After stepping into the new world of download gaming back on the Wii with its 'WiiWare' service, Nintendo was well on the way to embracing the medium. In some aspects it was a trailblazer with that first service, though tough entry requirements - combining policy and system limitations with rules such as a 40MB file size restriction - meant that rival platforms arguably gained an edge. With the 3DS and then moreso the Wii U, however, Nintendo's rules softened and the doors were flung open.
Nowhere has this been more apparent than on the Wii U eShop, with the system's support for Unity and even web-based tools - through the Nintendo Web Framework - allowing developers of all stripes to make their mark. The open door policy hasn't been without critics, however, with some decidedly low quality content clogging up the virtual shelves. Nintendo, evidently aware of that, stated in a pre-launch 'Nindie' Direct that curation would be a distinct factor on the Switch.
Nintendo of America's Damon Baker made this clear in the Nindies Showcase broadcast in early March:
Our teams have been working closely with independent publishers and developers to secure a constant flow of innovative content that showcases the fun of playing games. This is the magic of independent developers, their efforts help make Nintendo platforms something special, and we feel privileged to partner with them. It's our mission to prioritise unique and original experiences and curate an amazing line-up of content that will feel perfectly at home on Nintendo Switch.
In some respects that's a commendable stance, and we've seen it in action during the Nintendo Switch launch - though there have been a few release weeks crying out for additional titles, we've seen a batch of interesting games arrive on the Switch eShop so far.
Not long ago, however, we were contacted by and followed up with multiple respected and established 'Nindie' developers unhappy with aspects of Nintendo's approach to the Switch eShop. Issues related to curation and communication have been at the core, and we were painted a picture of an arrangement and set of policies that undoubtedly pleases those in the door, but has left those on the outside at times frustrated, ignored and in some respects embittered. Some were hesitant to be quoted even anonymously due to upcoming business with Nintendo, while others were happy to share their perspectives - directly and indirectly quoted - while being un-named.
In addition to Nindies with notable track records of quality eShop releases on previous systems, we've spoken to a small number of other developers that are new to Nintendo hardware and making their first steps. In talking to these developers, with records of high quality and intriguing download titles on various platforms, we agreed to share their perspectives anonymously. There's a willingness to discuss aspects of Nintendo and the Switch eShop, but not at the risk of damaging future business and publication hopes. We're naturally respecting this.
That said, some have tempered complaints and issues with on-the-record moderating remarks on the challenges Nintendo undoubtedly faces, so we'll also reflect that perspective. The goal is to show that, underneath the 'Nindie' PR and positive talk of curation, Nintendo faces challenges in order to avoid alienating some of the developers and projects that will be needed for the eShop's future success; that's the story to be told.
"Arrogance", Silence and a Lost Relationship
First of all, let's start with 'Nindie 1' - anonymity protected - that has an established reputation and top-rated eShop releases. It's important to also note that these quotes, and those that follow in this piece, are all related specifically to Nintendo of America. We also only sought out Nindies for this article that have released highly-rated titles, and not those with releases that were arguably not of a high standard on previous eShops. We spoke to companies with games that can add to the quality of the Switch eShop through its curation policy, not those that will likely be excluded on the grounds of game quality.
Much of the discontent for Nindie 1 began back when the Nintendo Switch was the 'NX' and a mystery to most of the world. As the Summer of 2016 wore on Nintendo seemingly had a number of leaks relating to the system, some accurate, some clearly made up, but beyond all of that noise developers wanted in on the ground floor. The trouble is that a Nintendo in lockdown is likely to keep indie developers at length, even 'Nindies'.
Perhaps that's fair, but a problem that apparently arose was the nature - or lack - of communication. After years of developing relationships those Nindies we spoke to felt cut out of the loop. When the Switch was then unveiled in October 2016 and some developers, many of them in Europe, boasted of the fact they were already working on the hardware, frustration was inevitable. For the veteran publisher / developer comfortable with being quoted in this article - Nindie 1 - all they experienced from Nintendo of America was a cold shoulder and a lack of detail. The tone was an issue, in addition to the slowness and infrequency of communications.
Here they talk about a relationship forged over a number of years, and how it fell apart over the past 12 months:
I've had a long-standing relationship with Nintendo for many years. We've gone out eating and drinking multiple times, and I consider many of them to be my friends. I've always brought my A game to Nintendo platforms and have been responsible for some of the highest rated games on their systems, so it had always been a good relationship. I reached out to them very early on back when the Switch was still called NX and people didn't even know if it was a handheld or a console. It was a bit of a slap in the face that after all of the years of partnership, I would get very formal corporate responses to my emails.
I had always felt that Nintendo was trying to help us succeed in the past, but now that they're the only platform with a new system, they're just turning their backs on their most loyal partners. It felt very impersonal and arrogant. I'll still probably make games for the Switch once I'm let in, but as soon as the honeymoon phase for the system is over, they are going to be way down on my list. From this point on, I no longer feel like I have a personal relationship with Nintendo. It's 100% transactional.
The developer emphasizes that, in the past, communications would be direct and personal, but in their case responses have often "read like a form letter", lacking that personal approach.
A second Nindie based in North America - Nindie 2 - also discussed with us the nature of some announcements following the October reveal of the hardware, with their own frustration at the evident progress some European studios were enjoying. Delays in contact and a lack of clarity, in the cases of these developers, led to them feeling marginalised. In these cases it's geographical, with NOA being the point of contact and similar criticisms not being levelled at Nintendo of Europe or NCL.
It's not difficult to identify how Nintendo is currently curating the Switch eShop, meanwhile, and it's been referenced by developers already. There's talk of 'waves', with partners that were given early access being plotted in for 2017 or even the launch window, and others either turned away or told to wait until later before bringing their titles to the system.
Nindie 1 is yet to get in the door with Switch, and argues that the eShop team - formally called the Publisher & Developer Relations department - in North America doesn't necessarily have the experience to perform the curation / gating role it has. They make the point, partly substantiated by another source later in the article, that the team is also using a curation remit to "try and force developers to create exclusive game modes or commit to some time-based exclusivity just for the right to release games on their system". The word "arrogant" is used when referencing the drive by Nintendo to gain some forms of exclusivity while offering little in return, a conflating of publication approval with "strongarm" demands for unique content.
When it comes to the curation, and what we've seen to date, Nindie 1 has stated the belief that there's inconsistency in the supposed policy at work. Nintendo has worked to share the impression of seeking new and unique experiences, but releases to date haven't always followed that apparent goal.
There's no doubt that Nintendo systems have been plagued by shovelware over the years. But Nintendo's solution to this is broken. First, they're being very inconsistent. Their stated policy is that they're not allowing any ports. And yet, about half of the games are ports! Second, because the people in charge of making the decisions are marketing people with no experience on the development side, they don't know how to evaluate games that are still in development. They look at a game that's 20% complete and then they can't extrapolate what it will be like after an additional year or two of development.
It's a huge step backward for the industry for indies to be put in a position where we have to pitch games to a marketing guy who's never made a game before. That's the way the industry was ten years ago when the only way to release a game was through a publisher. Now indies should be able to go directly to consumers. And it's the height of arrogance for Nintendo to think that it can predict where the next big hit is going to come from. Didn't they learn anything from Nintendo 64? They tried this same approach back then and lost virtually all publisher support.
When talking to these Nindies, one that we've cited directly and one indirectly, we were well aware that emotions were high - after numerous critically acclaimed releases and a previous status in the eShop 'club', they have felt dismissed and marginalised. The relationships forged over recent years have made way for curt corporate responses, slow communications and in some cases surprise rejections. The frustration may be justified, but it's still a particularly emotive perspective.
Aware of that we spoke to other developers, one at length and multiple others in shorter email exchanges, that are largely new to Nintendo hardware. They corroborate the guts of what the Nindie sources told us, albeit without past relationships perhaps muddying the waters.
Back and Forth
We spoke to a developer (let's call them Indie 1 for clarity), new to Nintendo systems, that's released games on multiple platforms and is arguably the kind of creative and dynamic studio that the Switch eShop purportedly needs. Its games are intriguing, each carefully constructed and stylish.
Indie 1 tells an interesting tale of approaching Nintendo and initially making progress. The problem? Nintendo was setting down relatively demanding requirements in the 'NX' days, which wasn't the way the studio was accustomed to working.
They wouldn't give any details (on what Switch was) but wanted us to give them a game pitch, essentially. They were excited to work with us but wanted new content that would be exclusive to what is now Switch.
So really we just had that first contact and thought it went really well, though we hadn't decided if we wanted to do that. I don't think it's good for indies to be exclusive unless the deal is really good. It was like "we want a pitch for a new game that'll be exclusively for our new platform that we can't tell you anything about".
Rather like with Nintendo publishing and acquiring the IP rights to Snipperclips - Cut it out, together!, which the UK-based developer was clearly happy to produce with Nintendo in Europe and Japan, Nintendo of America initially sought ownership of the potential pitch from Indie 1. It was a proposal that never got far as, ultimately, this studio didn't want to go down that route. The problem was when the studio's enquiry then shifted to its own hopes, in this case porting an existing project.
We asked about porting but it wasn't really answered. They didn't seem like they were interested in that yet.
I think we just went into it expecting to talk about our current game and they just wanted us to pitch something new and exclusive. And all subsequent queries about our current game were ignored.
The story they tell is of back and forth. Communications ended, there was a resurgence when another approach was made, but then more silence when the pitch for a port was reiterated. This studio has begun to make progress since, and they tell of an eShop team that isn't dismissive, in this case, but perhaps undercooked and not always equipped or organised enough to move discussions forward.
They are pretty responsive again now. It was just a weird run-around, the guy we talked to (seemingly an 'exclusives' guy) should have pointed us to the right channel but he just kind of went silent if we weren't talking about new exclusives. If we hadn't pursued it through other industry people we would've been left with ostensibly a dead end.
It was just weird hearing that Nintendo wasn't interested in ports of existing titles, then seeing Stardew Valley and Binding of Isaac up there. With our talks it was strange - they want a new exclusive from us, they don't want a port from us, ports of other games then appear.
You have to find the right person to talk to, and we had the same trouble with other platforms in the past. I'm not sure how it would be for indies starting out who don't have the contacts we do now. I imagine it'd be tough.
This image of an eShop team struggling to manage relationships is reinforced elsewhere. A second indie studio (Indie 2) tells us that though communications are now up and running, "before then it was silence". The "focus" and size of the team - according to Indie 2 - is seemingly a problem for developers trying to make progress; a number of devs we spoke to ultimately had good words for the professionalism and intent of those they've liaised with at Nintendo of America, but long periods of silence and stalled progress have held back projects.
When quizzed on their most notable complaint around Nintendo and the Switch eShop, however, there's an interesting change of direction from another source (Indie 3). Some developers new to Nintendo hardware may be surprised that dev kits cost as much as they do. It's notable that Nintendo and Capcom recently talked up how affordable the kits are at a recent conference in Japan, yet the reality is that rival platform holders give these dev units out for free in various cases. Indie 3 told us that "Nintendo is the only platform where we have had to pay for dev kits. We're not an Indie game of the size of Shovel Knight, but with Xbox and PS4 we have gotten all the dev and test kits for free".
That, of course, is not policy set by Nintendo of America, but from a fourth indie (Indie 4) developer's experience it aligned with poor communications to leave them with a mixed first impression of publishing on the Switch eShop.
Getting a Wii U devkit took a week of work (basically nothing), while it was impossible to get our hands on a Switch. We had to go to a publisher for it. Our only other complaint is about under-communication.
Professionalism is there, there's no doubt about it. But hardware access was way more painful than needed for sure, especially compared to Xbox One. Outside of that everything else makes sense and it's in-line with industry standards.
