NEWS - Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Viva Piñata Developer Waiting For Proven Success

Viva Piñata developer Rare has told it’s reluctant to develop downloadable content for Xbox 360 until the online service reveals proven results. Although the developer has released some content for previous titles, and has supported the release of Viva Piñata in the US with a modest amount of material, the studio is unsure of committing manpower to developing new material for its projects. "We’ve got plenty of ideas for what we can do with downloadable content because Piñata is such a unique game," said Gregg Mayles, lead designer at Rare. "But the jury is still out." "It’s almost pointless doing a huge amount of work at this point because if it’s not going to be successful you may as well put that effort into making a new game," he added. Although Rare supported launch title Kameo: Elements of Power with new material, production director Simon Farmer doesn’t feel the uptake of content was any indication of the potential market. "There was a reasonable take-up on the free content, but the rest of it was reasonably limited," commented Farmer. "That was probably because the initial purchases of the 360 were the hardcore fans who perhaps wouldn’t have been drawn to Kameo, so were less likely to download that premium content." "For Rare that wasn’t a good way of gauging the market, as far as I’m concerned," he added. "From our perspective it’s all relatively new to us because we’ve always been cartridge based. We don’t know what the best possible model is for us." However, the team does still see the potential of Xbox Live and the push for downloadable content, with Viva Piñata offering interaction between players over the service. "That vision of sending Piñata to each other was around before Xbox Live even existed. That’s why [Viva Piñata] began life on a handheld PDA devise because we wanted one machine that could communicate with another," revealed Mayles. Farmer added that the content Rare would like to create would have to be value for money from the consumers perspective, and he’s willing to observe other developers to see which methods yield the best results. "There’s no way we’re going to be in a position where we feel like we’re ripping the consumer off. We’ll have to look at it, and how it pans out with the other games on 360," he said. Microsoft, which bought Rare back in 2002 for US $375 million, sees downloadable content as key to extending a games’ shelf life, and pushes the concept as a crucial component of the Xbox 360 experience.


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