News Article

Indie Developers Outline Nintendo's Approach Compared to Sony and Microsoft

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"Nintendo is just doing the right thing without making a big fuss about it"

There's been a great deal of praise in recent times, from small developers, around Nintendo's efforts to support them in bringing content to the eShop platforms, particularly on Wii U. On the console battleground of the next few years, especially as hardware manufacturers seek to offer both premium retail content and smaller, less expensive games, the role of independent developers — and their willingness to explore creative ideas so rare in full-blown retail projects — is becoming increasingly relevant.

Of course, with Android and iOS on the scene, the power has shifted away from gatekeepers such as Nintendo to these smaller companies, as they can self-publish on a variety of platforms without the need to pay hefty fees for console licenses. As a result Nintendo's policies, as well as those of Sony in particular, have shifted a great deal recently, with Microsoft generally considered to be lagging behind. While we know from our own interviews and those reported from elsewhere that Nintendo is increasingly welcoming and supportive towards small studios, how does it compare directly to its two main rivals?

Speaking to Edge, Ragnar Tørnquist of Red Thread Games — which is interested in bringing Dreamfall Chapters to Wii U — spoke positively about Nintendo's policy, admitting it was playing catch-up after the more closed environments of past systems.

I don’t think Nintendo gets enough credit for their indie efforts. There are a lot of intriguing indie titles on the eShop, and they’re obviously passionate about increasing the variety of range of games available. They’re still lagging a bit behind Sony in terms of indie support, but I think that has more to do with how closed their hardware has been in the past, rather than a lack of willingness and engagement from their developer relations.

As for Microsoft and the Xbox One, I’ve been outspoken about how difficult it’s been to get a foothold there – it’s definitely been easier for us to communicate with Nintendo and get support – but hopefully that will change soon.

Despite the slow start, I do believe that both the 3DS and the Wii U have a healthy and exciting indie future ahead of them, and we’d love to be a part of that.

Phil Tossell of NyamNyam, who we spoke to recently, is dismissive of Microsoft's stance — "do they even have an approach to indies?" — and believes that Nintendo's approach is different to Sony's, in that it's focused on "quality over quantity" and is "looking for quality, experienced developers that they can maybe form a longer term relationship with"; he expressed a view that the rush of indies to Sony "does come with the danger that the indie space might become very crowded on Sony platforms", with a comparison made to the App store.

Finally, Lau Korsgaard from KnapNok Games — which is bringing Spin the Bottle: Bumpie's Party to the Wii U eShop, summarised the general opinion nicely.

One of Sony’s core messages at E3 was their support of indies and at the same convention Microsoft got a lot of criticism for not featuring independent game developers as prominently. Meanwhile Nintendo is just doing the right thing without making a big fuss about it. They work on establishing genuine human relationships with the indies. They are working on making their tools easily accessible and free and provide equipment for you and are super encouraging in general.

So there are more positive vibes from self-publishing developers, with Rhodri Broadbent of Dakko Dakko also saying that Nintendo doesn't "shout very loudly" about its welcoming approach to these studios. Perhaps if it is finding a good balance of focusing on quality while being open and supportive, Nintendo should make more noise so that gamers can see the potential of the eShop platforms. Let us know your thoughts below.


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User Comments (19)



SpinelessOyster said:

That's good to hear. There's some pretty cool games on the eshop now, and I hope plenty more to come. The more the merrier as they say.



dumedum said:

There's a subtle lesson here for Nintendo - more PR. About everything. Publish what you're doing. You're SUPER friendly to Indies - let the whole world know about it.



Shambo said:

It's more an overall thing. Nintendo does the right thing and people don't want to hear it. True, I'd like to see some changes (region lock maybe, but it has pro's and con's) but it's the one and only gaming-only focused company out their. They create possibilities not available elsewhere -or it gets really expensive, and next to unsupported-, and make truely FUN games. For kids, mostly, yes. But that's also the right thing, it's just parenting that's gone completely wrong...



Sceptic said:

The indies will save this console. Thank God Nintendo is making it as easy for them as possible.



Yorumi said:

@dumedum I think they have been letting the world know, it just mostly doesn't want to hear it. The prominently feature trine 2 for launch, and while they didn't dedicate a full section to it at e3 they talked about the indie games. They also have talked about the unity deal and such.

Much like no matter what nintendo releases or does they're "just the kiddy system." People just don't want to hear anything that contradicts their bias.

I love indie games, many of them are so creative and fresh I'm glad nintendo is doing everything they can to do get them.



unrandomsam said:

What options do you have as an indie with Nintendo ? Do you have to use Unity3D ? (Or do the old requirements like having offices etc and spend 20k just to get the dev kit).

The Wii U seems to have quite a few ports but that is not the type of indie stuff I want. (Unless the price is the same across all platforms or the Wii U is the first and best version).

I really want Gunlord on a platform that is not the Dreamcast (Or Neo Geo MVS or AES). (It is annoying connecting it up for me all the time).

Probably get Pier Solar HD not sure about which platform though.

More bothered about traditional console games like those two than the Humble Bundle type indies. (Different scene really they are making old school console games the hard way).



Sanqet said:

i think given the cost of making retail games any original games will likely be e shop games from the indies



DefHalan said:

No matter what people like to complain about Nintendo, "Nintendo where are the indie games?" "Nintendo where is Zelda?" "Nintendo why are you making this 3D Mario when I want this one?" Can't people just let Nintendo do what they do best? Make fantastic games!



banacheck said:

I like what Nintendo are doing with the indie dev's, becoming more open. But i would like to see some of the indie games that are on the PSN on the Wii U. Like Stealth inc: A Clone in the Dark which i got today, Hotline Miami, Guacamelee etc. As thay've only just come out really, and some of these Indie game would be a great fit on the Gamepad. especially if you want lie on your bed or something with the Gamepad, yeah but Nintendo are making the right move.

Consoles are changing, becoming more connected then ever before, once you see it, i mean all of it, how do you look away? PS4.



banacheck said:

Rafie said:@banacheck Guacamelee is Sony's

I actually didn't know that but thanks, it's a good indie i got the new DLC with Stealth Inc today, but i've not played that yet. But both of these are well worth getting Stealth Inc in EU get the DLC free, for two weeks.



sinalefa said:

It may have to do with the Japanese mindset. Take a guy like Miyamoto: a great developer but incredibly humble, unlike people like Molyneux who seems to love all the attention he gets.

So maybe they are supportive of indies but don't want to rub it on anyone's faces. It may not be as effective as a PR strategy, but that is what word of mouth is for.

Besides, I would prefer that they have tons of indie games than just saying "We have tons of indie games". Actions before words, and according to these developers, that is exactly what they are doing.



LztheQuack said:

@Slapshot: That doesn't necessarily mean the process is easy. Also, it seems that Microsoft is simply playing catch up to Sony and Nintendo (irony, huh? )



amak11 said:

@Slapshot Little did you know, MS takes 70% of the earnings from indie devs, not to mention the 100 dollar a year to have a app hub membership to publish games...etc



unrandomsam said:

@amak11 Where did you read that ? (I know for a fact on Windows Phone it is 70% to the dev / 30% to Microsoft same as Apple.) Wikipedia says it is the same for Xbox Live Indie Games. I suppose the Xbox Live Arcade terms are different depending on who you are. (e.g Xbox One Minecraft will probably get almost all of it).



amak11 said:

@unrandomsam As someone who works in through the app hub program. I know what MS takes away with games. Its a pain in the donkey, literally

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