News Article

Nicalis: We'd Like To Support Europe, But Nintendo Doesn't Make The Process Easy

Posted by Damien McFerran

Tyrone Rodriguez talks about regional differences

Nicalis is the publisher behind eShop classics like Cave Story, Ikachan and NightSky, and the company will be helping Pelikan13 launch the fabulous-looking '90s Arcade Racer on the Wii U later this year.

While most of the firm's titles enjoy widespread release, in the case of Cave Story on the 3DS eShop, Nicalis has only released the game in North America — and there's still no sign of a European version. This has clearly concerned some fans.

Speaking on NeoGAF about '90s Arcade Racer, Nicalis head Tyrone Rodriguez was asked when the racer would be hitting Europe, and replied:

It'd be after an NA release. We'd like to support Europe and I don't like leaving EU players behind. NOE in particular doesn't make the process easy or seamless and because of that the priority level on EU releases is much lower than NA or even JP. I'm not the only Nintendo-supporting developer who feels this way, either.

He certainly isn't — cast your mind back to our recent interview with Renegade Kid's Jools Watsham, who also had a good old moan about the process of getting age ratings for games in Europe and associated PAL regions:

There are multiple age rating companies in Europe and Australia/New Zealand: PEGI, USK, and COB. Each company requires a substantial payment to review your game, an online questionnaire, and a DVD sent to them with gameplay footage for them to review. This may not sound like much, but it is for us when we need to focus on the development of our games and not dancing with the age rating companies. The ESRB have made this much more difficult for us to swallow, due to how easy it is with them in contrast. The European age ratings companies are slow bureaucratic dinosaurs. If we had a mature game on our hands, I would understand more, but I don't think a kid-friendly game like Mutant Mudds, ATV Wild Ride, or Bomb Monkey should not have to jump through so many hoops.

The fact that there are so many different ratings to pass in Europe isn't really Nintendo's fault — Europe is, after all, made up of many different countries, each with their own view on what is acceptable in a video game. However, while the process is clearly more convoluted than in North America — where Watsham says its takes a matter of minutes to get an ESRB rating secured — the fact that there's still a steady stream of new eShop content in Europe could suggest it's perhaps not quite as painful or costly as some are making out.

What are your feelings about this? Should developers just suck up the additional time and effort to get a game rating for Europe, or should Nintendo be finding a way of making the process more streamlined? Tell us with a comment.


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User Comments (78)



RainbowGazelle said:

For a start, Germany could just use the PEGI rating like the rest of Europe. It would save us having to look at their massive age rating sticker on our collector's editions of games.



Artwark said:

I feel sorry for you dudes. After all, All you ever wanted is to play the game you're excited about........



KeeperBvK said:

Suddenly this article talks about how age ratings hinder releases in Europe, going on to state that it isn't really NOE's fault.
I wonder why there is this sudden shift in the article, leading to a bottomline that is far off the actualy news at hand:
Tyrone Rodriguez clearly says that NOE is to blame. He doesn't talk about age ratings or anything not in NOE's hands. So why digging up an old statement about age ratings here?
Apparently, NOE is doing something wrong, or at least its not supporting publishers enough in this regard.



Jazzer94 said:

So I'm getting the vibe that europe will get this 8-12 months after the US or never like Cave Story+.........great.



citizenerased said:

Stupid age ratings screwing up releases over here =/ Why not just 1 age rating in all of Europe?



PALgamer said:

Funny thing is that Pelikan13 is Greek. He wont be able to release his own game in his own country thanks to Nicalis.
And this kids is why regions sucks. Europe's ratings system should unify, but I guess it's a low issue and people in Brussels have other more important things to worry about.

How does Apple get away with rating all those apps?



Albeanz said:

Would have been nice if they'd mentioned this before I plonked the money down on kickstarter.



AyeHaley said:

I'm still waiting on Cave Story...I really really want to play it on my 3DS (or Wii U for that matter).



