News Article

Survey - 58% of Indie Devs Say Nintendo Difficult to Deal With

Posted by James Newton

Interesting statistics ahead

2D Boy is responsible for World of Goo, one of the best games WiiWare has to offer. The studio's Ron Carmel recently conducted a survey of around 200 independent developers, asking which formats the teams had supported and planned to continue working on in future. Sadly, Nintendo consoles sit right at the bottom.

The survey asked developers what they believe to be the most important factor in choosing a platform to work on, with the most influential being ease of working with the platform holder, just above the platform's install base. As a follow-up, developers were asked to rate their past experiences, and it doesn't make good reading for Nintendo.

21% rated Nintendo as "very easy" to work with, and a further 21% described their experience as "so-so"; 37% called Nintendo "difficult", with 21% going as far as "excruciating". As a point of comparison, Xbox Live Arcade came out worse with just 16% of developers rating their experience as "very easy" or "so-so" and 48% saying it was "excruciating". However, PlayStation Network sits on a satisfaction rating of 62%, with Android Marketplace, Facebook, iOS and Steam all ranking higher.

Of course many independent developers continue to support Nintendo with downloadable games, but we can all agree the company has plenty of improvements to make if Wii U is to become a serious challenger in the digital space.


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User Comments (46)



retro_player_22 said:

I don't care that much about digital games on a Nintendo console anyways so Nintendo not dominating in that market doesn't affect me at all. In fact I don't care too much about digital games on any console at all as I mostly collect and play real physical games the most.



Ryno said:

James is on a roll right now with the articles! Interesting info though I don't really play these downloadable games.



Hardy83 said:

There's a lot of things to learn from XBLA, however it's not a perfect system.
The best thing to do would look at EVERY digital system and take the best parts of all of them. This includes all the behind the scene stuff.



AbuJaffer said:

I actually care about downloadable games for the 3DS eShop. I've moved (temporarily) and, unlike physical games that take weeks to ship from the US, eShop games come instantaneously and without region lock. In addition, my favorite genres are RPG and platformer, and we have 2 2D platformers already announced for the eShop. Since full-fledged 3DS retail releases aren't an ideal place for retro 2D platformers, the eShop fills that void; I'm perfectly OK with that.



grumblebuzzz said:

Nintendo is difficult to work with because of their file size restrictions and all the weirdo secrecy/region-locking/other archaic and/or inconceivable policies. If they would loosen up a little bit, I'm sure developers would flock to them in droves.



Sean_Aaron said:

I do enjoy a nice downloadable title, but the quality needs to be there. I expect part of the reason Nintendo is having problems now is a lot of devs have moved on to HD platforms which is pretty much everything but the Nintendo platforms. Hopefully the Wii U will turn that around.

If, like me, you were looking for a new quality download for the Wii may I humbly suggest escapeVektor Chapter 1? As long as Nintendo can still get stuff like that they have a decent foundation to build upon.



RenegadeJools said:

Over the past 18 years I have worked on the development of over 30 games for Nintendo, Sony, Sega, and Microsoft consoles while at Iguana, Acclaim, and Renegade Kid. Each console manufacturer has changed a lot over that time. Some have improved their relations with developers. Some, not so much. Renegade Kid was not included in this survey, but that's not going to stop me from throwing my opinion out there.

Based on my experience, both past and present, I would rate our experience with Nintendo "Very Easy".

Just saying.



citizenerased said:

Can't believe XBLA scores the lowest yet has the most awesome/highest quantity interesting games (out of the consoles anyway).



TheChosen said:

Wiiware getting low scores = Meh. I'd expect that. As much as I like some of the games there, it could use a heavy revamp
XBLA getting worse scores = I've never used the service before, but Im bit surprised that it seems to turn out worse than Nintendo. Woah.

In any case, Steam is definitely the king on this one. Hail to the King.



