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Nintendo: We Need To Do A Better Job Of Attracting Indies To The eShop

Posted by Damien McFerran

"We've learned a lot of lessons over the past five or six years"

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.

[via polygon.com]

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User Comments (38)

ScorpionMG

#1

ScorpionMG said:

The More indie Games The Better! I Want To Get so many but theres also so many nintendo games coming out too..... lol
Btw First! :D

Kirk

#2

Kirk said:

@Nintendo

You also need to do a better job of attracting big third party developers and AAA titles to the console.

HP_3

#3

HP_3 said:

I think Nintendo is doing good with getting indie support on their e-shops. It's retail third-party support that's a problem.

Peach64

#4

Peach64 said:

I'm glad they realise this and want to improve instead of thinking they're already doing great. From reading a lot of the comments on here people seem to be under the impression the the Wii U is some kind of Haven for indie devs, when most of the really great indie devs aren't working on it at all.

There's been indie games on 360 and PS3 that can genuinely be considered good enough for GOTY lists alongside AAA titles. Games like Brothers, Hotline Miami, Fez, Journey, Bastion, Limbo, Flower and Braid. With the exception of the ThatGameCompany titles, these come out on everything. XBLA, PSN, Steam for Mac and Windows, IOS and Android. If they're not wanting to put their games on the eShop it suggests something isn't right.

AG_Systems

#5

AG_Systems said:

Hopefully the WiiU can survive with Nintendo's output and strong indie support on eshop. Third party output next year looks sketchy at best. The eshop, for me anyway, will be vital for the console going forward.

Lots to look forward to.

RedRocBoy

#6

RedRocBoy said:

They need to throw some money @ Ubisoft,Capcom,SquareEnix and Activision. They have the money to do so. I'm definitely supporting all the 3rd parties games coming this year as well as the 1st party. Really hate this crap these other big publishers are doing to the Wii U. It's like everybody is following EA's trail not even putting the effort or imagination into making games for the console. Really hope they buy Platinum Games and Atlus.

datamonkey

#7

datamonkey said:

It's good these strides are being made now but Nintendo's prehistoric policies before-hand have made it harder as perceptions are incorrect among the indie scene.

Nintendo need to learn to communicate better as the same issue applies with consumers and the Wii U...

FineLerv

#8

FineLerv said:

@Peach64 "There's been indie games on 360 and PS3 that can genuinely be considered good enough for GOTY lists alongside AAA titles. Games like Brothers, Hotline Miami, Fez, Journey, Bastion, Limbo, Flower and Braid. "

As an avid Indie supporter I've played most of the games you've listed and in my opinion there are already a few WiiU Indie games that are in the same calibre.

ajcismo

#9

ajcismo said:

I'm mildly surprised by how candid he is regarding Ninty's treatment of the indie dev in the past and how they've been trying to change that.

Captain_Toad

#11

Captain_Toad said:

I'm seeing so many indie titles as of late it's making me sick to my kirby stomach... Now there going to be making improvements to there already existing formula?!
Now I won't be able to eat properly.
Curse you Dan Alderman.

DualWielding

#12

DualWielding said:

They are still the only of the big three that has censored an indie title because of religious content

unrandomsam

#13

unrandomsam said:

@FineLerv I don't think there are any Unity games that are high enough in basic quality for them to justify the massively inflated prices that the eshop has. All the really good ones are XNA or custom none of them are Unity that I know of.

unrandomsam

#14

unrandomsam said:

@Peach64 Those are all XNA games as far as I know. (Much better than Unity ones). Thing is they all use monogame which can target the rest of the platforms. In a few cases though any of the none Microsoft ports are terrible.

rjejr

#15

rjejr said:

When I read eShop anywhere on this website am I supposed to think Wii U or 2/3DS? (Nintendo needs to do something so I can stoo writing 2/3DS all the time, I would suggest DS family but that wont work either.)

