This week brought a major landmark for both Nintendo and Humble Bundle with the aptly named Humble Nindie Bundle. It's the first time that console downloads have featured in the pay-what-you-want platform, allowing gamers in the Americas to pick up eight separate games (some cross-platform) at a fraction of their normal price. The fact it's a first has also contributed to a region-lock, meaning that gamers in PAL regions are missing out on the promotion.
It's a surprise move, however, and in the first of multiple interviews with those involved we caught up with Nintendo of America's Senior Manager in Marketing and Licensing, Damon Baker. The key detail beyond that lengthy job title is that Baker is effectively the current NoA face for the eShop and its dealings with indie developers, stepping into a role that was notably led by Dan Adelman for a number of years.
We discuss how this surprise deal came together.
At what point was the idea of the Humble Nindie Bundle first explored by Nintendo?
We've actually been in conversations with Humble for years but the stars seemed to align with the teams over the past 6 months.
Was it a challenging decision for Nintendo of America conceptually, considering the pay-what-you-want structure of Humble Bundle and its nature of bundling multiple games together?
Ultimately, our goal is to give as much visibility to the Nindie developers as possible, and working with Humble opened the door to increasing that awareness for the great content available on Nintendo eShop.
The concept decision wasn't challenging at all as we're big fans of the Humble organization and what they stand for. We saw it as a great opportunity to combine our audiences in a way that everyone would benefit. Ultimately, our goal is to give as much visibility to the Nindie developers as possible, and working with Humble opened the door to increasing that awareness for the great content available on Nintendo eShop. The challenge was more on the execution, since this was unmarked territory for consoles – we had to sort out a lot of logistics to handle code delivery and financials in order to stay true to those Humble Bundle core messages of pay-what-you-want and bundling.
When working with Humble Bundle was it a smooth process, or were there tricky moments in integrating eShop codes for both Wii U and 3DS within a deal?
It's been an incredibly smooth process, and Humble have been really helpful in providing insight and recommendations based on their expertise in working with developers and charity organizations over the years.
How did you choose the games to be included - did Nintendo of America approach the developers and publishers involved, and what was their initial reaction?
We wanted to make sure that we had a nice representation of Nindies across the board and an even spread of content and genres for both Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. We feel that these are some of the best games available on Nintendo eShop and should be in every person's library. Initial reactions from our partners were generally of surprise that we were actually doing this! But after that, most were very enthusiastic to participate and they all had their fair share of questions on how it would roll out.
What was the criteria to choose Code.org as the charity linked with this bundle?
Code.org is a fantastic nonprofit and one close to our hearts. Making sure that computer science and programming education are available in all schools is a great initiative. Who knows where our next Nindie might come from?
While the eShop stores run consistent sales and promotions, how significant do you feel this Humble Bundle is in the evolution of the eShop, and indeed the Humble Bundle platform?
What we love about Humble Bundle is that it increases the exposure for all these great developers and games to a brand new audience. Our digital-only games are found in the Nintendo eShop and are showcased and presented to consumers in a different way than physical games would be in retail stores. So it's important that we continue to drive awareness and discoverability outside of the shop as well as within.
It's important that we continue to drive awareness and discoverability outside of the shop as well as within.
How would you assess its impact so far in terms of sales and money raised?
We've been blown away by the response from the community! As I've mentioned, the main goal of the program was to increase awareness for these Nindies by reaching a new audience, all while supporting a great cause. We're really "humbled" by the outpouring of support and excited to take learnings from this to see what else we can do in the future.
Were there any particular issues that prevented this from rolling out in other regions, too?
Without going into the boring details there were challenges and issues, but that's because this is uncharted territory. Wii U and Nintendo 3DS are the first consoles/handhelds to collaborate with Humble and we're extremely proud to have been able to create a bundle that appeals to a wide audience across both platforms. There was a lot to sort out having never done this in the past, but we intend to apply those learnings to future opportunities. In the end, we hope that fans can look at the offering for what it is – an amazing deal for amazing content, all for an amazing cause.
Are there plans or ambitions to run future bundles, and if so are you confident that they'll be global in the future?
We're absolutely interested in future collaboration opportunities with Humble…but we have nothing to announce right now.
We'd like to thank Damon Baker for his time.