Pretty soon the Wii's online store won't be just for Virtual Console games and Opera. Nintendo just announced WiiWare, a Wii software creation service for indie developers. Smaller game companies will be able to use WiiWare to produce downloadable games to distribute and sell over Nintendo's Wii Shop Channel.
Nintendo's move has shades of Microsoft's XNA Studio Express initiative, in which the Xbox community can create games and potentially make them available for play on the Xbox 360 or on Windows machines.
This is more than welcome news for Wii owners, who have been experiencing a bit of a quality-game drought in the last few months. Besides Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition and Pokemon Battle Revolution, summer has brought precious few high-profile Wii games for Nintendo fans. Just like the Xbox 360's Live Marketplace and its downloadable content helped 360 owners get through its initial dearth of quality titles, WiiWare will hopefully give Wii owners a similar break from the doldrums. Virtual Console has helped a great deal, giving nostalgic Nintendo fanboys plenty of classic games, but new titles have been sorely lacking.
Unfortunately, Nintendo says that WiiWare won't start releasing new games until early 2008. Since the next major Wii title is Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, slated for release this August, Wii gamers still have a few months to wait before getting anything big.