I think 1 problem is the fact that the eShops are so different but share the same name. Can I buy 2/3DS games from the Wii U? Can funds on 1 be spent on the other? Why have a Nintendo NETWORK ID if it doesnt hook up to any network? We used to DL DSi demos directly from the Wii, so there is a precedent for connecting the 2 systems. The 2/3DS has 2 screens, the Wii U has 2 screens - why shouldnt a game be available and playable on both.

And for those who argue - you cant play 3DS games on the Wii U b/c of no 3D onthe tv, see 2DS.

Yes, Nintendo needs to do a lot of repair work with indie developer relationships, but their eShop(s) situation needs work as well.

unrandomsam

#18

unrandomsam said:

@Fusion14 Ocarina of Time - Japan had religious symbolism in it. It destroys the original vision if stuff is censored.

(Some quite important things like Edgar being an Alcoholic in FF6 have been spoilt by Nintendo of America for no good reason).

unrandomsam

#19

unrandomsam said:

The NES bionic commando had you fighting against the Nazi's.

Don't see what is gained by censorship. (It makes things more thought provoking).

(The Binding of Issac is not very good so I am not bothered about that however.)

Shambo

#20

Shambo said:

@RedRocBoy EA really dealt some low blows. Imagine all third parties expecting all hardware producers to first come out with games to sell their system. Making games is their job, and Nintendo has the best first party games, but also the hardware that seems the most fun developing for... If I could make my imagined games reality... It 'd be on Nintendo. Sadly, I'm creative and have plenty of imagination and ideas, but can't turn them into actual games.

LeVideoGamer

#22

LeVideoGamer said:

Sure hope they reply to my registration soon. Out of all the seventh and eighth generation consoles, I feel that the game I'm creating would make the most sense on the Wii U.

Cohort

#23

Cohort said:

"We've learned a lot of lessons over the past five or six years"

I should certainly hope so!

rudyseidl

#24

rudyseidl said:

"Do you think Nintendo is doing enough to make its consoles indie-friendly?"
No, not really. It needs to be more indie-friendly.

odd69

#25

odd69 said:

Well guys i have a OUYA and it lets users like us make games for it, its completely open source, if you want really indie stuff, thats the machine to go to. Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo wouldnt let that happen probably for a good reason. But if you want to talk about support for indie people the OUYA does that the best. Its a shame that no one is buying it up, I've played some user made stuff that's absolutely amazing (oh and some big turds too there is plenty). Compared to all the companys I honestly dont think there is enough support on the WiiU, just my opinion

Ren

#27

Ren said:

learned a lot of lessons? So then... what happened to the lessons?
They turned into a console that strives for more downloadable purchases but offers no internal storage? That offers full retails games downloadable at forever exorbitant prices, no promotional points cards with console purchases? Slim marketing only for the paltry library of 1st party games? A continued disregard for online play and features in 1st party games? A profile linked to a console? an arrogant marketing scheme that amounts to internet videos aimed at existing 'core gamers' while still only promoting toys aimed at 'casuals' that have long since forgotten the platform if they ever heard of it in the first place. (see: WiifitU, Nintendoland, game/wario). a launch without social media integration beyond the internal kiddie-craigslist that is Miiverse as a bone people who want real online features without actually looking at how the real world communicates today.

great. So basically it means if there are any indie devs left out there that happened to be Nintendo fans as kids and are excited to add lots of work to get their already fine game shoehorned to work on a WiiU with it's little install base than they'll no longer have to sell over 6000 units to see a few dollars return.

Great, so if lessons were learned, do us a favor and take the next step. Fire the fossils at the top and grab... anyone off the street to tell you what's going on in the world so you can make this a viable platform.

Yasume

#28

Yasume said:

They are on the right track, but all Nintendo stores are still laughable bad compared to Steam or the Apple store.

Sceptic

#29

Sceptic said:

Indies are the only ones that can supply a moderately steady stream of play-worthy content for WiiU.