For some, in fact, going the old-fashioned route of working with a publisher seems to be the easiest way to move forward quickly. Our 'Indie 5' spoke warmly of their publisher and how quickly everything happened with them on board, from initial contact to receiving dev kits. For some others that's not a preferable option, of course.
All Part of the Game
In the interest of balance, while there's certainly disgruntlement among some, and others more tolerant that are still having problems with the Switch eShop process in North America, a number of developers we spoke to didn't feel that way. Over half of those we contacted either weren't at a stage where issues have arisen, or are well into the process (including major games already announced) and have no complaints to make. It seems to us that those that get through to the eShop team and past initial pitches and discussions are generally happy, as would perhaps be expected.
Others have simply suggested these complaints are part of the game, inseparable from the business of working with a console manufacturer. John Warner of Over the Moon Games (The Fall) was happy to talk on the record. From his perspective challenges and delays in releasing a game are part of the indie life, as he states below.
Everyone I've talked with has been polite and supportive. Efficient - as much as possible. Sometimes things take a while to move, but they've got a lot of plates spinning. These things take time.
While it's true that they can sometimes be a bit slow to respond, I'm guilty of that too, and they're probably busier than I am. Let me be clear - bringing a game to a console sucks, always. The emergence of indie games only makes this process more complicated because the sheer number of games a given platform holder needs to be able to process has sky-rocketed - that's a serious problem that needs solving. I wish that I had a dedicated person at every major console who would call me in the morning and ask how I slept, but I'm afraid they've got bigger fish to fry.
As an indie, I need to admit that I'm not the next "Destiny" and frankly, I'm glad for what I can get. I know I sound like a Dickensian street urchin here, but Nintendo has built a massive amount of goodwill over the last 30 years and if I want a little of that light shined in my direction, I've got to try to play on their terms and try and be patient as they sort through the five billion other devs who want the same. Why would it work otherwise?
As for curation, Warner also feels that's as justifiable approach as any, even if it adds to the time it takes to sift through projects.
The challenge, presumably, is sorting through the veritable explosion of new games, and trying to evaluate which ones will connect with what part of their large market. I think that's probably the problem that every platform holder needs to solve. There are a lot of games being made. How can you tell which one is the next "Stardew Valley"? More specifically, how do you create an environment where that game emerges on your platform without blowing your entire budget manually sifting through the twenty-five trillion indies who are all confident that they've got that game? If you've got the answer please email me, because we will be rich.
Another developer happy to talk up for Nintendo of America's eShop team and its policies is Zhenghua Yang (Z) of Serenity Forge; it's a studio with some intriguing games that was actually a registered Wii U developer but didn't finalise any of its releases; it's currently working towards publishing on the Switch eShop. Within the praise, however, we're told once again that Nintendo of America's team is likely under-resourced, especially in comparison to rival companies.
It's actually surprisingly easy to establish a relationship with Nintendo. Nintendo was actually the first console manufacturer that reached out to us back in the day, and the Wii U dev kit was the first dev kit we received. I think a lot of people assume Nintendo is impossible to get a hold of because of their corporate culture. Truth is, the Nintendo of America folks are all working pretty hard within their power to give 3rd party developers the resources they need.
I think now-a-days the eShop teams across the board have been amazing people to work with, and Nintendo is no different. From what I can tell, both PlayStation and Xbox teams have very dedicated teams and account managers working with their developers. Nintendo, on the other hand, is probably more short-staffed. Each person always seems like they're juggling a lot on their plate. If anything, as a developer I hope that Nintendo would bring on more people to help out the eShop team.
The biggest strength by far in how Nintendo curates the eShop content, though, is that it further defines the Nintendo vision. When picking up any Nintendo game, you know that it would have "fun" at the centre of its design. Alternatively, speaking on its weakness (and almost from a fan perspective), I personally wished that Nintendo games could follow the growth of its core audience over time. I own and have played every Nintendo console since the original Famicom (in China), and I've always loved them. However now-a-days in a busy lifestyle, it's harder to find Nintendo experiences that are really catered towards me. I think as a corporation, the steps that Nintendo takes in investing in unique experiences like Pokemon GO, or Fire Emblem Heroes are the exact answers I've been looking for. Additionally, it's been easier than ever being a 3rd party developer for Nintendo. I think it's only a matter of time, now that the Switch dev kits are sent to the developers, for the eShop to be filling with a variety of content.
That final point, most would agree, is the perfect end goal for the Switch eShop.
Curation Wins and Loses Friends
After sifting through the interviews and perspectives gathered for this feature we were left with a mixed bag of viewpoints. On the one hand slow communication, occasional dry and corporate responses, paying for dev kits, dealing with requests and demands that are never seriously contemplated - that's all part of the download publishing process. On top of that, those talking both scathingly and more positively often returned to one common refrain - the eShop team in North America appears to face excessive demand, struggling to find the resources to meet the workload of eager developers that want in on the Switch ground floor.
That said, there are clearly things that have gone wrong. The established Nindies we spoke to - though only one wanted to be quoted even on an anonymous basis - have released games worthy of top marks in our own reviews here on Nintendo Life, and they're well known studios. It was eye-opening to see how disconnected they now feel, individuals that have - in the past - spoken about Nintendo with reverence and loyalty now say it's just another company. Any old platform. That special feeling of being on Nintendo hardware has been sullied by their recent experiences. Though Nintendo of America may face notable challenges managing the Switch eShop, some that have been outlined in this feature, they evidently handled the task poorly in some cases; we were also told of others in a similar situation that simply did not want to risk talking on any level.
Perhaps, in the end, these are the worst cases in the growing pains of a new eShop process. After dropping the bar on Wii U to the point there were practically no limitations to publishing games, now Nintendo is going the other way and curating content. It's a major policy shift that has led to some high-profile casualties.
The key takeaway for now seems clear - Nintendo has a plan and a mission with the Switch eShop, but also has plenty of room to improve to ensure that the current generation of Nindies feel the same loyalty and passion for the system as those that have graced the 3DS and Wii U. Slow communications, evidently abrupt and impersonal at times, can frustrate those trying to share their games with a Nintendo audience or, in the worst case scenario, alienate those that had forged a strong relationship over many years.
While some individuals within the Publisher & Developer Relations department have perhaps made errors in managing relationships, the most common theme is that it's a team that simply seems under-equipped. Nintendo has dramatically moved the goalposts with curation on the Switch, which is arguably for the better, yet appears to be trying to do so with small teams previously in place for light-touch management of the Wii U and 3DS stores. To curate a download store that'll be the envy of other consoles, a sizeable and well-resourced group is surely needed.
What we're also left with is the big question - how far should curation go? After all, different regional approaches still bring us games like Vroom in the Night Sky, which we feel is a poor game from any angle. Inconsistencies in policies are also baffling, in which we get quality re-releases like the Tomorrow Corporation trilogy but see the likes of the brilliant Axiom Verge get rejected.
However Nintendo's policies towards the Switch eShop evolve, one thing never changes - it's all about the developers. Indies, Nindies, whatever you want to call them, Nintendo's teams around the globe have the tough responsibility of encouraging and supporting the most talented developers. Falling short isn't an option, as those left disillusioned have plenty of other suitors on PC, PS4, Xbox One and even smart devices.
Nintendo's name and brand power isn't enough - it needs to work hard and setup the resources necessary to keep indie developers on board. Without them, the Switch eShop is just a hub for pricey retail downloads.
We gave Nintendo of America a full right of reply to this article, but the company declined to comment.
I asked NG Dev Team about porting there established library to Switch as they make some great indie games, owned many on the Dreamcast and they often get high praise.
But they responded by informing me how Ninty is very strict and controlling with dev kits and they don't just give them out to anyone.
They have around 9 games now they could port over that are all ready and complete and I'd rebuy them all to have them on Switch. So it's a shame. Especially as some shovelware like Has Been Heroes gets priority over games like Axiom Verge.
I wonder what Dan Adelman has to say about the situation?
This is some mighty fine curation.
Edit: Also, remember Dan Baker's interview with Gamasutra where all this talk of curation sprang from:
“We want to honor our fans by making sure we’ve got original content, that we’re forward-looking rather than backwards,” he said. “That’s not to say that there aren’t ports or other great content that have come out in the past couple or few years that wouldn’t work perfect on Switch. It’s just not a priority for right now.”
Remind me what your big launch game was? Or what's Nintendo releasing this week again? Years Dan, not a priority right now? The console's a month old and its 2 biggest games are Wii U ports.
An interesting read for sure. But while I'm under the impression that Indie developers do need good support by Nintendo, I think some strong AAA titles are also going to be needed for the console to really take off. A strong amount of both is really the dream.
Remember the Gamecube days (and before) when Nintendo refused to believe the Internet was even of value to videogaming?!
At least they've now changed their stance but it's made them five steps behind everyone else the whole time and is frustrating...
If they told every indie dev team about the switch it would not have been a secret. Pretty easy to take pokes at the giant when your not putting your name on the comments. Some one better call the wambulance.
Great article. They seem to have taken a step back compered to the Wii U. At least we're not back to the Ware days lol.
I think that on one hand, Nintendo attempting to be more stingy with indie content appearing on their console (anyone remember that awful Meme Run game on Wii U?), having higher quality control is a good thing.
But on the same token, if they alienate long time indie developing partners in the process, it will be very counterproductive. They are tossing aside quality content while the Switch could use good eShop titles to stem the tides of software droughts. There is always a risk of being bombarded with indie titles, but I would rather have the option to choose between quality Indies than have nothing at all.
This makes me so mad. I'm still waiting for Dress My Fluffy Pink Unicorn Baby Shop 14!
A very interesting article. And surprising given the strong start that the Switch e Shop has had so far with not just ports but Snake Pass, Graceful Explosion Machine etc.
What surprises me is some good quality games are being ignored/disregarded like Axiom verge, which was allegedly possible as a launch title. I hope they figure things out because I'd love some good Eshop titles the Wii U missed out on. N+++ or whatever it's called in particular since it didn't get released on the vita like I had hoped it would
Is there anything stopping American Nindies from just approaching Nintendo of Europe instead? (And then approach NoA after its been released in Europe)
Good piece of journalism! More articles like this will help NL thrive. Anyone can print a press release or review a game but this kind of thing takes skill, time, contacts and work. Bravo. Also hope o don't sound like a patronizing git
@VENOMVSCARNAGE Not to mention shovelware like Vroom, which also made it to the Switch platform.
It almost feels like Nintendo let those games slip on the eShop on purpose to fill up the library a bit, since there is a clear lack of games at the moment (mostly ports and re-releases).
Then it's really frustrating to see how good willing (Indy) devs are being ignored by Nintendo.
Should have just opened the gates, let anyone publish, make it easy to release, and then curate the content on the eShop itself and bury bad games by giving them zero marketing push.
It needs the Nintendo seal of quality
Honestly, just scrolled down to the bottom to say I don't come to this site for long-form journalism.
You have to be careful when taking a load of complaints from one side of a relationship anonymously and therefore allowing no response from the accused party (Nintendo). It does read a bit like whining because they weren't the first on the guest list. Not everyone could be and as someone else stated - If they had told everyone about Switch there would have been a flood of leaks.
This article also suffers from having paragraphs and paragraphs of explanations, background and disclaimers. Feel like you could have covered pretty much all of that in a single paragraph at the start.
sounds like a major issue is Nintendo America but only look at the numpty in charge & it isnt exactly supprising
Still waiting for RCMADIAX games on Switch. Don't disappoint me, man.
Out of all the titles, I'm really only interested in a port about Gungeons. Maybe that other game about mining. Too many Knights--should be a compilation game. Will wait till winter for more information.
@BionicDodo Nintendo had full right of reply (stated at the end). They had significant access to the article before publication, they chose not to comment. That's fair enough, their prerogative, but they had the opportunity.
