In an interview with Dan Adelman – or, Nintendo’s official ‘indie guy’ – Adelman tells Gamasutra that Nintendo is attempting to update its image by placing a face on the company, and with that change comes their attempt to attract indie developers to their e-Shop. What’s more? Nintendo is trying to differentiate itself from competition such as Steam, XBLA, PSN, by making it easy as possible for indie developers to publish their game onto Nintendo’s eShop:
“We’ve always maintained the position that we don’t want to have any kind of concept approval or greenlight process where people have to spend their time and energy on pitching us on a game,” says Adelman, “We don’t want to be the arbiters of what we think is the best games and we’re only going to show that. Developers can set their own price point, they can change their price whenever they want. So if the developer is putting their game on sale, we want to make sure that’s visible to consumers. We do have a good solid volume of content, but it’s not overwhelmingly so.”
Adelman also states in an interview with Polygon that the policies they had during the launch of WiiWare that made it difficult for game developers to release their games on a Nintendo system are coming to an end:
“Not a day goes by when I’m talking to a developer who might say, ‘Yeah, I’d love to release a game on a Nintendo system, but I work from home and I know you guys have this requirement to work out of an office.’ I’ll say, ‘Actually, we got rid of that.’ And that will be a big surprise,” says Adelman, “Or they’re working on a game in Unity, and say ‘I hear on consoles to release a Unity game … costs tens of thousands of dollars.’ Actually, we have a deal with Unity so we’ve covered the licensing fees for the entire platform. So it’s free for you to release on our system.”
“The Nintendo eShop is always a work in progress. We’re going to have off-device availability [through the web, phone and smart devices] for eShop sales at some point. All of us feel that discoverability is going to be increasingly more important. We’ve got a nice flow of content, but as we grow the amount of content, it’s going to be important that we find that holy grail solution of how we make discoverability a priority…”
Make no mistake: Nintendo has been out in full force this month spreading their love for indie games and the developers that create them, and they want your indie game to be released onto the eShop. The quotes above cement this, and I know I speak for everyone when I say, “it’s about damn time Nintendo shows a little more indie love.” But how exactly can indie developers release their game onto Nintendo’s eShop? Moreover, how easy is it to manage your games once you become approved?
Become a Licensed Nintendo Developer
There are a few requirements for becoming a licensed Nintendo developer, but none of them are unreasonable. The biggest requirement is you have to have at least some experience developing games, so if you are working on your first game and want to become a Nintendo developer right away, you may want to release your game on a different platform first, then register to become a Nintendo developer later.
You also have to be able to keep any confidential materials such as dev kits and the like secure, and you have to form a company. Securing dev kits is as simple as placing them in a locked zip file and storing them away on an external drive, which only takes a few moments. As for forming a company, you may already have one, but if you do not, a call to the IRS to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is the first step to forming a small company. Forming a company is fairly painless, so you should be able to complete these steps in one afternoon.
It is also worth mentioning that Nintendo’s requirement for developers to have an office is no longer a requirement. In the past, a physical office location was a requirement due to the need of confidential materials needing to be secured. For whatever reason, Nintendo felt as if keeping an office and the home separate would keep their dev kits and the like more secured than if the developer worked from home. Yet, a substantial amount of indie developers now have a home office, and because Nintendo realizes this, they dropped the ‘must have an office away from home’ requirement.
Pricing, Updates, and Promoting
Independent developers completely control the price of their game; in fact, the price of your game can be set per region and even per country, and developers can even provide free-to-play models if they desire. You can set your own initial price and can even choose when you want your game to go on sale. If you want to permanently discount your game, you can do so.
Also, updating your game is absolutely free (which is how it should be).
Developer will also be able to decide on the release date of the game and even sale promotions. Nintendo offers free promotional download codes as well as 3DS QR codes so you can distribute these through the media or via contests. And if you do not have any contacts to send the codes to? Apparently, Nintendo will distribute the codes for you. What this entails is unknown, but it sounds interesting nonetheless.
While Nintendo doesn’t provide any details regarding the price of dev kits, they have stated that developer kits are about the same price as a high-end PC, so take that as you will. However, Nintendo is iterating that it is providing free Unity tools to developers and access to the Nintendo Web Framework. Nintendo Web Framework is something independent devs need to keep an eye on too, as rumor has it there may be conversion software in the works that will allow indie devs to port their games from mobile devices to the eShop almost instantaneously. How fluid this ambitious software may be remains to be seen, but it’s certainly interesting.
Equal Treatment Among Other Games
This is a big perk: Each game will be spotlighted among other retail releases. This means there are absolutely no paid featured slots in the eShop, as each game is treated as an important release. This always annoyed me about how Microsoft handled indie games on Xbox 360: the more well-known indie games were spotlighted, while everyone else was nowhere to be seen. Apparently, this is not going to happen on the eShop, which is great news for everyone.
It’s worth noting that a concept does not need to be approved before it goes live on the eShop. Thus, your side-scrolling beat ‘em up about ninja polar bears infiltrating Santa’s underground lair doesn’t need to be approved by Nintendo in any way, so feel free to publish it!
The price of your game can be set per region and even per country, and developers can even provide free-to-play models if they desire.
Exclusivity and Feedback
Do you want to publish your game on the eShop first but on mobile devices later down the line? If so, Nintendo will allow you to do this. Games do not have to remain exclusive to the eShop, and there is no incentive to keep it exclusive.
Finally, indie developers can get verified Miis to interact with their game’s community in the Miiverse via the Wii U, the web browser, and in the near future the 3DS and smartphone apps. Direct feedback from players all over the world will come your way, allowing independent developers to quickly find out what needs to be fixed within the game.
What do you think? Does the eShop seem like a more viable option, or are you still not convinced? Sound off in the comments below!