Nintendo invites browser and iOS developers to Wii U with Nintendo Web Framework

Nintendo Web Framework

Heading into GDC 2013, Nintendo and the Wii U were not exactly on the minds of developers. In fact, Nintendo’s home console seemed like it couldn’t be less relevant to developers working on the games that will come out over the next three to four years. Just 5 percent of attendees are working on Wii U titles at the moment, according to data compiled by GDC’s host. For all of its many blunders, though, Nintendo deserves credit where it’s due. The company is at least trying to redefine itself in the modern game market. The newly revealed Nintendo Web Framework, a bonafide platform for developing browser games, shows that Nintendo is finally thinking outside the console box.

As stated here on Nintendo’s GDC 2013 homepage, the Web Framework for Wii U is a suite of web development tools that use CSS, JavaScript, and the ever-growing HTML5 language. The idea is that Web developers can bring apps, whether browser-based or otherwise, seamlessly to the Wii U. Applications built using Nintendo Web Framework can implement controls on both Wii remotes and the GamePad, so simulating a mouse interface or even a keyboard is relatively easy. The tools work for both building new apps as well as porting existing ones from, say, Apple’s iPhone. Intel is even doing conversions of iOS Xcode from developers looking to get their wares up and running Nintendo’s framework.

Nintendo’s presentation focused on apps specifically but emphasized that Web Framework is ready made for games as well.

Back in September, before the Wii U’s launch details were even revealed, the company announced that it was working harder to accommodate independent game developers on Wii U, and not just by opening up their publishing policies. The announcement that Unity Technologies was building a version of its popular engine for Wii U meant that a number of independent studios working on anticipated games could realistically brings their wares to the console. InXile Entertainment’s Wasteland 2, for example, could come to the console.

While Sony’s making waves at GDC 2013 by promoting the PlayStation 4 as the indie developer’s console of choice, the typically conservative and often anachronistic Nintendo is demonstrating a willingness to change. Unless Nintendo actively promotes apps and games built using the Web Framework, though, indie games on Wii U could be just the same failures as with WiiWare on the Wii.