I think Nintendo's idea is to be very selective in the launch window, to be able to give proper support to each developer and make sure the games hit their release dates in a plan of regular releases. They can't give that treatment to everyone, so some will be left out.
I think it seems to work, so far. Basically one quality indie game every week. Hopefully, though, the less privileged indies won't be so disgruntled that they won't support the Switch later on when the eShop becomes more free for all.
Ask these anonymous devs if they want any vinegar with ALL THAT SALT!!
..sure, if Marketing Execs are in charge of curation - that's bad...that's very bad! Marketing Execs are, after all, the best evidence we currently have for the existence of the Devil...but, developers who find themselves on the wrong side of the divide are bound to be pretty salty about it - so you should take their remarks with a pinch of...y'now
(Great article by the way! )
Great article, one of the most thought out and researched I've read in awhile. Curation will never be perfect but when a game like Vroom in the Night Sky is already released on it and a game like Axiom Verge is having problems even starting the process, something is broken. Also interesting that some indies are being told Nintendo isn't looking for ports while other indies have already released ports, or will soon. I hope Nintendo sees this article.
Nintendo needs to do something. The little guys actually matter in the long run.
The only games I will be getting Digitally are VC games.
I may get others if and only if they are part of a Humble Bundle.
I got burned bad with the WiiU and 3DS eShops and will not be repeating that.
@Lizuka the problem is that it bloats the store. Instead of just seeing virtual shelves of games with actual work put into them, you have to sift through the crap to find the good games. Also, it gives the consumer a negative view of the store as a whole making them less likely to buy from there.
@ThomasBW84 My point was more about the difficulty of anonymous critics. Don't get me wrong, I understand why they need to remain anonymous, just that it doesn't make things very fair.
"Someone unnamed has said nasty things about your relationship, how do you respond?"
Just wonder, why does some Indie games on PS4 get the physical release easily while for Nintendo still E-shop (example: Overcooked Gourmet Edition, Portal Knights, etc) ?
@hendie001 To be fair, it was hardly a secret. Most of us knew what the Switch was going to be back in July 2016.
Their approach is flawed but overall reasonable. They likely do not have the resources to get Dev kits and giver proper technical support to the sheer flood of Indie developers wanting to develop and to be frank certain developers I certainly would just pretend I never got their emails(RCMADIAX for example)
Shovelware damaged their reputation
And yeah I do get the point about anonymous. It does drive me nuts when you get "anonymous insiders" and suddenly everyone is losing thier minds online because insert person, group or company is so evil to treat that person that way,
I don't doubt there are some problems here but you gotta be careful with anonymous stories that are only one side of the story.
No doubt this article is already being used to troll on gamefaqs by Linetrix or one of the usual suspects who made the Wii U board one of the most toxic places on that site.
@BionicDodo Ah I see, it's a fair point. I did also seek out those happy to speak on the record (in the third section), and the aim was to balance out with that section where devs defend / explain some of the issues. It's inevitable that plenty request anonymity though, they have business concerns to worry about.
Thanks for the feedback though - I was happy with the balance in terms of portraying different perspectives, but appreciate the comments.
It's pretty clear why Axiom Verge is not getting the green light.
Nintendo doesn't want anything to take away from their imminent announcement of a Retro-developed 2D Metroid for Switch releasing between September and October.
You heard it hear first
@Gold_Ranger If I'm going to take a chance on a game, it's normally going to be on the eshop where the games are cheaper. There is so much information out there on every game (YouTube, reviews, etc.), it's hard to get completely burned unless you go in totally blind. Even if most of the games are mediocre, the gems are worth searching out.
@ghostjoshu Don't mess with my heart. I've given up on getting another 2D Metroid.
@datamonkey Yeah I remember that. Very true indeed..
This certainly explains why those developers that already have their feet in the door are practically breaking their necks defending and praising the Switch, and Nintendo, at every opportunity in every direction.
Sad that Nintendo seems to go one step forward, two steps back on things that they really should have nailed down by now.
This is disappointing if this is how Nintendo treats some indie developers. However I think I'll still reserve my judgement until we can get a story from both sides (although I know this is not likely). It's easy to paint to sides as black and white when only one gives their perspective.
What an interesting read. Even with the bad examples where curation does more harm than good to certain developers, I'd rather have what we have today than an all-open eShop.
On the other hand, I wonder if there's an approach in which the community could somehow "help" with curation.
Mario Kart 8 is forever locked on my WiiU. It can't be transferred to the Switch.
Xenoblade and X are also locked on the system.
So many 1st party games downloaded and unable to be transferred to the new system is what I mean by being burned. Especially now that the new Mario Kart is just the same as the previous game with new DLC included.
We know that the new things in it, which isn't all that much was going to be WiiU MK8 dlc. However they just decided to port over everything on to the Switch.
This is a shame. Nintendo uses terms like partner and friends a lot. I know you can't please everyone. But Nintendo wouldn't be themselves if they didn't maintain some kind of bizarreness to the way they do things.. I don't know, man. This is going to be an interesting turnout to say the least. We will see what actions are revealed from everyone involved I guess.
I don't think it is two steps back. This curation thing in the early days is probably meant to ensure a regular release schedule. A quality indie title every week is a lot better than what I remember from the Wii U launch period.
It's unfortunate that some indie devs feel burned, and that could be a problem in the long run, but so far I think the strategy is working. Maybe one step forward, one step back?
Honestly, this is the one thing worrying me about the Switch right now. I'm utterly in love with the machine, and I'm also completely okay with indies being its main third-parties (I admittedly have enjoyed indie games way more than AAA third parties over the last few years, and I own both a PS4 and a gaming PC). Nintendo's apparent cluelessness when it comes to those same potential partners, however, is giving me a very bad feeling.
I can only imagine which developers are the ones speaking anonimously in the article, but the fact that Axiom Verge, one of the best indie games ever released in my opinion, is having so much trouble getting on the Switch e-Shop is nothing short of fascinating, in a very sad way.
All signs point to Nintendo having a big hit in their hands, but they definitely need to wise up when it comes to ease of communication with indies.
I read this whole article about eshop curation with the words "But Vroom in the Night Sky" echoing around my head, until I got to the end and saw it finally mentioned...
This sounds, from what the article suggests, to be a resource issue at Nintendo rather than a policy. When people are stretched, they make mistakes or can alienate people. I hope they sort this out, the Switch is the perfect form factor for Indies and could really become an indie flagship device.
Anyways, great article, well written and raises some good points. More please!
I actually agree with Nintendo's approach (sorry devs who didn't make the cut this time). I will say though that I do believe that could ease up a little on it being so restricted though (and I believe they will once the Switch gets rolling). There are plenty of game developers who do good work even if the games they make aren't 10/10s.
What I found so unbelievable about the Wii U eshop was that we saw the likes of TreeFall Studios and RCMADIAX trolling around on there. I'm happy to hear that RCMADIAX's comment to me that cheap games is the "new normal. Get used to it", has been rejected by Nintendo this time around.
Occasionally I look on his twitter, and I just smile when I see how butt-hurt he is about Nintendo not sending him a Switch dev kit. Oh and also, he stopped playing Zelda 15 hours in because he thought it was boring. I guess he never played any of his own games to actually know what boring means.
Good riddance to people like him.
@Krillin @SLIGEACH_EIRE Vroom in the Night Sky is a Japanese game, meaning Nintendo of America's admittedly misguided curation policies don't really have anything to do with it.
@hiptanaka It's the arrogance, paid for dev kit, and mixed communication from different representatives that really set them that extra step backwards.
There's nothing worse than being told by someone in a company "yeah we can do that" and getting through some of the process only to be stopped and told "no, we won't do that, we never said that". That to me says they have a lot of work to do before they can start bragging about their "nindie" success stories.
@ThomasBW84 Don't get me wrong, on the whole I think this is a good read and it does cover all opinions. I just felt a bit like it was focused on the negatives given the headline and especially the sub-headline quote.
Reading the Indie section makes me think Nintendo are like all huge companies in that they have thousands of employees and you can end up talking to the wrong person and not getting where you want or you can find the right person and everything goes swimmingly. That's usually the way with massive companies as it is very difficult to keep things cohesive and streamlined. Hopefully this will improve once the system has been around a little while.
Bring back the old rules Nintendo, the fans want Meme Run 2!
But seriously, especially given big 3rd party support will likely be very poor in 2018 onwards Nintendo needs to treat Nindies better, even if it means the eshop being filled with a bunch of shovelware.
Sounds like these devs are spurned from Nintendo keeping secrets from them. Well with all the leaks happening I dont blame them. Trust no one not even the closest of devs.
"They make the point, partly substantiated by another source later in the article, that the team is also using a curation remit to "try and force developers to create exclusive game modes or commit to some time-based exclusivity just for the right to release games on their system". The word "arrogant" is used when referencing the drive by Nintendo to gain some forms of exclusivity while offering little in return, a conflating of publication approval with "strongarm" demands for unique content." - this is a problem. Microsoft tried this with XBO and had to step away from the policy because it only hurt them. It will hurt Nintendo too.
And I also have never understood Nintendo's claims of ports not being allowed into the eshop in the launch window. Shovel Knight is a port. Snake Pass is a is a port. Stardew is a is a port. The Neo Geo games are is a ports. I am Setsuna is a is a port. The list goes on and on
@ricklongo I wasn't really blaming NoA for Vroom. I thought the curation policy for the Switch eshop was universal, not just American, so if that's wrong, mea culpa. Just think it is interesting that the same corporate policy that's presumably hampering NoA's ability to deal with developers had no issue with green-lighting a laughably poor (by more or less all accounts) effort in Japan. Vroom really is an outlier, though. The Switch eshop is generally pretty decent, for a six-week-old platform.
This is appalling to hear. Nintendo of America undoubtedly needs to get its act together. That being said, I would have loved to have had Disagea 5 available at launch like with Japan. So I can only assume Nintendo of Europe is dropping the ball at points as well.
So I guess there are currently a few issues surrounding why we haven't gotten as many title as we could have at launch and the weeks following. I'm not going to sugar-coat this and pretend its something minior as I agree this needs to be sorted as quickly as possible. I've been whining day in and day out for more titles than we have now. There hasn't been a single full game title on eshop yet that has kept me coming back to my Switch: The Tetris Demo does that!
Fix this, Nintendo! And quickly!
@ThomasBW84 I do wish they would have had something to say in response, even if just a relatively meaningless platitude, like "We're working to get more dev kits to the developers who want them, and we we're working to get as much great content on the platform as we can as soon as possible. We apologize to any developers who feel left out of this process, and we're working to make things right." Their unwillingness to comment at all is a bit surprising and worrying, honestly.
@SLIGEACH_EIRE Vroom in the Night Sky is at least a little bit underrated. It's not what I would call an absolute disaster. There were people on the team who certainly knew what they were doing.
@duducamargo I could certainly see that being an option if implemented well, but I think services like Steam Greenlight and pretty much anything Valve has done with community curation has shown just how easily that approach can be exploited. If nothing else, maybe take an approach like the White House does (or did) for petitions getting over 100,000 signatures receiving a formal response from the White House; maybe getting 1,000 "votes" of some kind could speed up the process of getting their attention through an official Nintendo portal of some kind? Still risky, but not as easy to exploit since it'd come with immediate human oversight.
Absolutely stupid by Nintendo. They (or NOA at least) need to get their act together. They're not in a position to be too picky about support and their attempts to curate have still allowed ports and bad games anyway. That they couldn't even be bothered to comment is sad, but unsurprising.
There are a few cases here where it's clear that Nintendo's classic communication problems are still problematic, especially at NoA, however, I think the article and the headline are blowing out of proportion some indie dev frustrations with basically wanting every platform to be an open platform so they can push out their shovelware.