Chrono_Cross said:

I can't believe Nintendo did so well. And more people said Nintendo was easier to work with than Sony (in that category)? Woah.



warioswoods said:

Yeah but you know how those "indie" types are. Of course they don't get along with Nintendo; he's the older, established guy who gets all the ladies. >_<



armoredghor said:

These are including the people that just want to make a very cheap app; which is easy on iOS, facebook, & android. Xbox and Nintendo shoot a little higher.



Ren said:

Xbox has the better system from the user stand point just because, as Sean said, they have more content since most 3rd parties have moved on to HD platforms.
It doesn't mean it's easier to deal with them, but they do get more takers since it's just barely relevant to even mess with that limited platform. If they can just step it up a little and get that dang WiiU to market, they'll be ok.
Like 'armoredghor' said, xbox and Nintendo shoot a lot higher than churning out cheap phone apps so it's to be expected that they have more restrictions and quality checks; I expect a lot more from a game I download for Nintendo than a 1 dollar phone app.
No surprises here when you consider those things.



Raylax said:

I'd like to see those results correlated with the developers' budgets, that could see some interesting results.

But tbh, I'm suprised Nintendo got away with just 58%.



Linkuini said:

I don't know how Valve does it. The sales (and freebies!), the multiplayer framework, the continuous (not weekly!) inflow of new downloads, the free updates and extras... with all the ways Steam leaves Nintendo's online marketplace in the dust, I would think they'd be too focused on the consumer experience to maintain such good developer relations, or at least that Steam developers would miss out on a lot of profit. Somehow they've got that covered too?

I sure hope Nintendo can catch up a little with the Wii U. Even if the HD and online features are all present and correct, they must have a bit of a reputation to fight against by now if they still want to attract good third-party support, indie or not.



wanderlustwarrior said:

@LegendofPasta: The install base of computers is obviously a bit bigger, so it's easier to sell games by volume.

The deals make up for themselves, as well. Recently, they had a SEGA sale, where some stuff was over 90% off after bundles. I for one didn't know Shining Force was on the service, let alone did I plan to spend money on it (again). But they had a bundle of 10 genesis games for $1.76, including Shining Force 1, as well as II and another game I'd try. It didn't cost them anything, but I spent money on the bundle, and looked through their list of games to see what else I can wait for a sale on.

There's also the fact that they're willing to try new things, and/or be user friendly, and not keep their heads up their . Having a wishlist is fantastic, game info built into the service is great, I love getting achievements, etc. It only costs an ounce of creativity, but unlike Nintendo (for example, there's no reason the Nintendo Channel couldn't have been rolled into the Wii Shop years ago), they're willing to spend some time as well implementing it.



MasterGraveheart said:

On one hand I'd say it's a sign Nintendo should refine their digital game distribution, but on the other hand, I think indy developers are kind of whiny, wanting EVERYTHING to be like Valve or iTouch. It's kind of selfish of them.



TKOWL said:

This issue is something I hope the Wii U will improve on, even though the 3DS and the larger emphasis on the EShop is a step in the right direction.



Sean_Aaron said:

@MasterGraveheart: can you blame them? Unlike Nintendo software is all they have and if they spend the time to develop they want to get it quickly to market and hopefully have a storefront that adequately displays their wares. The Wii shop does seem to be "fair," but Nintendo could easily do little things to make their online shop more appealing; without doing it for free.

Take a page from Amazon Marketplace and allow developers to have a virtual shop presence beyond the rather bland "Publisher" grouping for browsing. Or as has been suggested many times, have featured titles for sale like they do in iTunes. And clearly allowing developers to create demos and keep them available is also important.

Indie devs may not have big money for marketing, but there's no reason Nintendo cannot provide options for them to feel like they're getting the most from the Wii shop (I don't have experience of the eShop, so I won't comment on that, but I hope it's better than the DS Shop, which is pretty dire). Nintendo can then simply focus on the basic presentation.

I hope Wii U will have more of a Steam or iTunes like desktop interface where the first thing you have when you boot is the latest online offerings. I don't think internet connectivity should be mandatory, but it should be a default set-up option when a new system is unboxed. This would show Nintendo is serious about downloads.