Kaze_Memaryu said:

@RainbowGazelle If they did, they'd drastically enlarge the PEGI print instead. There are still too many uninformed people here who believe that games make the killer, and gaming as a whole is mostly seen as an expensive hobby - this general opinion goes hand in hand with the hypocrisy of a booming smarphone/tablet market.
Seriously, the treatment of gaming business in germany isn't much more than an insulting joke.

@FullbringIchigo That wouldn't change anything. Games to be released in germany require a USK rating regardless of whether Nintendo is behind it or not. But if you're implying that Nintendo should only release european games in countries with PEGI ratings, I'm all for it!



f00had said:

I blame Nicalis, other publishers don't seem to have issues releasing games in a timely manner in Europe but Nicalis just can't be bothered. I was quite looking forward to 90s Arcade Racer but after hearing Nicalis are publishing it I've given up hope on it ever coming out in Europe.



hiptanaka said:

Still, Nicalis should go the extra mile to support Europe, or they will soon lose any European goodwill. Others manage, and so can they. Of course, this is really just about me and how pissed I will be if 1001 Spikes doesn't come to Europe.



lebad said:

How they've done to bring NightSky or other games they have published in Europe ?????
I think that it is not only NOE or Age Rating : I think that Nicalis have its priority and want to earn money and some games as Cave Story + for 3DS was abandoned



xxAcesHighxx said:

For those of us here in europe who often feel treated as second-class citizens, this situation is both extremely frustrating and somewhat saddening. And while I hear what Tyrone Rodriguez has to say about NoE, I tend to agree with Jools Watsham's view that with multiple rating agencies, getting a game released in EU territories must be an expensive and time-consuming nightmare - particularly for indie outfits such as Renegade Kid.

That being said however, Jools' fabulous Mutant Mudds Deluxe was a Wii U launch title stateside, and what, fifteen months later, it's still yet to make an appearance on EU eShop's. Now, considering that it is available - granted, without the Deluxe bells and whistles - in europe on 3DS, and was only a few months behind the NA release, something doesn't quite add up for me.

I definitely agree that there are significant barriers that make it unnecessarily complicated, long-winded and expensive for talented developers to get their games into the hands european gamers. I also believe that Nintendo of Europe could do much more or help the likes of Renegade Kid and Nicalis. HOWEVER, with so many other indie titles bolstering european eShop digital shelves, for me it is also evident that the above studios need to start taking a long, hard look at themselves too!



WiiLovePeace said:

'90s Arcade Racer 2016 European release: Confirmed.

Nicalis sat on the WiiWare release of La-Mulana for months after it was finished only to cancel it. The developer learned that the release was cancelled via twitter. Enjoy Up! released La-Mulana on WiiWare within 2 months of receiving it & now they've got a kickstarter rolling in the cash on La-Mulana 2. All I've got to say to Nicalis is: feel the burn!!



unrandomsam said:

Steam seems to not bother with the ratings at all. (Or at least if it has one it shows it).

I don't think it is possible the fee is paid for every Android/iOS app either.

Overall I think Nintendo chooses to do this for digital when they don't legally have to. (I think it is needed for physical games but funnily enough e.g - Grainger Games stocks brand new import DS games with the black cases and USA ratings thing.).



LoBo said:

The rating system is ridiculous , so much red tape ,the simple solution should be , Family or Adult written on the box art .



datamonkey said:

@KeeperBvK - That's what I thought.

The first half of the article states that NOE are a nightmare and hold up game releases in the region then the focus is on EU ratings companies.

Clearly there are a number of factors in play here that affect releases in the region....



banacheck said:

This article is a bit confusing, first thay say Nintendo isn't as helpful say as other companies and EU is there last priority then goes onto age rating. Why don't thay just tell the truth and how it is, or just don't work with them. Because it's no secret Nintendo are not that good with 3rd party's, but apparently have got better to work with recently.



Kolzig said:

What a surprise that also 90's Racer will suffer in Europe as Nicalis is involved...

The blaim is not just with the European ratings system, it's a lot to do with Nicalis not actually even trying releasing anything. Even if they complain it is hard to get their games released in Europe, for example Ikachan was released over a year ago in USA and to this day still not in Europe, that is unacceptable.