I know the article says that they had some highly rated games in the past, but we don't know what they are so we can't evaluate that. And when I look at what HAS been highlighted for Nindies pretty much every developer of what I recognized as a high quality (pseudo-commercial) Nindie (and some that are below my personal standard for something I'd spend money on as well) they're all represented, meaning to me, as well as the "marketing guy" at Nintendo the others just might not make the cut. There are other quality games that are not represented here such as Rocket League, maybe that's who this guy is...maybe it's not, but we don't know because he's anonymously, passive-aggressively attacking Nintendo's policies while hiding because he still wants to work with Nintendo. Which is it, Nintendo is a problem or Nintendo is a partner? And if they're a partner that just made some errors that don't prevent you from wanting to work with them why are you anonymously complaining to the press about them?
The main complaints represented seem to be not about how the Switch eShop was handled but about how pre-launch hardware secrecy was handled and how it shut some devs out, and about how the curation that cuts some games that the devs behind it feel shouldn't be cut. For the former, yeah, it sucks, but Nintendo was leaking like a seive and they didn't know from where. Controlling their platform secrets, as a business imperative, was their #1 requirement above all else. If they had to burn Ubisoft to do it they would have done so. Whether that was a good priority or not by the time the leaks came out how knows, but that was the priority they decided on, and everything else comes from that. For the latter, just because the dev thinks the game should make the cut, that's not how curation works. Curation means the marketing guy determines what people might buy.
"That's the way the industry was ten years ago when the only way to release a game was through a publisher. Now indies should be able to go directly to consumers. And it's the height of arrogance for Nintendo to think that it can predict where the next big hit is going to come from. " That's kind of the point though. The point of Nintendo's curation policy is specifically to act as a publishing gateway to meet a quality standard, an echo of the seal of quality program that made gaming tolerable and marketable at a time when the flood of "direct to consumer" shovelware burried the whole medium, as is happening again with the explosion of App Store/Play Store/Greenlight and "direct to customer" constructs. They might get it right, they might get it wrong, your great game might get cut, but the concept of curation is specifically to do something to keep the releases minimized to a manageable level, highlight certain programs and provide a consistent consumer experience (to a degree anyway.)
As a consumer, it's a great program. I actually pay attention to the eShop while they do this. The last time I looked at the PSN store was probably PS4 launch month. Never even logged in since. Last time I looked at the 3DS or WiiU eShop was during the Nindies Humble Bundle to cash out....before that probably 3 years ago was the last time I browsed it. Too much noise, too much junk. it looked like an app store. Not worth my time against retail titles. As long as Switch continues as-is with retail-like release lineups, I'll keep looking. As soon as they drop the curation and open the flood gates is the moment I forget which icon on the bottom loads the eShop and I can report back here 6 years from now "oh yeah, I haven't been to the eShop since 2017"
Some good devs maybe didn't get exposure to me because of it. But some good devs DID get exposure to me they otherwise would not have because of it. There's a lot of devs, a lot of games, too many to make everything playable and therefore worth spending time on. If Nintendo, a company I trust to pick good experiences is going to curate content they think I might like as a fan of their own products, I'm going to run with that and look at those recommendations.
If these anonymous devs don't know why their game was cut, they need to find out why. Were they blocked because there was something about their game the "marketing guy" didn't like? I wonder what critics will think of the same game? Or were they just a little later to inquiry and all the available room on the schedule was blocked? Bad timing, not bad game? We don't know, they don't know. Yet fingers are pointing.
Getting form letters after having friendships with the staff is a turn-off, but can you imagine how many devs from Sumo down to RCMAX or whatever it is were spamming inboxes every day? There were a lot of people to respond to and only a few at Nintendo to do it. Obviously this dev doesn't feel the bridges are truly burned if he's not willing to go public about his identitiy. It's like high school. "Oh, it's Elena, I HATE her, she's such a snob, she won't even talk to me. Oh Elana wants to hang out, she's like my bestest friend since for EVERS."
Sure, Vroom, Shifty, etc, are exceptions that clearly shouldn't have made the cut. Maybe some didn't make the cut that should have. Curation is curation, you're going to get it wrong sometimes, but from a consumer perspective, the curation is the only reason I bother looking at all. The moment too many Vrooms and Shifty's show up, indies become universally shovelware to me again until I see them in a retail box.
If a person/company is too cowardly to own their quotes but instead hide behind anonymity, I don't trust them.
@MarioPhD Absolutely. I could easily see a system being exploited or only covering the same genres over and over again.
So I agree with you. Whenever I get asked what Nintendo can do better, communicating with the fans always comes to mind, as in having a conversation that feels more direct. In this current scenario, it would be awesome to just have someone say "yep, we heard you and we'll work to get Axiom Verge into the Switch"
@duducamargo ""yep, we heard you and we'll work to get Axiom Verge into the Switch" I never saw it covered on NL but I saw not only is Axiom coming, but it's getting a physical release. If the devs were among the anonymous complaints I'm sure they feel like giant sphincters right about now....
NL is rife with Wii U eShop game reviews of games scoring 3 to 5 stars (which was generous in some cases). Wholly unnecessary games that tended to reduce the eShop to a mobile app store. Glad Big N seems to be thinking more in terms of the "Seal of Quality" than quantity this time round.
Very weird article @ThomasBW84 There's not enough information to make a proper case here. Especially since all the negative opinions are from "anonymous" sources. Nevertheless, it is clear by the quotes that this devs are frustrated for not been on the first batch of indies on Switch. Maybe their games weren't good enough or maybe weren't complete enough OR maybe they are derivative games similar to a certain IP that Nintendo is planing to resurrect? We won't know without Nintendo's opinion. And since they decided not to comment about it, why publish the article anyway? This was indeed a weird one. Too much sensationalism for an article of yours.
@Lizuka The problem with shovelware on the eShop is that the amount of info on display can make you buy a game that is underwhelming. For example, lack of demos on many, many games, plus lack of videos in many games also. A much more robust eShop is needed so good games stand a chance against mindless drivel (looking at you RCDMAX, or whatever you are called!).
@Mando44646 I think they mean "no after the fact late ports." Shovel Knight Spectre was timed exclusive (which may have been part of the deal to get Treasure Trove in...which also supports Amiibo which is not available on other platforms), Setsuna isn't an eShop title but a Retail title where ports were never denied. Snake pass is simultaneous multiplat (not a late port), Stardew is a port though, and Neo Geo, yeah, clearly a port. It's not totally consistent, you're right. I'd be curious what the justifications were there.
@NEStalgia I might be wrong, but I believe that this news on Axiom Verge on Switch were fake.
@Billsama You are missing the point. Either you didn't bother to read the article complete or you are a Nintendo employee on disguise. First, Nintendo wouldn't comment on these issues. Nintendo is no Sony or Xbox where a representative would be calling NL right now to get the record straight.
Secondly, we are talking about Nindies and Indies with highly regarded games, as Thomas put it. It is shameful the situation with Axion Verge as the game has been highly praised, and rightfully so, on many platforms including Nintendo's own.
Nintendo, at least put a Switch on every developer eager to work with you. Plain and simple. Is the game is not to standards, reject it and move on. Make clear rules that apply to everyone. Game developers are going to shun the Switch because of this.
@Billsama Yet another example of gaming journalism's lack of actual journalists.
Hopefully indie developers will still try to have their games on The Switch. I would like to see more gems similar to Shovel Knight, Retro City Rampage or Fast RMX.
I hope the eshop team can find a balance between ports and great indie games. Hopefully in the next few months players will be able to download a plethora of great indie games.
@ThomasBW84 I feel that yes, the anonymity was warranted (we are talking Nintendo here), so no need to apologize. The issue is there: high profile game developers shunt away from the Nintendo Switch. Maybe, some developers that now don't wanna anything to do with Nintendo can be quoted?
Nintendo needs to be selective. It's about reputation with its customers. They should have not let that Vroom in their library, and so must pursue that path.
Axiom Verge is a decent game. It isn't shovelware but it isn't that good too, it looks cheap, it would be misunderstood by 80% of the gaming population so it's not something to cry for.
It has not the appeal of a Wonderboy or a Snake Pass.
Nintendo must ensure to not release bad software like Vroom in the future, those people that will buy it will be picky customers later and it's not good advertising for the platform.
It's also understandable that Nintendo want to privilege new software and old 'cool' software like Shovel Knight (that got a new episode as a time exclusive, let's not forget about that!).
Proceed as planned Nintendo and don't let Vroom(s) slip anymore.
Good article Thomas, but next time try to be more coincise and clear. Format it better.
If you expect everyone that has a complaint to attach their name to it, then there will be no complaints and issues like this will never be known by the general public. No indie in their right mind would attach their name. What is to be gained? So Joe Public knows the true story? To dismiss the concerns presented in this article because no names were used is absurd.
@maceng Pretty assumptions... Let's see, kid. I read the article and you don't need to be a Nintendo employee to give them the benefit of a doubt. We don't know why Axiom Verge is having troubles to get in. We already have Shovel Knight, Isaac, GEM, Wonder Boy and plenty others coming up. So, it is not like Nintendo is blocking indies. A couple of salty devs opinions are not enough to make a case about this.
Everytime there's a curation system, people will get mad. But I prefer to have less but quality games than open the door and have all sort of crappy games on the platform, especially on launch window.
"we are talking about Nindies and Indies with highly regarded games"
Ok, but who? We know Atooi is working on Switch, Image & Forms, Nicalis, Yacht Club Games, Chuckle Fish, 13AM and many other.
Are we suppose to take opinions without a name, over all this others?
@Gold_Ranger That doesn't make any sense.
Even if you had bought the games retail, they would still be "locked" on your Wii U since you can't play them on your Switch anyway. So this has nothing to do with the eshop.
Also, not all consoles are always backwards compatible it's not even unnormal.
Also, how exactly did you geht burned? You can still play them on your Wii U.
That the Mario Kart content would have been a dlc in Wii U is not something we know, but only something you assume, but here again: Getting an enhanced version of a game on the new console for at least close to full price is, like it or not, normal in todays age and has nothing to do with the eshop either.
Your reasoning only makes partly sense if your Wii U got bricked and you couldn't transfer your purchases over to a new Wii U, although customer support should able to do that.
Here we go again Nintendolife.
Seriously I can't imagine what you think when you write this, am I a Nintendo fan, Is this my job, who am I writing it for, why do I write such things. I would be interested to know, as I find it difficult to see your direction. And using 'anonymous' quotes from people with money on their mind to add flame., tch. Is this like your relationship with EGX, do you anonymously flame them now that relationship has broken down. It hard to listen to commenters on here who seem to think they have a better business strategy than Nintendo and can identify their failings all the time, there's no need for you to join in.
This is a Nintendo fansite, sorry but expect better than this.
It sucks for developers to feel estranged, I'm sure its frustrating. And we, as gamers always think we know whats best (for some odd reason, everyone's a connoisseur apparently). Personally I'm very happy with what has come to the Switch eShop and with what's been confirmed. Some remakes or not, they're high quality games I'm very happy with as I had never played the originals. Even though we may not totally understand their decisions, I think Nintendo is on the right track. I don't need more shovelware.
All I get from this is that it's a dice roll whether you as an indie developer get any kind of response. For all the stories about how an indie talks up how easy it is to work with Nintendo and the hardware, it's good to finally see the other side. I've applied as a developer myself and I can tell you that I'm far from the only one antsy to get access to the thing already.
Independent game curation has been a problem ever since indie games first appeared on consoles and Steam, and nobody has solved it to this day. Every single proposal to date has either allowed all the shovelware or picked and chosen and inevitably hit false positives, or just doesn't attract the necessary star power to get the customer bases to rival the big ones facing this problem on the most public levels. I'm starting to wonder if there's any solution to it.
@dew12333 This is exactly my thoughts regarding this site lately. From the writers to the unbelievable amount of trolls and Nintendo haters on the comments I don't see how this can be considered a Nintendo fan site anymore.
