How Retro Studios Achieved Backing from Nintendo
Posted by Trevor Chan
Simple in theory, anything but in practice
Nintendo has a brand image that's as solid as a rock, so what does it take for an independant studio to get backing from the company and the opportunity to develop games based on its IPs for its consoles? Retro Studios president Michael Kelbaugh highlights a few qualities needed to do just that.
During a Gamasutra interview, Kelbaugh spoke about how Retro Studios got to where it's at today and how having a hands-on approach is important in making Nintendo titles:
It's patience, mentorship — a lot of mentorship, a lot of help from our friends at Nintendo. It's investing in the right people. It takes time. There's not a book that I could say, "Read this and you'll know how to make Nintendo games." You learn how to do it by experience, and that's really, experience and mentorship. That's really the only way you do it.
Kelbaugh continued to explain the importance of hiring staff members that share the same mindset going into a project, and how even though Retro Studios isn't short of experience ― having developed Metroid Prime and its sequels on the GameCube and more recently, Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii, there are still things to be learned and changes within the industry to adapt to:
It takes a lot of time and a lot of investment and, again, it's getting the right people. You have to hire people that are motivated by making quality product, not by how many units they sell. So it's really as simple as that, but it's not simple at all. It takes a lot of work. Ten, years, well 12 years, and we've made a lot of progress, but we don't have it down yet. We still have a lot to learn, you know. It changes. As the industry evolves, so do the demands of the developer, so it's not easy, and there are not a lot of developers that really get it.