And don't get me even started on Cave Story, which took almost a year to arrive to European Wiiware and other versions have not been even seen. Also the physical release of Cave Story 3D was like 50 copies in Europe and mostly only in UK.

It is really sad that a European made game will not be released in Europe most likely, since they have Nicalis as publisher.

Nintendo of Europe does share part of the blaim, we all know what a lousy job they have been doing for a long time, no proper presentation in Northern Europe, really shifty Club Nintendo only available in selected countries instead of all of Europe etc...



SanderEvers said:

@unrandomsam Actually PSN, XBOX LIVE (and games for windows) and Steam all apply to the same Rating services as the eShop does. For the fact that it's enforced by European law.

Games on smartdevices (phones, tablets, mediaplayers) aren't yet bound to these laws. I hope they'll never change that, but I fear the worst.



Vhyper1985 said:

Ugh.... Funny how other Indie developers have no trouble getting their games released in Europe & in other regions in a timely manner! I originally wanted to get Mutant Mudds Deluxe on my WiiU but since it's taken so damn long I eventually picked it up off of the U.S. PSN store on PS3 (again though it took a year for it to appear on the U.S. version of PSN too) Nicalis seem to be stuck in the 90's itself where game releases for Europe took over 2 years... I want to play this on WiiU I really do but if it looks like we're not going to get it then again I may be forced to pick it up off of a U.S. PSN store... once again it all comes down to region locking .. fun!



KittenKoder said:

This is 2014 ... we need world wide standards for such products, or at least regions need to get together and decide those standards then make it easy for all the devs to get the ratings. As I pointed out in another thread, this is why Nintendo has to have region locking, if we can't become one world, one species, then things like this will always be a huge problem.



Ristar42 said:

I'd like to play this game, shame it is so difficult for them to release in Europe... If you have a PS3 or 360, I guess there is always the HD version of Daytona USA available, but this looks cool.



DualWielding said:


Age ratings have nothing to do with region locked, that's just the excuse NIntendo likes to give..... You know U.S, Canada, Mexico, and all latin american countries in the NTSC region also have different rating boards......

In fact the main reason this is a problem for digital games is Nintendo's region lock, in the PS3 or 360 you can just change the region of your console and download whatever you want.... You may need to find foreign cash cards if the region you want to buy from does not support international credit cards but that's still easier than with Nintendo because Sony and Microsoft allow retailers to sell cards digitally unlike Nintendo...



PALgamer said:

NL... In the source he states that the main problem isn't the age ratings bureaucracy as your article suggests.

We'll see. I do want players in EU/NZ/AU to play our games, the ratings issues are less of a stopping block for me than inconsistent policies through distributors.

"inconsistent policies through distributors", whatever that means it must involve NoE and only hinders Nicalis for some reason.



JEM2369 said:

I don't understand why this story leads with a negative headline. Other sites are leading this as a good news story. So why the negative vibe from NintendoLife? As it clearly states in the story that the problem is down to the number of companies in Europe that give age ratings, clearly NOE can't be expected to clear that problem up.
Is NintendoLife trying to live upto the Amazon/negative PR story from earlier?



Morph said:

@KeeperBvK maybe because the issue has been raised before by another developer and they specifically stated their problems with ratings boards in pal territories. Of course it is an assumption that nicalis has the same issues, but no other developer has spoken about issues with pal releases that im aware of, so it stands to reason they are talking about the same thing.



andreoni79 said:

"Each age rating companies company requires a substantial payment to review your game, an online questionnaire, and a DVD sent to them with gameplay footage for them to review. This may not sound like much, but it is for us when we need to focus on the development of our games and not dancing with the age rating companies" says the guy from Renegade Kid.
Once the US version is already finished and published, shouldn't they dedicate a few hours to that diabolicus online questionnaire? C'mon...



Blueberry said:

As many people have pointed out, the rating system situation is probably not the only thing that bothers Nicalis about NOE. I seem to remember reading on NintendoLife that NOE requires all games to be translated by authorised (expensive!) translator companies into all the main languages in the PAL zone: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch.
Sony does not have this requirement, but maybe NOE does.