Okay for one thing I do find it difficult to trust anonymous sources. Nindie 1 sounds more like a spurned lover. Also I saw a tweet from Dan Adelman in which he actually called Nintendo douches not exactly what I would call a professional statement. When a dev takes to Twitter to actually insult the company in question I think the problem is more with them not Nintendo.
Look back at Wii U it's hard to fault Nintendo after seeing some of the garbage that ended up on the eShop there. It's clear they don't want another Steam Greenlight like situation on their hands. Steam Greenlight was pretty much like Nintendo web framework it had a good intent behind it but it ended up backfiring sorta with all the RPG Maker trash and Unity asset flips. Now Steam Greenlight is being replaced with Steam Direct which now requires devs to pay a submission fee for each game that can vary. Now many devs aren't exactly happy with this change but it's understandable when you consider the garbage that went through greenlight.
Looking back at Switch pre launch it's easy to see why Nintendo would want to be selective about who got a development kit. With all the Switch leaks going around they probably didn't want to take any chances.
Axiom Verge was REJECTED? Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!?
@duducamargo Hmm I never noticed the updates, you're sort of right slightly. It's not fake. But its complicated. They WANT to do it and are voraciously intent on doing it. They wanted to do it as a launch title, including a retail kit with swag like Isaac got, and NoA is stonewalling them.
They may or may not be one of the "anonymous" complainers here, however their problem isn't normal, it's political. Their business manager is Dan Adelman. THE Dan Adelman that used to run the Nindies at NoA. The Dan Adelmen who quit in conditions that sound more like having been "strongly asked to quit". And therefore there is serious bad blood between him and NoA/Nindies program. And he's the guy representing Axiom. So I imagine they're giving the finger to Axiom to give the finger to Dan. Sad, political, but a unique case. Supposedly they're trying to go through NoE/NCL/NoAus or something to get publishing going bypassing the politics.
RCMADIAX must be seething right now.
Thank you for your reply.
What store can I go in to and get a new WiiU?
And for the other matter, at least if I had the physical copy, I could have brought the game to best buy or gamestop and trade it in and use that towards the new one.
I think this is serious concern that needs to be addressed, and sooner rather than later.
I can appreciate their curation, but you can't go demanding exclusive content and ignoring ports. Demand parity, no more, no less. And welcome any great game, be it old or new.
More hired help and a policy revision is order here...
@JHDK That is true. But it is also true that if you want to be honest and don't want to put yourself into purgatory, you might not want to attach your name to negative comments.
"I've had a long-standing relationship with Nintendo for many years. We've gone out eating and drinking multiple times"
I couldn't help but picture a life size Nintendo logo sitting at a bar when I first read that.
Being a Nintendo fan doesn't mean being totally blind to the company's failings. This feature has been in the works for weeks and was actually instigated after we'd had more than one complaint from indie developers. This is a matter that is worth investigating, and we've presented a balanced argument here - we're not just used the negative points, but included several positive perspectives from other indies. And Nintendo was offered the chance to respond (something other outlets wouldn't have given them) but they politely declined. Should we not run the piece because of that? Of course not.
If you want a Nintendo site which endlessly praises the company without taking the time to question when it's doing things wrong (or ask how it can do things better) then you can always visit Nintendo's official site.
I'm pleased to see that the vast majority of comments on this piece are in praise of it - I know that @ThomasBW84 spent a lot of time and effort putting this together and I'm really proud to have it on the site.
That you can't sell the games is an usual disadvantage of download games.
That you can't play games anymore if the console is dead and it is not available anymore is an usual problem with consoles, although mit always. (You could try to get it repaired by the support, that would not be cheap though)
If you simply meant that, than I am sorry, you are right.
Speculation here, but Nindie #1 sounds a lot like the VERY noticeably absent WayForward. I hope I'm wrong.
Quit with the demanding of exclusive content/timed exclusivity. That's only going to hurt you Nintendo. Microsoft tried that already, and it didn't work.
This, along with the very bare bones eShop, need sorted out ASAP.
@JaxonH The only thing I'm a bit concern is ports from old game. I think that it hurt the Wii U, having several ports of old games. But they were for the most part AAA titles. Still, this does not apply to indies: if you game sucks, it won't sell. Period.
@Damo Thanks for the insight. I knew taht Thomas wouldn't post something without having all parties involved or even asked to participate.
Those two really give Nintendo fan a bad name.
@NEStalgia I feel pretty confident that the dev of Axiom Verge is one of the folks listed here, if only because they've been making unhappy public statements for some time. But they also probably don't want Nintendo fanboys giving them grief or to lose sales.
I can't believe Nintendolife didn't report on the physical release of Axiom Verge yet, though. I doubt it's connected to this article's content, but it is a peculiar coincidence nonetheless.
@NEStalgia Considering Axiom Verge had no problem getting on to the Wii U eShop, I don't think it's because of any sort of "bad blood".
I'm willing to bet one of them is Jools Watsham. He loves a good moan.
Either way. I can't blame Nintendo. Perhaps they don't need to be so rigid, though. It's insane that games like Axiom Verge are shut out but Vroom in the Night Sky is allowed.
@Damo I think it's cool that you feel proud of having this on the site. After all, this is your site and you and the rest of the team decide the route you want to take with it. I feel this is a very painfully written article that It's definitely not balanced enough. I like Thomas articles the most, that's why I feel I have the right to say this is not one of the best.
There's always a thin line when you give your opinion on something. Specially when you say something positive about anything. There's always people that will think that you don't like criticism and you want to only hear about the good news. That's why I understand your comment about going to Nintendo official site (comment that I found disrespectful and plain stupid). I have nothing against criticism. But when criticism becomes the norm and people looks for negative opinions and give them more importance than they has, ignoring the rest of the picture, just to justify an article, then there's something wrong.
Being a fan is not a thing of black or white. You can detect when a criticism is justified and when is not. And being able to point out when it's not justified does not make you a blind fanboy.
If true, then WF appears to not be able to pitch (another) port of Shantae. (And WF has not done anything just for Nintendo for three years - but has done some things for other consoles or mobile exclusively. So that developer has moved away from Nintendo (only Nintendo) — which is transactional.
They printed their opinion I did the same, keep your bad mouthing and bad English to yourself.
An excellent article, very well done. I'm sure some NOA staff will be reading this with interest.
Jools has games coming — at least according to the graphic from this article. So he can't be too upset, even though he always seems to be.
As for Vroom — that was an NOJ decision (as has been noted here) and the issue has been with NOA. Plus, I will say the concept for Vroom sounds much better than it turned out to be (sounds a lot like Nights — just not done as well).
In these days when Twitter seems to turn everyone into a loose cannon, I really can't blame Nintendo for not revealing the nature of the Switch to every five-person indie dev that wants to make a game for them.
I wonder if this represents how Nintendo act currently towards the large 3rd party publishers and developers? Reading this article and the apparent arrogance of Nintendo made me think of Yamauchi.
I knew I would get comment suggesting that you cannot just report the good things and that I should visit the official site if I wanted that sort of thing. There are similar sarcastic comments to reply but I really don't feel like that and am disappointed that you do.
I have been visiting this website for a very long time and do not use any other game sites, I have never felt a need. But I have an opinion the same as others do, unfortunately on this one we are just don't think the same.
@dew12333 Likewise. Bum.
What site do I go to for some 3ds eshop reviews? I'd like to find out about the games these devs are making so I can decide if I want to play them. How they get to me through corporate channels doesnt interest me as much.
They're playing the long game... they can see the switch selling well and so want to space out the 3rd party software instead of opening the floodgates and drowning the eshop. This starvation is building anticipation for even the smaller games meaning these games are selling better. It actually makes good business sense.
They also said from very early on that they didnt just want to rely on ports but accept "new games" in equal measure to ports.
Yes, that may disgruntle developers queuing at the door to get their previously released products through and sour previous relations but from a consumers point of view I like seeing new and original content on my new and original console... so the ports can wait and be patient.
@Andyv01 Nope, the ports shouldn't wait. Then, they become irrelevant for the most cases. Nintendo must issue clear guidelines for making/porting games to the Switch. Plain and simple.
@ThomasBW84 very good read. Interesting topic and I realize you had to be careful about your sources.
To me, it feels like NOA had some people at the front trying hard to get "exclusive content" and prioritizing those communications, except for maybe something of the scale of Shovel Knight. NOA was trying to sell Spectre of Torment more so when you think about it.
I can get NOA wanting more than a ton of old ports, but it makes sense for someone established to get some existing games in the eshop just for the sake of having their foot in the door while they're working on something new. It drums up interest for future projects, too. Think of the extra revenue Shovel Knight must be giving Yacht Club right now. I still don't understand why certain games (Axiom Verge, etc.) can't get a quick green light, curated or not. It just helps bolster the eshop to have those quality games on the shelf.
Devkit issues are not a big surprise. At the end of the day, Nintendo is pretty conservative about just giving stuff. Capcom had to pay for it for crying out loud.
Hopefully E3 announcements will shed more light on what Nintendo is doing. To me, NOA needs to lighten up on curation or give the eshop team more resources. Like @SLIGEACH_EIRE basically said at the top, the results are not really reflecting the goals here.
@duducamargo Yeah, even just a point person who says "Hey, we've heard you!" would be nice. I mean, does Nintendo even HAVE a community manager of any kind? They really need someone closer to the ground to communicate with fans. Communication seems like one of Nintendo's biggest weaknesses, and I suspect the wild differences in experiences reported in this article by folks dealing with Nintendo seems to speak to whether you get the luck of the draw when it comes to who you call/email/get assigned to your studio. For some people it seems incredibly effortless, for others it's an exercise in frustration. They need to get as close to the "effortless" part of that equation as they can, especially for developers with a proven track record on Nintendo hardware.
I'm not gonna say who's lying and who isn't not being an industry insider but merely a gamer, but all I know is with Wii U we were starving for games! 3-4 month gaps of no new releases we dealt with! Nintendo of America once again seems to be the problem! They should be welcoming all kinds of quality games to Switch old or new, ports or fresh content, virtual console and etc! No one wants shovelware but shovelware exists on all platforms to an extent. Nintendo needs to get their act together, beef up their NOA eshop team and let the games flow!! We as gamers as always, will decide with our wallets!! They owe their fans this opportunity with the Switch!! Shouldn't be this complicated!! Thx
And I still say at $22 million a year Reggie should be fired. Guy is overpaid and a BS artist!! 😡
@IceClimbers Perhaps, perhaps not. Nintendo wasn't doing much in the way of curation for the WiiU, so there wasn't really a platform for shutting out developers (because their consultant/manager is your nemesis) as Switch does, plus, it's possible Adelman himself was the one that greenlit Axiom on WiiU, depending on when the game was approved, so it might have been already in the process queue by the time Adelman left. The game was started in 2010, was going to release in 2014 but was delayed, and Adelman left mid 2014.
That's the one conspiracy theory anyway. The other possibility is that it's a port of a WiiU game and that's the last thing they want to do. 50/50 on which. They definitely don't seem keen on re-releasing WiiU indie games unless it's a sequel. But the Adelman issue does kind of stick out, and considering his openly hostile attitude toward Nintendo it seems pretty clear that the relationship between them isn't particularly healthy.
@MarioPhD Very possible. It would be a shame if the real issue with Axiom was a problem with their intermediary. But it would also be a shame if they've been making such a ruckus and the real issue was a simple "We don't want to bring WiiU eShop content to Switch for a while" which would be a fair policy and not fair to complain so much about.
Though I was corrected above the physical release is not confirmed. They'll almost certainly do it but it's not all Nintendo approved yet, it seems.
@BionicDodo Thank you! I was reading it over thinking the exact same stuff but everyone was jumping on the "defend the indies pushing shovelware" bandwagon so wasn't sure if I misread it.
