If there's one thing you learn from speaking to indie developers working on the Wii U and 3DS eShops, it's that Nintendo is a much easier company to work with these days when you're a small-scale studio. The nightmare days of WiiWare are long gone, but that doesn't mean that the company is resting on its laurels.
Speaking to Polygon, Nintendo of America's Dan Adelman and Damon Baker admitted that there is still a lot of work to do with regards to attracting indies to Nintendo platforms.
Adelman — who is arguably Nintendo's indie champion — said:
We need to do a better job of getting our message out. We've learned a lot of lessons over the past five or six years, from the beginning of WiiWare, [when] we had some policies that really made it difficult for game developers to release games on our system.
Not a day goes by when I'm talking to a developer who might say, 'Yeah, I'd love to release a game on a Nintendo system, but I work from home and I know you guys have this requirement to work out of an office.' I'll say, 'Actually, we got rid of that.' And that will be a big surprise," he said. "Or they're working on a game in Unity, and say 'I hear on consoles to release a Unity game ... costs tens of thousand of dollars.' Actually, we have a deal with Unity so we've covered the licensing fees for the entire platform. So it's free for you to release on our system.
And we're not done with this initiative by any stretch. We really want to make it as close to frictionless as possible, [with a] really low cost of entry and a really smooth process. We've still got a ways to go. We're a large company with a large bureaucracy...
Baker admits that the eShop needs improvement — a sentiment that anyone who has used an iOS or Android device will agree with:
The Nintendo eShop is always a work in progress. We're going to have off-device availability [through the web, phone and smart devices] for eShop sales at some point. All of us feel that discoverability is going to be increasingly more important. We've got a nice flow of content, but as we grow the amount of content, it's going to be important that we find that holy grail solution of how we make discoverability a priority...
It's encouraging to see that Nintendo isn't comfortable will making the minimum amount of effort when it comes to courting indie developers. The Wii U and 3DS both have some amazing indie games coming out in the next 12 months or so, and hopefully the company can continue to attract fresh and exciting talent — as well as make the eShop on each console a more pleasurable place to explore.
Do you think Nintendo is doing enough to make its consoles indie-friendly? Let us know by leaving a comment.