Also PEGI also has an fast online rating system like ESRB, but it seems to be only available for phone game apps; like Android, iOS and Playstation Mobile. NOE should be able to convince PEGI to allow eShop games to be express rated this way, since eShop games are distributed the same way as on fore-mentioned platforms.
Check it out here:

Basically it's the usual "Nintendo, get with the times!" cry. They could really make things easier for third-party developers. Their recent porting of game engines like Unity, MonoGame and HTML5 suggest that they at least have the will to go down this path.



unrandomsam said:

@Blueberry Capcom got away with not translating Ace Attorney at all. All I know is Niaclis makes stuff a total rip off the second they are involved. (And what they did with La Mulana is not acceptable).



Kohaku said:

That's why I like my Vita, no region lock on it. Make that possible on the 3DS also Nintendo and people in Europe can play more games than they can now (Rune factory 4 anyone)?
It is not that hard to ignore the ratingsystem.



Einherjar said:

Blaming NOE for European rating procedures is knda low to be honest.
Sure, especially our german rating system (the USK) is an absolute nightmare, but what does nintendo have to do with this ?



Blueberry said:

@unrandomsam Like I said, I don't know what requirement NOE has. But I guess corporations like Capcom can renegotiate NOE requirements anyway.
And yes, I think Nicalis (or maybe Mr. Rodriguez?) is a very risk-averse company. They don't want to spend too much money on anything. Hardly any of their games are developed in-house from the ground-up. And they probably consider publishing-related costs unwarranted, perhaps rightly so.
Dropping La-Mulana was probably also a strategic decision since it was ready so late in the Wii-cycle when sales of WiiWare games had experienced a general slump in sales. Still not okay towards the devs though. And with PAL releases being so uncertain it's not exactly like they are treating their fan-base like fan-bases should be treated...



ikki5 said:


Germany probably will keep their own rating system because that is how Germany rolls. They tend to keep a lot to their own, that's why their economy is booming and seems to succeed at...well everything... lol



unrandomsam said:

@ikki5 The reason their economy is good because most of the country was blown to pieces. So when it was rebuilt it was built in a more modern way. Instead of stuff happening slowly it all happened at once. (Japan got a similar boost).



DarkCoolEdge said:

Like many times lately, Germany screws the rest of Europe. But it isn't only their fault, obviously. The "bureaucratic dinosaurs" are everywhere in this continent. It's like the people in charge enjoys wasting the time of everybody else. In Spain this evil reaches ridiculous highs.

Well, at least I've already played 80 hours Bravely Default.



DarkCoolEdge said:

@Samurai_Goroh No, not perish. They need us to buy their products. That's the tricky part, we need to grow but not much.

But it is "funny" to see how we have to have higher vat, higher retirement age and half the minimun legal salary and still "need" many more "adjustments". They (and some others like Netherlands) are seeding hate towards them.



Vriess said:

"The fact that there are so many different ratings to pass in Europe isn't really Nintendo's fault"

True, but it's in Nintendo's business interest that the rating process of new games is quicker so that they can sell more games. So Nintendo needs to get off of its giant corporate behind and lobby Brussels to speed things up.



SecondServing said:

Europe should just do it like North America. Canada uses ESRB, USA uses ESRB, and Mexico uses ESRB. Unify your rating system!



unrandomsam said:

@Vriess For download only stuff they don't have to bother. (Otherwise Steam and Apple/Google would be getting hammered for it).



Vriess said:

Europe uses Pan European Game Information (PEGI), but each country has it's own representatives and concepts about what is considered suitable for each age category differs from country to country. That's because of the different cultures I think.



Vriess said:

If download only stuff wouldn't be subject to the slow rating systems, then why hasn't Cave Story 3D been in the eShop yet while the retail version has been available for two years?



unrandomsam said:

@DarkCoolEdge Germany is less bad than the UK if something is supposed be passed Europe wide by the EU. (I can go to Germany and my passport will be checked once in London. Coming back loads of time is wasted by British border control). The UK is worse and I am from the UK. Germany doesn't ignore the important stuff.