Most of this just comes off as sour grapes from people who thought that they were bigshots because Random Nintendo Employee #4,789 working as a developer liaison went out for drinks one time, and accepting the reality of a giant company not wanting to show their cards to anyone let alone some dime-a-dozen indie dev means that you're not actually a bigshot and is too hard, so instead they lash out at the giant corporation they thought they were besties with. It's kind of funny.
@joey302 lol wtf? I guarantee you Reggie is not getting $22-million a year. No one at Nintendo is, except for maybe some member/members of the Yamauchi family who still own stock in the company.
@BAN sorry ....he has a NET worth of $22 million. I'm sure his annual salary is in the multi-millions though.
@NEStalgia While it may not be 100% confirmed yet, NintendoLife has reported on less much faster, so I'm still quite shocked. I mean, they posted about "Switch Actress 'Karen' Embraces her Nintendo Meme" by referencing an Instagram post in less time than it's taken to even just report something relatively vague but hopeful like "Axiom Verge Developer Planning for Physical Release on Switch." A bit odd, to be sure.
But yeah, I can't say I blame them for asking people who released a Wii U eShop game less than a year ago to hold off, which I imagine is likely the case. Titles like Afterbirth Plus and Stardew Valley never came to the Wii U, so it's pretty dumb to complain about those specific examples as evidence for someone getting their port snubbed.
The Wiiware was a really decent start for Nintendo's own take on an online store, despite huge restrictions.
The Wii-U Eshop is just a dumpster that tries to collect games to satisfy the system
The Switch Eshop seems to be cherrypicking good games and not bad ones.
Upcoming Switch ports: Minecraft, Syberia 3, Steep, monopoly, pay day 2, Rayman legends, skyrim and Mario Kart 8 to name a few...makes no sense to me what NOA intentions are!
Sales matter and previous Nintendo platforms have failed to buoy digital sales. This is NOA's response and it appears to be working on some level. Good sales will encourage developers more than friendly emails or personal interactions.
I am concerned that your anonymous sources are a little too obvious to someone with a thorough knowledge of the digital content on Nintendo platforms. There are only a few possibilities of who some of these developers could be.
@MarioPhD Yeah, it's VERY possible it's simply a matter of no WiiU games. Maybe they shoudl be clarifying such policies if they have such policies and that would alleviate confusion here with some of these devs.
However, it's still difficult to read through these anonymous rants and take them or this article seriously, and to a degree it's insulting to readers. These people are going out of their way to intentionally go to a soapbox in the media, and basically put a bag over their head and voice modulator so they can talk behind the backs negatively about a business they still wish to do business with. How can one respect their arguments if they're willing to make them only from the shadows. If you are Way Forward, or Happ Games and you've had bad experiences publishing with Nintendo, and you come out publically and say "we like Nintendo and its fans and tried to work with them and they didn't treat us as valued partners, and refused to speak with us" that's one thing. If you're anonymously hiding in the shadows saying "Nintendo is awful, they do nothing right, they didn't recognize our greatness, but if I get a call from them tomorrow you BET I'll be nice to them and thank them for all their help!" That's not a professional criticism of flaws in the policy. That's complaining that you didn't win their lottery but hope to tomorrow.
The devs anonymously complaining here have not in the context of this article cited exactly WHAT they are complaining about. They complain they weren't in the first wave of indies. The ones that ARE in the first wave are not complaining. Did they expect EVERYONE to be a winner? Do they simply dislike that not everyone can publish everything and that someone was either chosen instead of them, or simply got there first? Do they feel that they're more important a studio than Nintendo has given them credit for based on past experience? Are these studios permanently banned from he eShop or did they just not get in RIGHT NOW (assuming they don't get permanently banned if Nintendo figures out who from their "maybe we'll do this one in June" list might be one of the complaints here?)
There's not a clear criticism of a systematic failure. It's just a bunch of complaints of wanting personal replies instead of form letters from a global company during a major product launch, wanting to be given early access when not everyone was getting early access.
So Nintendo isn't opening the flood gates "yet" as Ninty keeps saying. That implies these guys can spam their shovelware in the future, which I'm honestly not looking forward to. I rather like the eShop as a limited selection curated like a retail shop. I imagine Sumo, Frozenbyte, Yacht Club, Shin'en, DotEmu, IntiCreates and the like are really happy with the new system. Not everyone wins, but those that do win bigger. It's a DIFFERENT system. One that separates this platform from even the company's own prior platforms. When the winners are praising how great Nintendo is to work with, and the losers are anonymously complaining about how bad it is (but only anonymously so that if they're told tomorrow they're a winner they can jump on board and reap the rewards!) tells me the system is probably working quite well.
Maybe the ideal is for Nintendo to better communicate policy so those without a chance to be chosen aren't given false hopes to complain about, and tell them more clearly WHY they are not chosen. I am amused by the complaint that it's like the publisher model 10 years ago. Yes, yes it is. As a customer, that's bad, HOW exactly?
Also, you cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube.
I'm sure these developers deserve the best opportunity for success on the Switch; however, once the storefront is flooded there is no going back. Games too easily become lost and new releases get ignored in favor of whatever else is on sale. Maybe this curation strategy could work in favor of these anonymous developers (assuming their pride isn't too damaged) by creating a more favorable ecosystem upon release of their games.
Considering how Snipperclips, Snake Pass, FAST RMX, GEM, etc. have lit up the charts all over the world, there is evidence of progress compared to past Nintendo storefronts dominated by Nintendo games. Let's see what happens once there are far more Switch owners... How new releases do then will paint the picture.
Great article, thanks.
@joey302 So says the random site you found through google which cites no sources of any kind.
The idea that Nintendo of America are understaff for the eshop makes sense. The USA probably has more indie devs that anywhere else in the world but Nintendo probably staffed it the same as Europe will have no where the size of Indies. It also matches up with their we're not going to make a loss this generation. Here in the UK it was hell to get through to the Nintendo customer support for me because they were understaffed. They obiously hadn't spent any money on getting more staff to handle the launch of the switch. It's the, don't spend anything more than you have to. Sadly you get casualties with developers losing their trust inthe company. It also matches up with how their shipments of consoles are still not huge despite Mario Kart coming out soon and that being one of the three biggest franchies Nintendo has in the UK, one of it's weakest markets. But I live in hope.
Honestly, without knowing who these individuals are, it's hard to sort out the sour grapes from the rest. They obviously have been dropped because Nintendo didn't feel that their quality was in line with the level Nintendo is targeting for this platform. Could they have provided a more formal diplomatic response instead of ignoring some devs? Sure. But who is to say they didn't?
And as far as the comments and feelings that Nintendo previously helped indies to succeed or were felt to be partners, obviously that didn't work out. That is time, effort and money that a company of Nintendo's size and reach should not have to expend on it's licensees. They certainly didn't do that in the NES and SNES era. There is no reason to do it now. If you want to publish games on this platform, you have to have the chops. And if you have the chops, there's a good chance that we can expect a good game out of you... without the babysitting.
The other side of this is that Nintendo's AAA 3rd parties are happier because there are fewer small fish taking little nibbles at their potential software sales potential. One or two indies selling a handful of games isnt much competition for them. But an army of garage developers selling garbage for $1 to $4.99 will definitely add up to sales taken from the big guys.
This article to me seems like a lot of crying and whining to me. Welcome to big business folks. Not everyone gets to make a comfy living being creative.
@BAN that would be Celebritynetworth.com bro. Uh He did have a career before Nintendo btw- VH1, Pizza Hut, proctor & gamble. So what you think he's making 150k?? Cmon...he was a millionaire before Nintendo trust me
@AcesHigh The other complaint from two of the above was the demand for exclusive content and frustration at not being allowed to just do a port. I'm not seeing how a platform seeking unique content is a bad thing. From a consumer perspective it's a great thing. From an indie developer perspective, that's a cost, but Nintendos' also shining a much, much brighter marketing light on that content than the other stores that bury it in the mists. It's an opportunity cost, yes, but is it really a bad one? It depends on the game. It depends on the content and age of the game. But we don't know because they refuse to tell use who they even are.
I do love how the one was basically complaining that Nintendo chose them to be a 2nd party with a unique title, they declined, wanted to port an old game, Nintendo declined, but somehow this is Nintendo's failure. It's also humorous that they did this anonymously considering it probably took Nintendo all of 20 seconds to figure out who they offered those 2nd party gigs to. I'm sure it's a short list. Why be anonymous at all?
I'd only say that, the NES and SNES era aren't necessarily eras to emulate the policy of. Nintendo really DID act badly then. And it created a bad background that haunts them with big third parties to this day. Though I don't think that's what's happening here. Back then even the "winners" that got on the platform hated them
Yeah, I hear what you're saying about the NES and SNES era. But there were many other reasons that 3rd parties hated Nintendo. But it did bear quality. Their license pricing, exclusivity and requirement for all cartridge component manufacturing going through Nintendo was a big pill to swallow. The exclusivity already went bye bye at the start of the SNES era. Anyway, they arent necessarily doing that here. And these days everyone pays a piece for their titles to appear on an online store. I think Nintendo is just trying to get back to their "Seal of Quality" concept. Yes, they get a fee and its all commercial. But if it means not spending $$ on fledgling developers that history has shown do not turn a profit, as a shareholder and a consumer, I'm happy for that. Let them spend their money on projects that will bear fruit (as a shareholder) and protect me from crap (as a consumer).
@BionicDodo confirmed Nintendo employee.
If you ever wonder why Nintendo is in last place, these are very much part of the reasons.
@joey302 lols oh snap, celebritynetworth.com?? Well that changes everything! Not. I already knew that was the site you were getting that from because it's the first and only relevant result when you google Reggie's salary. That should tell you something. The fact that they don't reference a single source or even make an attempt to explain how they arrive at their estimates should also tell you something.
But you're right, Reggie has been a successful businessman for a long time. That should tell you something, too. Namely- your core argument that Reggie doesn't deserve to be paid an executive salary is undermined by your own admission that he's been valued extremely highly and paid an executive salary by multiple major companies over the course of his decades-long career even BEFORE Nintendo came along.
@AcesHigh Haha, yes. I've viewed it as a return to the "Seal of Quality" as well (even referenced it in an earlier post), and I've been thrilled at that concept. Especially after I've noted over the past decade and the rise of mobile and download shops the similarity to the Atari 2600 days that lead to the crash. The Seal has been desperately needed again.
Some folks seem to panic every time they say they're limiting content. I on the other hand panic when Damon says "we're not opening the floodgates yet ". I would rather they do not open them ever. The platform is better for it. Indies are real games to me right now. That has not been the case for the past 5 years. I imagine the indies thriving as commercial products right now prefer this as well.
Sadly, some otherwise good games might get cut out of the loop as a result. But some of these, including the ones complaining, I think aren't cut out, they're just being delayed for another window. Possibly it will benefit them most of all. Going up against Snake Pass might have been self defeating. It was beating digital content from much bigger studios.
@BAN he doesn't deserve whatever the hell hes getting paid yearly. I never said he was a dummy. He's an educated guy. He's just a moron with Nintendo and dodges all the hard questions thrown at him especially during the Wii U era. As far as the internet, no you can't always rely on the fact that you're getting the truth no matter where you look. And celebrity networth never breaks anyone's fortunes down and how they got there anyway. There basic articles with a bit of background. I'm sure explaining how Tom cruise got to $450 million would take a bit of time and space lol. I feel he sort of fell into the job at Nintendo and his successful background dictated his salary with Nintendo to an extent.
Ha!! And I too likened this indie experiment to the crash of '84 in earlier posts! Funny
As much as I think there is a crash coming because of the heap loads of crap out there, I dont think it will because 1. Video games are firmly ingrained in our culture now - on our TVs as well as phones, watches, social media. There's no turning back (though I don't think this is necessarily a good thing). This is definitely not how video games were viewed culturally in '84. Back then, a blip of bad games could easily turn consumers away and point them back to playing outside or listening to records! And 2. The investment required on the part of the consumer today is $0 to chump-change. Compared to a full priced pile of turd by Milton Bradly on your 2600.