Nintendo should actively push for every DoubleFine et al. Game to be ported over and offer financial guaratees for the best games. Less risk for the indies than porting out into the blue, less risk to nintendo than developing completely on their own.

armoredghor

#30

armoredghor said:

@Ren while this is entirely off topic, let's address the situation:
They turned into a console that strives for more downloadable purchases but offers no internal storage?
$50 gets you half a terabyte, $70 for a terabyte, hardly losing money.
That offers full retails games downloadable at forever exorbitant prices, no promotional points cards with console purchases?
It hasn't been a year, prices have already dropped, $40 games on 3ds are in some cases at $5 now. The download system now get's you 10% back for downloading retail
Slim marketing only for the paltry library of 1st party games?
Other developers abandoned ship. Besides we've given promotion for third parties and Nintendo directs devoted exclusively for third party games. They're promoting the major titles still.
A continued disregard for online play and features in 1st party games?
NSMBU is integrated with miiverse beyond that of the basic social networking. We have online multiplayer as well.
A profile linked to a console?
again, no idea what this has to do with indie interest but they are working on a linked account system.
an arrogant marketing scheme that amounts to internet videos aimed at existing 'core gamers' while still only promoting toys aimed at 'casuals' that have long since forgotten the platform if they ever heard of it in the first place. (see: WiifitU, Nintendoland, game/wario).
Most media is seen online now, see revision 3.I have yet to see Wii fit U Nintendoland or Game & Wario promoted past release.
a launch without social media integration beyond the internal kiddie-craigslist that is Miiverse as a bone people who want real online features without actually looking at how the real world communicates today.
How the real world communicates, such as: instant messaging, facebooking, skyping, phone calls and regular talking. Besides the last two which are available to most anyone, first 3 are supported. Besides that, I'm not sure how you can determine how mature a form of communication is.
Back to the topic at hand
@everyoneelse
Speaking as someone who has been to the last few GDCs in California, this last year they focused entirely on getting third party support, showing tools and informing the public on their policies. I think they're on the right track with developing tools which can even convert iOS apps into wiiU apps. I'm unsure how they can make it easier on the strict programming side; that being said, they still could work on their communication.

unrandomsam

#31

unrandomsam said:

@Gregor The Allah chanting bit in the Fire Temple. (I don't think artistic works should be changed the vision is the vision - I think the Earthbound guy thinks the same thing from his interview).

jayclayx

#33

jayclayx said:

Nintendo along this year failed attracting big companies to make exclisives on wii U, well its time to look at the indie industry, but here is the problem, many people didnt buy the console for indie games...

RedRocBoy

#34

RedRocBoy said:

@Shambo Exactly. If I had a gaming company I would most definitely be Wii U exclusive. Really show the rest of the gaming world what the Wii U can do. Nobody has even attempted to tap into it's full potential, besides Nintendo with Mario Kart and X. Really hope this stuff with Capcom is something amazing. Only a year into it's life and people are saying Nintendo should go 3rd party. CRAZY!!!!

2steve

#35

2steve said:

Its so funny how the more Nintendo reaches out & goes to lengths to really improve, the more negative towards Nintendo get. Say what you want about the Wii U, but I feel it is really turning over the tide in the same way that the 3DS turned around as well, and is now considered the best mobile platform by many.

FineLerv

#36

FineLerv said:

@Yasume "They are on the right track, but all Nintendo stores are still laughable bad compared to Steam or the Apple store."
I find the same to be true of all console stores, with Playstation Plus being the only thing that gives me the same sense of value that I get from Steam.

Shambo

#37

Shambo said:

@RedRocBoy They've been saying that for ages, forgetting that Nintendo rules over portables, has amazing titles with incredible sales, and keeps expanding while Sony closed down some headquarters building and studios. Some so-called analysts and critics, and fanboys of other companies just WANT to see them fail for some reason, while obviously no one would win in such a situation. True, they'll get some of the greatest titles ever on their system, but didn't they also claim to hate those 'kiddy games'?

JimLad

#38

JimLad said:

They could do an unregulated version of the e-shop sort of like Xbox's Indie Store.
Sure there's a lot of crap on there but you do find some absolute gems from time to time. 3000+ games and counting, all demoable. You could make a great $1 game based on any one of the WiiU's added features.

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