NoFriendo for Nintendo


Nintendo, as we all know, has been having some ups and downs lately (possibly more downs than ups). The 3DS is doing majestically well as Nintendo announces that Pokémon X/Y pre-orders have passed 260,000 in Japan alone!  That’s great news! But then you look at the Wii U and there just isn’t the same amount of love as far as sales and developers go.

It seems as though every month another developer is announcing that the Wii U is “not a priority” for the company. Nintendo has been put on the back-burner by a lot of major game developers. As the large predators leave, what they believe to be a finished gazelle, smaller creatures see a buffet (Bad analogy, but keep up). As Ubisoft, EA, Bethesda and the likes work on games for Xbox One and PS4, we are seeing a lot of indie developers beginning to flock to the Wii U, and Nintendo is encouraging the newcomers (except for Japan – we’ll get to that).

Nintendo of America recently announced that somewhere around 20 to 30 Indie games will be coming to the Wii U by the end of 2013. One of those games is So Hungry, created by Byron Atkinson-Jones, who shared his experiences of developing for Nintendo:

“They [Nintendo] have benefited me in every way possible. It’s been incredible. The whole process of becoming a registered developer is incredibly smooth. You fill in an online form, answer a couple of emails and that’s it…This is a golden age for Indie developers, it’s never been easier for us to get on to consoles like Wii U and Nintendo are being incredibly supportive on the marketing side too.”

And It’s true, too! If you have a Wii U, you can go straight to eShop and see a thumbnailed section titled “Indie Games.”

However, not all are too happy. While Nintendo does help promote their Indie developers’ games, they do so after their own. The large thumbnail spaces are reserved for big titles like Pikmin 3 and Wonderful 101, while the Indie game section is scrolled away and is only a fourth of the size of the big name games. However, Nintendo is a business and advertising and marketing is something they’re working on. The big thing to take away is that Atkinson-Jones feels that this is a “golden age for Indie developers” and, to be honest, it sounds like it. Nintendo is handing out dev kits to practically anyone and everyone who wants to make a game.

As some of you may or may not have noticed, Nintendo has been shooting down every single application for a dev kit from Japanese developers. So why isn’t Japan getting any of the love mentioned above?  Well, Nintendo released this statement to clarify.

“The policy in question is the decision of Nintendo’s department responsible for licensing activities in each region, and the licensing department of Nintendo is currently not accepting subject applications from individuals in Japan.”

Take that as you will, because that didn’t clarify much for me. Sounds like “The reason we are not accepting applications from Japanese developers is because.”

Nonetheless, Nintendo must be smiling happily as Frozenbyte Marketing Manager, Mikael Haveri, stated that Nintendo is more Indie friendly than the Xbox and PS3 are at the moment, in the flexibility that Nintendo offers for developers to set their prices and update their games.

“We have the power to price our products as we please, with just some basic guidelines from the big guys…We can set our own pricing and actually continuing on that by setting our own sales whenever we want. It is very close to what Apple and Steam are doing at the moment, and very Indie friendly.”

He even went on to add that the Wii U eShop “is definitely going in the right direction as far as small developers are concerned.”

So while the big developers don’t believe the Wii U provides enough water to quench their thirst, we’ll be seeing many Indie developers take smaller sips, bringing life to the Wii U.