I do wish that the market was ready and willing to have the capacity to say, "F-it! Im just going to go outside and play with friends or family. That is time better spent than playing these shallow free to play games". But our culture is one of quick fixes and then on to the next quick fix. Its good to see Nintendo taking responsibility of self governing!
I almost 100% positive that Nindy 1 is Jools from Atooi (formerly Renegade Kid).
Axiom Verge was a bit of a disappointment for me personally and wouldn't justify a second purchase, it's taken them an age to get it on vita, so perhaps not just a problem with Nintendo?
Looking forward to more of The Fall, enjoyed first episode a great deal.
A slow drip feed of content is going to harm the Switch's momentum, a steady flow of good, reasonably priced ports and Indies keeps me Switching on, otherwise I'm never going to try and find new games to buy and stick with Zelda and (hopefully) MK8.
Plus, announcing a free trial of their subscription ahead of its launch and then not offering content in the trial seems an odd choice. And just get Secret of Mana on the UK store this instant! Only game my sister holds bragging rights for completing whilst I chucked off at the end.
The saddest part of this article for me was seeing all of those Paper Mario images...RIP (Also, good read lol)
Quite funny seeing the excuses being put forward.
If they're concerned about good games missing out, just manage the presentation of the eshop better. Market the good ones. No need to try and stop bad games getting released especially when they've already failed.
Not wanting Wii U ports looks hugely hypocritical as they've led with their own ports.
Given the emphasis NCL put on personal relationships this sounds like NOA messing up. Nintendo aren't in a position to turn away support so let's hope they sort these problems.
@joey302 That's nice that you "feel like" you know those things to be the case, but you're literally just pulling it out of your butt and basing it on nothing more than your own personal feelings about decisions Nintendo makes and apparently Reggie's personality and his responses to interview questions. But none of that is actually relevant to what the guy does day in and day out, behind the scenes, or which decisions he's even allowed to make, none of which do you actually know.
Sorry, but armchair quarterbacking some private business exec's performance is just weird, and it's also pointless because the public is given only a very tiny fraction of a sliver of a view of a window into the real value of someone like Reggie to the company they work for, or into the scope of that person's job, so you simply don't know what you're talking about. The bulk of arguments like yours basically boil down to "Nintendo does things I don't like, and since Reggie is one of the most visible members of the executive team, I'm going to blame/lash out at him because it's easier to do that than it is to research the structure of Nintendo as a corporation and their operational directives that dictate how they make big decisions and why they make the ones that they do."
I hate these things about Nintendo. I don't need another parent telling me what to do. If I buy a crappy game it's on me. What the Switch needs is game selection. And certainly opinion based, but games like Axiom Verge are better than a lot of the crap that is out there now. Nintendo, your customers are not a bunch of 5 year olds that need to be led by the hand. Give them choices and let them make their own selections.
@BAN ok so not sure why you feel such a strong urge to defend him or NOA. He's incompetent and so is his team. I suppose you know then specifically what he does day in and day out? Then tell us? And besides I never said that anyway. I have no clue. All I'm saying here is that NOA as a whole reeks of incompetence for years now. And I'm rooting for them big time which is the funny part. I don't wanna see them fail. Not pulling anything out of my butt. All you have to do is read the threads above here. You don't have to be a genius to see it. Now that the Switch has had a nice start they wanna go in the other direction and be a bunch of a-holes. Well fine they will just put their games on PS4 and Xbox and then 3 years from now they'll sit at a board meeting like they did when Wii U wasn't catching and ask each other what's going wrong! The answer is games!! Games and more games!! And I'm sure Reggie has more latitude then you know. That's why they put him there. Why isn't VC Sevice ready? Why are they denying a port like Axiom Verge when other ports have already arrived and more coming. No one including you can make sense of this. But like the author of this article said they need to beef up their eshop staff so they're not overwhelmed and get their asses moving. Simple. No I don't like what NOA is, has and been doing. Guess what? So do many others. No armchair quarterbacking here. Just seeing what I see....incompetence all the way!
From this, I take 2 things:
1.Nintendo Europe don't suck as much as Nintendo America.
2. Nintendo's developer support is just as bad as their customer support.
@cleveland124 cleveland124 thank you!! Thank you very much! Well said!! Let the games through stop messing around and pissing devs off! We will vote with our wallets like we always have going all the way back to the 2600!! As adult gamers we should be able to sift through the shovelware! We've done it on virtually every home console and the Switch should be no different. Stop blocking the games and let us decide! Amen! I'm with you bro!
I like how Nintendo hates everyone and everything. It's funny.
There is a big problem in that it seems NoA and NoE policy's regarding the Indies are too much different, and that hurts relationships here. NoA's team, it seems, needs to get a multidisciplinary team for the curation process.
The marketing guys can focus on finished games and pitchs, but the in progress ideas need to be evaluated by a team, not just by a single guy.
While I do agree it's nice the Switch eShop doesn't have the shovelware so prominent on the Wii U eShop, they need to reach a balance and not piss off good indies. Although this article now shows why Shovel Knight is a timed exclusive in Switch.
Anyway, brilliant read, @ThomasBW84! The article is fantastic, and a fascinating read. I know these articles must take a lot of time, but it would be great if you could follow up in the future to see how the Indie situation continues with the eShop.
Excellent article, probably one of NL's all time best.
@BionicDodo These people would lose business deals or be fired if they weren't anonymous. It's unfortunate, but the right to confidentiality when making criticisms has become a necessity of reasonable discourse.
Besides the virtual console listing and some (very little) good E-Shop games on the Wii U, there was plenty of shovel ware of weird titles that you could play for a few minutes, then forget about. This was one thing on Wii U that disappointed me to not caring about getting rid of the system. This is also something that seems to be happening on the PS4 store too, so I still see it happening on Switch too, and the good games that are fun and enjoyable will be lost. The Wii's store was pretty decent, but the shovel ware all came onto the retail scene for it, and there were some good titles that were lost due to this (I have to say that the MUNCHABLES game was a really fun little platformer game). Hopefully, it doesn't happen too much on the Switch, and I really hope the games look decent on it...especially since I'm still not fully sold on the console yet.
All I'm hearing from these indies' complaints is a lot of whining. I will agree that Nintendo is not perfect and being hypocritical with their "no ports" policy, but being refused for any reason is just business as usual. And as people here already pointed out, I'd much rather quality indie games be released in a gradual rate as opposed to a slew of shovelware games.
Although in the end, that probably doesn't matter so much to me. I do not look through the eShop for any games that might interest me. Everything I hear about is over the internet, and once I've made my decision, I will specifically search for it.
I'd rather a few allegedly high quality developers have to wait a bit, than have the eShop flooded with junk.
This is silly...loads of people like to moan about shovelware, but I doubt any of those people have ever purchased any...
There will always be crap games just like there will always be crap films and music.
Doing things like shutting down greenlight on steam and strictly curating the eshop does not solve the issue, it only hurts indie devs.
Bit hard for NoA to address specifics when they don't know who is griping. Nintendo doesn't want a heap of ports of older games (outside a few popular heavy hitters) in the first six months, so what? I'd rather have new games than old ones that I can access on other systems. Get working on it.
I rarely buy indie games anyway now. I got burned by a few. I wait for the review. I don't think Blastermaster, Shantea, Shovel Knight are really indies anyway. I never touch the indie RPGs either. I'm alright with not having many, but I still think th y have there place on the console.
@Tingle_The_Great Maybe, but there's a reason you can search for a game or at least apply filters to have less results to check. Also, what defines a game as shovelware and who will decide which games qualify as that? I've seen people consider low budget games and even Gunman Clive shovelware, and considering that everyone has different standards and that many raise it to ridiculous proportions it won't be long before we see absurd petitions to consider decent games as shovelware just because they are indies.
Other than taking time to find nice games if you didn't take your time to inform yourself about them from the other many sources of the internet, there isn't any problem with that and personally I don't think the problem is big enough for the need of a "solution" that could end up being counterproductive.
I do think you can limit the eshop to games that at least work properly and adding rules like not being able to produce games with a ridiculous short length and ask more than 5 bucks for them, but other than basic filters and rules (that personally I think that would help avoid many bad games if used properly) I don't think there's much to do about.
Maybe they could also apply a lifespan to games that sell terribly bad, but then again, many great games are ignored and aren't successful.
@dew12333 There are many people on this site who share your views. They see Nintendo as something sacred and don't want to hear a bad word about them.
Well, if you want to stick your head in the sand and only look at the good, then great. As you said, you are entitled to your opinion. If you don't mind me sharing with you though, just because someone criticises something about Nintendo doesn't mean they are not a fan or that they don't care. It is also not wrong if there is an issue to raise it and talk about it.
The reality is that many of us fans care passionately about Nintendo. And so when they make mistakes, or in the case above, some people (quite important Nindies) have an issue, we should look at the arguments and rationally discuss them.
The most successful companies listen to their fans, not just the ones who sing their praises, but the ones who complain. Because they understand that those who praise and those who complain do so because they all care.
Unfortunately, Nintendo has made some bad corporate decisions over the years. But because Nintendo fans are willing to put up with their mistakes the company has been VERY slow in learning or changing its ways.
Now I love Nintendo. I check this website daily and I exclusively use Nintendo consoles. But in the long run Nintendo's decisions have damaged both mine and your experience of Nintendo products. This includes a lack of games because of their treatment of third parties in previous generations and, possibly, with indies in this generation.
This has happened whether you want to acknowledge it or not.
@KIRO A little too much hearsay in the article for me. More investigation would have helped. I wish stuff like this was translated into Japanese so it would be more likely to make it to Kyoto
Hi, Thank you for taking your time to message and I really do agree with you. But I do not bury my head, but don't deny that I am more understanding of the 'issues' of being someone who only owns Nintendo products and can see the things that Nintendo do that wouldn't favour all it's fans. It's a personal difference in how much you like or dislike the different things.
But you sound like someone who has been around long enough to know that Nintendo has never really listened to it's fans, made good relationships with 3rd parties, and several other niggly things. And none of their corporate worded marketing stuff will ever gleen over the fact they have 'always' done those things badly. Someone quoted yesterday about going back to Yamauchi days, well sorry but they have never really changed, like any big business it's about the money. This is where I felt issue with the article as I felt it wasn't necessarily fair and a bit overly sensationalised. My reasoning for that is that just after the direct I felt that in most part there was a good reflection for what was coming from the indie developers, maybe Thomas didn't thing that, and everything was fine, but only a week later we have this feature claiming the whole things broken. Also no reply from Nintendo and I really did you expect them to, what was they to say 'our strategy has changed and we want to make this stuff ourselves'. there not going to say that. Maybe they should have anonymously said there piece like the hard done by nindie that commented in the article.
And this is the point where we do disagree as I do not see that Nintendo have damaged my experience of them. Back in my youth when I had much more gaming time I actually owned a PS2, it's the only non Nintendo console, ever, and I only owned 4 games for that. So I see that if they do not meet your needs then buy another console or don't buy Nintendo, simple.
Thanks again for your message, I really think your message is dead right. I don't think I don't see these things I just don't see moaning about it as the best way to deal with it.
Thanks for the update.