Vriess said:

You are right but if game makers complain about the slow rating validation process, and Nintendo insists on using it, then it's in their interest to have things speed up, and they should lobby for it.



DarkCoolEdge said:

@unrandomsam Yeah, I don't get that stance. It is not skepticism, it goes beyond that and I find it ridiculous. The only way to don't get crushed by huge countries like USA, China and Russia is a united Europe. And the first thing to do is getting a true unified economy.
Our biggest hurdle (but also an important part of what Europe is, a positive one) is the huge diversity of the region. Being the different languages a very important side of it.
Even so, I prefer to leave it before being drain like northern countries pretend. United as equals or yo hell with it.



joshmail81 said:

I'm sorry but this game looks like crap, who cares about seeing this mess in 60fps? Please stop giving us cheap crap. I mean the design looks like it's from a 64 game, not the actual rendering, but the design concept. We need good gameplay AND good visuals, this is 2014 already.



Mario90125 said:

Ask anybody in the UK "Do you have an NES?". The answer? "No." They'll ask you that they have a Master System or a ZX Spectrum instead.



unrandomsam said:

@Kawaii_Neko No they wouldn't have. The NES was much better promoted and games were much more readily available in for example toyshops. (Lots of the Master System was mail order only).

The Master System was better though and about 20% of its output was actually optimised 50hz. (Gun-Nac vs Power Strike 2 is a good comparison of what both can do).



Seren77 said:

I guess this wont be coming to Australia then, shame I was interested in it. Nintendo really needs to work with devs to get things out in all regions.



Polygon95 said:

This is bothersome, I live in the UK, and it is certainly an odd situation when we're getting Atlus games sooner and with more frequency than indie games from small companies who really need the publicity and custom.



WiiLovePeace said:

If a publisher can't publish games to Europe (arguably one third of the gaming populous) then they're doing their job wrong. Pure & simple.



ghosto said:

Who in their right mind would trust a total group of strangers to determine what is okay and not okay for their kids to experience?



Agent721 said:

Europe is over loaded with bureaucracy?!!! I AM SHOCKED!!! Shocked I tell you, SHOCKED!!



Spectator said:

It is very hard to get a games into Europe, very hard, to many hoops to jump through.



plainj said:

Though I have a lot of respect for Nicalis and Tyrone, I just feel that this is a bad excuse. Regardless of the extra hurdles and red tape, some games have come through to EU before NA. I have all of the EU eShop games worth having (as well as some not worth having), how did those devs/publishers manage to get those over the same hurdles? Not saying that his frustration or reasons are invalid, just that we as gamers pay a price at the end of the day that includes the road to get it released, and often due to exchange rates and EU's sometimes ridiculous pricing, we pay more than most for our games. Nicalis/Tyrone - Why wouldn't it be worth it to release Cave Story in EU? I'm sure (don't have the faintest insight though), that it would make sense financially to bite the bullet and tackle the process to get these games to EU.

I have in the meantime though got a PSP and I'm busy playing the free homebrew version of Cave Story (not sure if it's frowned upon, cfw and all, don't care though as I've been waiting for probably 2 years for a portable cave story)... for some reason I still hold out for the 3DS version though, and will happily buy it if it pops up on the EU eShop.

I noticed a while back some guy commenting every time that he'd boycott Nicalis until they release cave story in EU, I wonder if he still does...

Enough already. I want Cave Story, and I'm sure a LOT of EU gamers want it too.



WiiLovePeace said:

@plainj Great points. I've also seen a few people say they're boycotting Nicalis (myself included) for various reasons. Though it's not that hard when they don't release anything here anyway haha.



hogge said:

After reading this article, I became a bit concerned and got in touch with my guy at NOE and it is correct that you have to have your game cleared by the censorers. However, europe doesen't count as a single massive region, you can release your game everywhere except for germany. Also, it seems like the german board is the only one that wants money for their "services", and it's only a matter of 250€.



plainj said:

Come on Nicalis/Tyrone... what do we need to do to get Cave Story and other missing* EU titles??


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