FonistofCruxis said:

The file size limit and ridiculous way they pay the devs are probably significant factors in indie devs displeasure with Nintendo's download services. Although, Nintendo did better on this poll then I though they would and I'm surprised that Nintendo's download services did better than XBLA. Also, I think the way they pay the devs has improved with dsiware and the eshop and I think the size limit is better on the eshop has improved but I'm not sure how much and other improvements are evident in the eshop and I hope they improve their digital download services even more with future eshop updates and the wii U shop.



Slapshot said:

The fact that many developers spend their money to put their games on Nintendo's downloadable services at the risk of getting nothing in return unless it sells moderately well - taking in consideration the abysmal percentage of people who even use their downloadable services - this isn't surprising to me a bit on Nintendo's side of the survey.

What is surprising is the turn-around for Sony and Microsoft. So many have always proclaimed XBLA to be far greater then PSN, but those tides are starting to shift as well. It seems Microsoft 'dominating/demanding' attitude is now starting to push the indie developers away from them, just like the first party AAA developers have left them in the last few years.

Allowing freedom and stability to create at will in a digital marketplace is necessary for the services continued growth, as well as offering great products at a great price point (digital sales/PS+ program) to the consumers. It seems that Sony and Valve are the two who truly understanding this at the moment, and the results are now showing.



Glade said:

Well Nintendo isn't the best when it comes to digital downloads... Umm they're kinda horrible :/ and it seems very difficult to get games on their consoles.. and even more difficult to actually get decent sales compared to that of games sold on the Android Market.. probably due to the price..



killer6370 said:

none of the plattforms are difficult to deal with, the devloper just have to make better games(and use the right format)
and knowlege how to aproach gamers(did we knew Gaijin,nnooo or nicalis before?) the only devlopers i knowed where Sonic team,Hudson soft,hal lab,gamefreak ,Square,enix and nintendo. but they made the right games and made creative publicity and let us know that indies also can make good games



timp29 said:

I am of the opinion that Nintendo's online offerings, while having a few hidden gems, really lacks the content of some of its competitors. Also, with the Wii U around the corner, Nintendo may well be focussing everything they've got on some of the big companies who are working on major titles like Darksiders II etc. This would make a lot of sense for a console launch, while focusing on indie developers would make more sense when no new consoles are on the horizon.

So, lets see this again 1 year post Wii U launch. Either way though, sit up and take notice Nintendo! (Also please have sales like steam and kill region locking)



motang said:

Nintendo really needs to change that. The times are changing and they need to adopt.



Capt_N said:

Well, the WiiU may be the prime focus of Nintendo right now, like #39 timp29 said. Also, the extent of the WiiU's online capabilities is up in the air currently, publicly speaking, anyway.



Monkeh said:

How come people are surprised about XBL? It's always been clear Microsoft has way too many rules for getting a game on there.

I do feel like smacking Nintendo for not even trying to get Indie games on their platforms.



Maggots said:

most indie games are terrible anyway with a few exceptions... but what i always wanted and executed were smaller Nintendo games on Wii Ware... Like a 4 world mario adventure... or like a pikmin or zelda experience... all that's on Wii Ware is crap... and like 5 games from major developers like square enix....



Henmii said:

"As a point of comparison, Xbox Live Arcade came out worse"

Very strange, since xbox live arcade gets much more (new) good games then the Wii shop!



Peznaze said:

About what I'd expect, really. Nintendo has fairly even reviews - YMMV, as they say. Everyone loves Steam, and everyone hates Microsoft.



JimLad said:

I agree. I don't understand how such a well presented infrastructure like XBLA was rated worse than WiiWare, which doesn't provide demos (except on occasion) doesn't allow easy feedback, doesn't really support downloadable content, has a 40mb limit and a dire online install base.

The fact that Android, iOS and Facebook were all rated higher makes me wonder how many minigame developers were in the survey. They are a dime a dozen these days, but the future of digital distribution lies with those who are willing to go a bit further and make full sized games for the services.

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