@joey302 BAN actually makes a good point. It's very easy to simply trash Reggie or any other big exec at Nintendo when they do something we perceive as dumb or wrong even though we really have very little understanding of what goes on behind the scenes
@Wolfgabe I understand his point. But he was coming off like he was privy to Reggie's daily duties and I never said I was. All I know is NOA, led by him to an extent, is very incompetent and this is why they still have issues despite the Switch getting off to a nice start. Like the author of this article stated at the end, they need to get organized, beef up the eshop team so as to not be overwhelmed by the fact that a lot of devs are happily interested in putting their content on Switch. After Wii U, really, Nintendo shouldn't be rejecting any quality games for Switch ports or not. Ban feels the need to defend Nintendo and that's fine. I mentioned I'm rooting for them hard!! It broke my heart when Sega became a 3rd party publisher!! And don't say it can't happen with Nintendo cause they have billions in cash. Much bigger companies then Nintendo have gone under. Bottom line is Switch needs games and plenty of them regardless of origin. Thx
Reflecting on Nintendo's past statements and overall philosophy I do not believe this behavior is regressive. They are considering quality over quantity as well as a steady release of unique and genuine gaming experiences. Nintendo has built up considerable goodwill and this new approach will allow them to be seen as a quality option when compared to Microsoft and Sony. When a product seems exclusive and elite it is more desirable. Overall, as a consumer with limited disposable income and finite free time, this is a winning scenario. I only want to play the best of the best. Furthermore, it goes without saying that striking a balance between openness and exclusivity is key.
@PlywoodStick They're going to lose the business deals now anyway. They were not "anonymous" to the very organization they were trying to remain anonymous to. They're anonymous to the masses reading so we can't weigh in on their claims but the brass at Nintendo they're hiding from were provided sufficient detail in isolating who these people are that are talking about them. Their games just got circular filed.
Worse they made fairly generic criticisms not pointed at PARTICULAR policies they believe is harming relationships but came across as generically complaining about not being treated the way they want to be treated, to the general public, through shadowy expose interviews with a media outlet, while TRYING (badly) to hide who they were so as not to actually interfere with Nintendo making them one of the big winners so they could pretend they were NOT publicly criticizing Nintendo. This is wrong on so many levels and the way they went about it is wrong.
If I were a Nindie account manager at Nintendo, my priority through the end of the week would be quickly and quietly identifying which of my clients these were (not difficult to do) and making sure to mark their applications for either dismissal or indeterminate delay. The "form letters" these guys get are going to be coming for years, and gamers are not going to see their games any time soon.
This would have ended a lot better for EVERYONE if these guys had SPECIFIC criticisms they believe with specific policy implementation that they believe are keeping Nintendo gamers from playing their games, and stated so officially as a company. Not individuals in stealth interviews, talking about generic concepts of not being let in the gate yet, but still hoping they will. If these guys came to NL with these comments and approved them for publishing, the onus is not on NL, it's on themselves.
@Yorumi They aren't being consistent about ports among indies either (Stardew, Neo Geo) but AFAIK the no ports policy is specific to the eShop, and possibly specific to the NoA eShop, not retail games. Thus Setsuna, Disgaea 5, Skyrim aren't subject to the port policy as full retail games (well Setsuna is retail in Japan and is considered an eShop Retail download. Isaac is also retail.) And Shovel Knight has Amiibo support and a timed exclusive on Spectre, so it has Switch unique/exclusive content they're talking about.
The two you mentioned don't really apply though. BotW is, at best, a Swtich game that also released on the old console (I know its history, technically is a port, and technically the Last Guardian is a port from a PS3 launch game....but it's really a PS4 game, and BotW is really a Switch game), but at worst it's a simultaneous multiplat, like Snake Pass, Lego City, Puyo, etc. Doesn't fit the ports category at all. And MK8D includes all DLC and an all new battle mode unique to Switch, so it meets the criteria for "exclusive features and modes" the indies are talking about, even if it weren't a retail game that isn't subject to that.
I agree with your comment on inconsistency, but the examples are themselves inconsistent
They SHOULD be clearer on policy. From what I extrapolate the policy is "no straight ports, particularly LATE ports, and especially no ports from the WiiU, simultaneous multiplat is fine. Exceptions are made if there is new content/features in the port, or exclusivity of features or content for the Switch. This policy does not apply to retail titles." That policy makes sense were they to clearly state it. It seems they also have limits/quotas like the NES days for how much is released at a time, which is the source of some of the problem because they're not communicating the limits clearly. But the actual consistency of the policy is MOSTLY well adhered to. Neo Geo, Stardew, and maybe one or two other things are the exceptions there.
@Lambchops007 Well said. Overall one of the keys here seems to be an imposition of viewpoint between the organizations. These devs seem to believe Nintendo is "just another market in which to sell there wares." and should thus behave as all the other markets do for them. Nintendo believes their platform is kind of a boutique for them to highlight items they believe fit their store and their customers interests.
Their focus on ports says they're not really a good fit for the type of platform Nintendo is trying to build. They seem to be approaching with the "every platform is the same so I just want to put my product on every platform as long as it can be sold", general software for general purpose computing devices, basically. I see Nintendo temporarily borrowing the NES philosophy of a closed system with vetted products. And those two philosophies are going to clash. Just as they did in the 80's. Only worse now because there's even more devs that are even smaller and are used to PC like environments of "anything goes."
Nintendo said in one of their directs that they are holding off from giving anyone/developer a Switch dev kit. The Switch needs to look its best for at least the next two years with top quality games, to the smaller developers be patient you will get your chance in due time.
Nintendo never invest unless they have what they deem to be enough profit to justify such extravagances. They are tight as a nun's..
Like most rich people.
@NEStalgia Setsuna is eshop-only (and PSN-only). It was not a retail release on any platform.
Buy yeah, Nintendo's policies are not coherently applied consistently
@Mando44646 Only in the West. Setsuna is physical retail for Switch, PS4, and PS Vita in Japan. (And the Switch version has the English translation on it...took a darned month for my physical copy to arrive!)
@NEStalgia Thats true, but we're talking about NoA's policies here in this article. And Setsuna was a digital-only eshop release in NA, which should meet NoA's asinine rules here. Unless they hold large publishers to a different set of standards and rules than they do Indie publishers
Of course they hold large publishers to different standards than indie publishers, and have different contractual obligations worked out with them, just like Sony, Microsoft, and Valve do.
However in this case that doesn't matter. Nintendo separates "eShop title", even their own first party ones like Pushmo, from digital retail downloads like MK8D. Setsuna, like Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies and Zero/Fatal Frame: Maiden of Blackwater that is a retail game in one region but digital-only distribution in another is still treated through the internal on-boarding channels as a retail title.
I'm guessing that's how Isaac got through eShop channels by going through the full published retail route, and how Axiom is aiming to do so as well. Retail is a whole different channel at Nintendo with a whole different staff and a whole different (stricter and more comprehensive) set of policies etc. (Same for Sony and Microsoft, of course, too.)
@NEStalgia Excellent points. However... How many people in the public would understand all of those details? In depth investigative reports does not grip eyes and mouths (or hands, as the case may be) like an outcry of malaise mayonnaise.
Case in point, I've been away from the internet for the past few days due to my father's dog succumbing to a cancerous tumor, and you had the situation figured out on your own. That's the type of followup that would warrant a... followup article, but already attention spans have moved on to other things. Never underestimate the goldfish generation's proclivity towards ADD.
@Yorumi In fairness to NoA, NoA's problem might be less suckage of talent and more a lack of budget from NCL. NoA has often sucked since after the Arakawa days, but they've been getting some things right. It was NoA that went proactive in approaching Zenimax/Bethesda for Skyrim, and it was NoA championing separately sold docks etc. They're taking a lot of initiative these days. Some of the complaints here seem like efficiency oriented measures for too few people working on too many things. Even Damon Baker mentioned in the Nindies showcase (or the interview the day after) that they wish they had a team of account managers for indies [translation: Like Sony/MS does] but basically they're a small staff and do what they can. If NoA doesn't have a budget for enough Nindies support it's because NCL isn't offering it. And in Japan I'm guessing Indies is not seen as favorably as they're started to become here. But some of it is just their priorities at NoA. They got that whole weird politically correct fancy HQ building with the "living roof" and all that. Spared no expense. They seem to have weird prioritization of resources. OTOH NoA handles a boatload of Nintendo's localization and that likely drains resources into actual development that's earmarked for other uses.
It's hard to get a handle on exactly how they're prioritizing Nindies. If I were to guess the imperatives are "shut down the shovelware that buried the Wii and WiiU" "Present something DIFFERENT than the "app store" environment with a flood of stuff, make digital more like retail", and "dont' spend too much time or money on indies so it doesn't become 'a console for indies', the priority has to be retail titles." More pointedly I think they're not really trying to keep doing indies as "indies" like they are in the general market but rebuild some middle-tier studios that have close ties to Nintendo, like Image & Form, Choice, etc. The "new" Nindies program seems like more or less a vetting program for that. The one in the interview that got the 2nd party offer was one of the big-big-big winners of that program....and walked away....and then complained about it.
@PlywoodStick Very sad, and very true. I do often underestimate that, sadly. Critical thinking doesn't seem to be an internet strong point. Overthinking, yes. Critical thinking, no
And sorry about your father's dog!
@NEStalgia At least she's not in pain anymore...
And, uh... I'm just curious... You know a lot... Maybe too much...
You wouldn't happen to... work with Nintendo in some capacity, would you?
@Yorumi I think a lot of it is the Kyoto culture. I've heard it described that Kyoto businesses are to Japanese business as Japanese business is to Western business.
It's almost an extension of the shogunate, slightly modernized. They no longer kill you for dissent, or looking at them questioningly, but they do still expect you to do it yourself It's very hierarchical. The order comes from on high based on the viewpoint from on high, and the servants carry out those orders. They are NOT questioned. It's not really Nintendo's fault specifically it's the regional normal. But sometimes it works out well. That insularity ensures Nintendo remains DIFFERENT in a market that often is about "follow the leader until you fall off a cliff". So it makes their decisions seem nonsensical, because it makes sense to them, and often they accidentally Magoo past the industry fowl-ups.
Their ignoring of the West is striking though. Yamauchi did not make that error. However, if Arakawa were not the one running NoA, and if Arakawa were not his own Son in Law, would he have? Arakawa was not one to hold his tongue in making demands, and due to the familial relation Yamauchi LISTENED to those demands and often acted on them. But otherwise the culture especially in Kyoto is that Japan is the world. It can be very frustrating from our perspective. And love or hate Reggie, even if he wasn't a featherweight pushover, I doubt anyone in that office that is not of influential standing in Japan will have much say or input in their executive decision making. Culture versus business. A hard act to balance. If they can replace Reggie with one of Kimishima's relatives we'll be in good shape
@PlywoodStick My friends uncle used to work at Nintendo, so I know things Haha, no, much as I could dream (or not, given their rigid culture), I've never worked at or with Nintendo
I work in real estate, with multimillion dollar transactions, and its the same thing in my industry. Some people respond back immediately, some don't, and you are left waiting, scratching your head and wondering why. The worst is working with the government...HUD to be exact. You can be waiting months before you hear back anything. But even big corporations, both public and private, can treat you like an afterthought as well.
This is just part and parcel of any business, no matter how unfortunate it is.
Reading this fascinating article reminded me of a similar Digital Foundary one from 2014 about a frustrated developer trying to get a game out on Wii U. Worth a read if you have the time; it turned out to be quite prescient. Let's hope the Switch isn't a case of corporate history repeating.
Super interesting read. Definitely opens up the eyes to how important B2B relationships are.
However, I had to read the more critical comments with a grain of salt. Of course Nintendo is going to be hush-hush about their brand new console and limit exposure! I think every company wants to control their marketing efforts and protect their products. In a perfect world, people would actually take the embargo or classified information seriously and not leak it, but this world is far from perfect and someone always burns that trust.
Give the Switch a few more months of continued success and solid releases and I imagine NOA will loosen up. Hell, half of these issues are potentially still present because they're waiting to figure out how the online infrastructure will work. Once that messaging is clear and they have a distinction between the eShop and Virtual Console, I think communication will be much improved between Nindies and NOA.
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