DS or Wii U, but we’ve yet to receive a response.

The company’s plight demonstrates just how vital Nintendo’s new digital distribution plans are for the company’s future success. That the Wii’s digital marketplace hasn’t been viable for nearly three years, that the company made no effort to evolve the platform for competition with the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or mobile devices, shines a glaring light on how Nintendo has plummeted to its unprecedented financial lows.

Fingers crossed that Nicalis finds a new home for this edition of La-Mulana on Wii U.

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